CULTURE

Miley Cyrus Is Not a Queer Icon: Do Better

"I always thought I had to be gay, because I thought all guys were evil, but it's not true."

For those still celebrating Miley Cyrus as a queer icon, may we invite you to take a moment to reconsider.

Yes, she came out as pansexual and genderfluid in 2015, soon proving herself to be an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community by founding Happy Hippie foundation for homeless queer youth. Then, after ending her marriage to Liam Hemsworth, Cyrus briefly dated reality TV star Kaitlynn Carter before moving on to Cody Simpson, with whom she did an Instagram live on Sunday. Here's where things got...dicey, to say the least.

In the midst of the livestream, Cyrus stated, "There are good men out there, guys, don't give up. You don't have to be gay, there are good people with dicks out there, you've just got to find them," She said, while Simpson laughed. "You've got to find a dick that's not a dick, you know? I always thought I had to be gay, because I thought all guys were evil, but it's not true. There are good people out there that just happen to have dicks. I've only ever met one, and he's on this live."


Miley Cyrus: "You Don't Have To Be Gay"! | Perez Hilton www.youtube.com


Oof. Miley, honey, it's 2019! Twitter, of course, immediately popped the f*ck off.

Soon, Cyrus wielded a powerful, often misused celebrity weapon: the notes app apology.

So. There's a lot of toxicity to unpack here. Let's start with the easy part: Cyrus' implication that the only good man she has ever met is Cody Simpson. *Cue her father, brothers, and Liam Hemsworth giving the camera a long, Jim Halpert-esque look.* Misandry aside, Cyrus implied that 1.) Being queer is a choice. 2.) Dating men is always preferable to dating women, even if you're queer. 3.) Cyrus herself chose to date women because of a distrust for men, not necessarily an attraction to women. None of these things were addressed in her apology; in fact, she didn't even bother to claim that she misspoke or that it was meant as a joke. All she really did was re-enforce that men are sh*tty.

To be clear, for anyone still living in 1950, being queer is not a choice, dating within the LGBTQ+ community is not an exciting and temporary foray into counter-culture on your way to a heterosexual relationship, dating men as a bisexual/pansexual woman is not somehow inherently preferable to dating women, and you don't get to call yourself queer just because you find men annoying sometimes. Being queer is defined by being attracted to genders other than the opposite gender to your own, and again, it is NEVER a choice. Just a little bit louder for those of you in the back: BEING QUEER IS NEVER A CHOICE.

If you still aren't sure, here's some science for you: A 2019 study by Andrea Ganna, lead author and European Molecular Biology Laboratory group leader at the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Finland, said that while her study did not find a "gay gene," it revealed "there are a number of genetic variations that can influence sexual behavior." Essentially, the research reinforces that queerness is simply "a natural part of our diversity as a species." That means that women being attracted to women is not simply a matter of thinking "all guys were evil" and so resorting to women—it's a matter of bonafide, biological sexual attraction.

Please do better, Miley.

Music Features

On This Day: Shakira Liberated Everyone's “She Wolf”

"I was in the studio in a bad mood that day, then I got inspired and went to a corner and I wrote the lyrics and the melody in 10 minutes. The image of the she wolf just came to my head, and when I least expected it I was howling and panting," Shakira said.

By Fabio Alexx

11 years ago, on July 10th, 2009, Colombian singer Shakira released the first single off her third studio album.

"She Wolf" is a synth-pop banger built on a B minor progression. It was, in many ways, an insane song, born out of the singer's own frustration and ennui.

"I was in the studio in a bad mood that day, then I got inspired and went to a corner and I wrote the lyrics and the melody in 10 minutes. The image of the she wolf just came to my head, and when I least expected it I was howling and panting," Shakira said.

Though the music was composed by John Hill and Sam Endicott, lead singer of post-punk band The Bravery, the lyrics were all Shakira's own. "[Shakira] contacted him (Hill), asking if he had any stuff," said Endicott. "We never had her in mind. We just made the thing independently of her, and then she liked it a lot, and she sang over it. She used some of the melodies we put in there and then wrote these crazy lyrics about being a werewolf. And that's how it happened."

