3 Things Miley Cyrus’ Appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Teaches us about Nudity

If you havent seen it, you should watch the following clip with Miley Cyrus, who was recently invited to be on Jimmy Kimmel’s show.

Watch that here:

(1) Jimmy Kimmel’s Embarrassed/Flustered:

We live in a culture that will fine people, even imprison them, for not wearing clothes. The transgression is nudity. Flesh. Skin. Nudity is treated much like death, we don’t like to talk about it. Hence, why our television screens are covered in advertisements for anti-ageing creams and new pop-culture fashions almost daily.

Rather than talking about why we feel uncomfortable with nudity (some of it, could be a hangover of Judeo-Christian values which are can still be seen prevalently in Western politics). We avoid what we fear. Now, for some, fear might seem like too strong of a word. But, is fear, in its most simple form, other than something that makes us feel out of control or uncomfortable? The course of the 6 minute interview Jimmy is not comfortable. (This blog is not attack on Jimmy Kimmel!). Jimmy stands in as a metaphor for the social discomfort that is prolific across our culture. Hence, why #freethenipple is such a radical notion (as Miley mentions), because it challenges this discomfort head on-but, also fights for an egalitarian spirit that we have yet to see, which is gender discrimination. Namely, that men can walk around half-naked, but women can’t. That is a problem, which still then supports patriarchy, which we’ve tried for centuries, its time for equality.

(2) You can be a jerk with a shirt on

Miley makes the point that one cannot be naked or a form of it and be a jerk. What is she referring to? Inadvertently, she is referring to the very same thing that is making Jimmy Kimmel uncomfortable – our culture of shame with the human body. We don’t seem to like our bodies. Its as if clothes hide the vulgar parts of our bodies, or our realization that we think its vulgar, much like all of the anti-ageing face creams. In Christianity, and even in some Greek belief systems, the body is seen as a prison. Now, the irony, as you may have already noticed, is that the Greeks did what we do now, objectify the female body (remember all of those marble statues of women and their bodies?) – this is one major issue that has to be dealt with, women, in a generic sense, need to not be treated as sacred – I don’t mean this in a derogatory sense. But things like rape, prostitution, and even pornography (which, yes, isn’t just women, but stats say women tend to be used more frequently) are all after-effects of this objectification. Men and Women should not be treated as Gods. This is a huge issue. But rather, we should be treated as equals just because of who we are, because we value equality above and beyond our own fantasies of one another.

(3) The Nipple is the problem

We’ve sexualized certain aspects of the human body. Why does a nipple have to be fetishized? What’s so special about it? It’s as if we desire to keep a part of the body sacred, untouched, as if to imply that if we don’t see it, we don’t know about it, a transgression hasn’t been made.Its like when we have these interviews that block out the faces of those who commit criminal acts – as long as we distance ourselves from it, then we can distance our connection to it.  If we distance our connection to it, then it allows us to commit all kinds of transgressive acts (i.e., I can masturbate to this because I don’t feel responsible (or a connection) to it. (Note: I am not saying masturbation itself is wrong, but that we create a cycle of transgression and shame by hiding our behaviours and attitudes towards certain areas of our bodies).

So, Free The Nipple is an attempt to emancipate us from the need to feel shameful about our bodies. It’s quite radical. It can slowly move us away from the internal angst we have been socially/parentally been conditioned to feel towards our bodies. Nudity is not the enemy, shame is, and Miley stands as a reminder of this!

Gun Control is about: Identity.

The notion of gun control is haunted by a series of things,in American history, its haunted by a constitution that demands a right to bear arms. Right? Well, not exactly, it seems 200 years on and we have forgotten that the right to bear arms was written for a “well-regulated militia“. Let’s be honest, we are in an era that does not have a ‘well-regulated militia’. If anything, we have people decrying the government because of the possibility that they don’t get to use their automatic weapons to protect themselves from wild ravenous squirrels. This period of human experience easily being one of a re-occurrence of the civil rights movement (in the USA), has us re-investigating what it means to be human in a time of so many changes. If there were a zeitgeist (dominant school of thought) informing how we all should live on this planet, one would surely be, identity.

