“Dear white people… top of the list of unacceptable costumes: Me.”
The premise of Netflix’s recently released college dramedy-satire, Dear White People, revolves around an ill-advised Halloween party pitched by the staff of a fictional Ivy League college’s culture magazine, Pastiche, where attendees don an assortment of “urban-themed” costumes, many of which include Blackface. The show is a satirical take on “race relations” in America, with jokes about “wokeness” interwoven with genuine commentary on the often fraught interactions between people of different ethnicities — especially with regards to culture and appropriation.
And while the show is clever, tightly plotted, and slickly written, even its writers never could have foreseen how apropos it would be in real time, paralleling current events in entertainment, with not just one, but two different personalities in hot water for appropriating Black culture in the same week of its release. “Dear white people…” often sounds like the lead-in to a slander-laden tirade against Caucasian folks, but in the case of pop culture personalities like Miley Cyrus and YesJulz, there are greater lessons to be learned and taught… which is the whole point of the show in the first place.
“… And the Jay Z song was on…”
Until “Party In The USA” stormed radio in 2009, Miley Cyrus was just the latest “America’s sweetheart” model to roll off the Disney Pop Princess Factory assembly line, fresh off a successful second season of tween alter-ego comedy Hannah Montana. The show’s premise: A teen pop music star switches between dual identities — from regular teen Miley Stewart to eponymous megastar Hannah Montana — in order to enjoy the benefits of both normal life and ridiculous fame. If this doesn’t sound familiar, it will. After the release of her EP, The Time Of Our Lives, she went all-in on a “hip-hop-inspired” image and sound for her fourth LP, Bangerz, executive produced by Mike Will Made It. She debuted a new look that included an undercut, faded out hairline and custom, basketball-jersey dresses, and twerked across stage to tunes that now featured rappers like Future and French Montana. However, recently, in a promotional interview for her new album with Billboard magazine, she revealed that she no longer listens to rap music thanks to differences in “political” views.