Shakira - She Wolf www.youtube.com


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CULTURE

Cultural Appropriator Ariana Grande Ironically Sues Forever 21 for "Misappropriating" Her Image

Forever 21 already has a fraught legal history regarding knock-offs and violations of labor laws, in addition to numerous culturally insensitive products. But crossing the "7 Rings" singer may be their most public faux pas yet.

The only thing Ariana Grande and Forever 21 have in common is their love of cultural appropriation. But now it seems that Forever 21 has culturally appropriated Ariana Grande, and she's pissed.

To be more precise, Forever 21, the unofficial sponsor of Jersey Shore fashion and what 10-year-old girls think grown women wear, has been accused of misappropriating Grande's image. The 26-year-old singer has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the failing retailer, alleging that they hired a look-alike model and recreated distinct imagery from her "7 Rings" music video in order to promote their garbage, sweatshop-made clothing. Documents filed in California federal court detail that Forever 21 reached out to Grande for an endorsement deal, which "never came to fruition because the amounts that Forever 21 offered to pay for the right to use Ms. Grande's name and likeness were insufficient for an artist of her stature." Considering the fact that the company is expected to file bankruptcy soon, it was desperate enough to skirt around trademark laws and use Grande's likeness anyway.

Forever 21 already has a fraught legal history regarding knock-offs and violations of labor laws, in addition to numerous culturally insensitive products. But crossing the "7 Rings" singer may be their most public faux pas yet. "Rather than pay for that right as the law requires, Defendants simply stole it by launching a misleading campaign across its website and social media platforms primarily in January and February 2019," details the full complaint. "The campaign capitalized on the concurrent success of Ms. Grande's album Thank U, Next by publishing at least 30 unauthorized images and videos misappropriating Ms. Grande's name, image, likeness, and music in order to create the false perception of her endorsement."

Ariana Grande sues Forever 21 Evidence cited in the lawsuitNew York Times

In response, Forever 21 released a statement disputing the allegations. Despite Grande's lawyers claiming that the featured model is "strikingly similar" to the singer, the model's "uncanny" resemblance really lies in the way she is posed. Forever 21's ads clearly mimic the nauseatingly neon aesthetics of Grande's "7 Rings" music video, from the model's fashion to the set design. However, the clothing company denies the similarities and simply states: "We are hopeful that we will find a mutually agreeable resolution and can continue to work together in the future."

"Oriental Girl Necklace" sold by Forever 21 in 2011 Forever21

This type of lawsuit has plenty of precedent, with Kim Kardashian, Katherine Heigl, Vanna White, and Bette Miller among those who have sued companies for misappropriating their public images. Celebrities have the right to sue companies for using their likenesses without permission under laws like the "Right of Publicity": an intellectual property right that defends a public figure's "protected attributes" from being exploited for commercial gain without their consent. But the trick to winning these kinds of cases is proving that a celebrity's image has been damaged. Unsurprisingly, most cases settle out of court rather than go to litigation.

Real shirt sold by Forever 21 Her.ie


"Navajo" print...you get the point. Forever21

While Grande filed for $10 million in damages, the matter will probably be settled for an undisclosed sum. Perhaps she'll imitate Katherine Heigl, who sued Duane Reade for $6 million in 2014 after the company posted a paparazzi picture of her leaving one of their chain stores to their social media accounts; their settlement allegedly required Duane Reade to make a sizable contribution to Heigl's charity foundation.

Considering Grande's support of Planned Parenthood, perhaps some public good will come of this meeting of cultural offenders. Before (hopefully) filing bankruptcy, Forever 21 could empty its coffers to fight recent oppressive abortion bans and fund reproductive rights programs. Or they could just pay Ariana Grande more profit for wearing "culture as a costume." After all, it must be difficult to have her identity be co-opted for the sake of trend-setting and capitalist gain, but then again: irony.