Something occurred to me last weekend when I was watching Miley Cyrus on SNL. I was reminiscing about the time that she was the musical guest for SNL at home and completely crushed it. I can’t tell you one Miley song outside of “wrecking ball” but I may have been denying myself, because that woman has some fucking chops. It made me wonder, why have I never been a Miley fan? Why have I steered away from her at every time? When I sat down and did some self reflection, I realized that I wrote her off because I always thought she was performing. Which is an absolutely ridiculous criticism of any public figure, because they’re all performing. Every celebrity, every influencer, is always putting on a show for the public eye.
One of Miley’s outfits Saturday night was a tanktop/t shirt situation held together artfully by safety pins. Artful ripping, pre distressed jeans, and especially stylish safety pins are the epitome of posing to me. In the old days, the punk bands and their fans had clothes held together by safety pins because they were so broke they couldn’t afford new clothes. But here’s the thing – even the original punks weren’t being authentic. They came together because they weren’t accepted by mainstream culture and they formed their own. The old school punks created a culture that still suffered from toxic masculinity and insisted that everyone in their club stick to a very specific set of rules. They may have looked like heathens and anarchists, but if you stepped outside of the line they would cancel you.
How is it possible for anyone to be their genuine selves when they are only allowed to live within certain parameters? There are countless stories of bands getting signed and then being disowned by the scene. Laura Jane Grace documented her fear of being disowned by the only people that had “accepted” her in her book Tranny: Confessions of Anarchist Punk’s Most Infamous Sellout. The punk scene had accepted her, until she broke their rules.
Cliques exist so that we feel accepted, but their acceptance only brings fear of potential rejection. Whether it’s the anarchist punk scene or the celebrity club, the members are expected to adhere to a certain set of behavioral rules. No one can be authentic within such parameters. Whether the safety pins are stylish or functional does not indicate the authenticity of the person – it’s whether or not they want to be wearing them.
It seems to be about high time that we stop judging people for whether or not they fit in to whatever set of rules that we’ve made up. It’s time for us to allow for authenticity, for diversity inside of our own circles. It’s time to evolve.
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