From whether Islamic women should be wearing Burka’s (and their freedom in general), from the infusion of feminism in the acting industry with Reese Witherspoon & Patricia Arquette, from comedians-turned-revolutionaries to a sitting President who is now just starting to be presidential. From countless victims in the black community at the hands of trigger-happy servants of the State to Fox News being the purveyor of everything that is wrong with American politics and ideology. Identity seems to be the theme-du-jour, from many Hollywood names coming out as either ‘bi’ to becoming trans, there is a desire to be known today. To stand on a notion, that who we are matters, that something at the core of who we are is worth fighting for. Now, this stance on identity is ultimately a two-edged-sword. Because if we become dogmatic about personal identity, then the identity tends to become victim by the ‘personal’.

What do I mean? Are you familiar with the difference between a person and the persona? So, a really simple example would be like Brad Pitt who has a persona when in the limelight or pervaded by the press, and the person hiding behind the media-saturated persona that the general population tends to think he might be. The same thing happens to us. There are certain things about our identity, and the knowledge about that identity that itself has a history. Meaning, what it means to be white, has a history. Whiteness started somewhere, at least our knowledge did, Blackness started somewhere, Orientalness started somewhere, in this case, in the Orient. But over time we live up to certain stereotypes that become the norm and never challenged. Like women are bad drivers. Which isn’t true. It’s just a socially-agreed upon stereotype. Or certain members of the black community live in poorer neighborhoods. Let me be clear here, statistics do not prove anything, only that numbers can be manipulated to justify any ideological stance.

Back to identity.

So, if you fight for your identity (black, white, gay, trans, feminist and etc.), you also fight for the historical ‘persona’ that comes with it. Can you fight against the socially agreed upon stereotypes, fuck yes! And we should. But, it is an uphill battle. However, identity is not just as easy as fighting against certain historical stereotypes, mainly due to the fact that eventually identity invokes ‘rights-based’ thinking. This is where we begin to believe that who we are is actually who we are to the point that we cannot separate the ‘who’ of what we are (human) from the ‘who’ of what we have inherited (i.e., our knowledge of what it means to be black and etc.).

Right-based thinking is an incredibly Western concept. It makes the individual the center of their own microcosmic reality. The king or queen of their own island. Rights-based thinking was meant to be a universal declaration not the privatization of self, the neo-liberal foundation which supports this epidemic of the individual is the very reason why we are where we are. We have perverted something that was meant for all (i.e., human rights) and have created monsters of ourselves. But, what do we tell our children to do with monsters? Turn on the lights. And thats what scares the shit out of us, because, if we do, the only thing we might see is ourselves holding a gun. If we want to change the landscape around the notion of gun control, we have to start with ourselves and always be willing to challenge the government. They are not the last word on human progress, they should’ve never been. We need human responsibility not human rights. If I am responsible for you, and you for her, and her for him and so on, then rights aren’t necessary. Neither is the idea of a ‘right’ being infringed. But, does it scare you, to give up your own individualism for the betterment of a future without guns? Does it scare you to lose the illusion of all that power? We need to start asking why.

This is exactly what’s happening in the fight against or for gun-control. There are some who can’t seem to let go of the idea that the right to bear arms (again which is a misreading of the very constitution they’re quoting) is who they actually are. They and the gun are one.

Another element to be dealt is the reality that if we want to deal with gun control, we have to stop fetishizing guns. From Nerf one’s to the prop guns used in action movies. We have imbued the gun with status, identity, power, and god-like control. From the cartoonification of violence (think Wile E Coyote & Road Runner) to the glorification of the colonized ‘Old West’ we have inundated ourselves with a myth surrounding the need for a gun. A gun is not a necessity. A gun is a choice. A gun is not who you are. It is not a right. It is does not hold some magic power that makes you ‘He-Man’, if you have to use a gun to protect yourself, did you ever feel safe in the first place? If you know what a gun does, what does that say about your value of other fellow-humans? If progress is always defined by the need for force, then is progress actually ever happening? We need to begin asking hard questions and seeking out the answers towards a better human project.