Twerking it out with Miley and Walmart

August 28th, 2013 | by Will Dean | Comments

So how are you feeling about Walmart these days?

I have friends (gay and straight) who don’t like Walmart because they say it represents the worst of capitalism — underpaying workers and putting small entrepreneurs out of business by its influence to acquire and sell goods on the cheap — allegedly (as Kathy Griffin would say).  

But on Aug. 26, it was announced the commercial giant is extending health and other benefits to the domestic partners of employees. That includes same-sex partners.  It makes good business sense for the largest employer in the U.S. to be inclusive of gays, considering the climate of the nation is shifting toward greater acceptance.

Indeed, it almost seems like a different society, a better one, when Walmart acknowledges its LGBT employees and provides to them the same benefits  as all employees.  

Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign who worked at a Walmart store in his youth,  said on that the company “has sent a cultural signal that equality for LGBT people is the simplest of mainstream values.”

However, former employee Lucas Handy, who’s gay, said that he and other employees wouldn’t be able to afford the health-care coverage. He made $8.95 an hour before he was fired in July.  While Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg said Handy’s firing was because of policy violations, Handy said it’s because he spoke about the company’s labor practices. He now collects unemployment and volunteers with OUR Walmart, a union-backed group.

So, how should LGBT shoppers feel about these latest developments? Perhaps, Griffin said it best as a part of his statement: “We look forward to continuing to work with them.”

Twerk it out, Miley

Miley Cyrus gets people talking with this MTV Video Music Awards performance on Aug. 25. Getty Images

Miley Cyrus gets people talking with this MTV Video Music Awards performance on Aug. 25. Getty Images

I like Miley Cyrus. I like her raspy voice (when she speaks — wink!), her new editorial fashion sense, and her youthful exuberance. A lot of other people like her too, which explains why she’s been able to transition from Disney princess “Hannah Montana” to adult pop star.

But it’s been several days since she displayed on MTV’s Video Music Awards the type of star she wants to be, and people are still buzzing about whether her performance was appropriate. I didn’t see the actual show, but have watched YouTube clips of it. With her tongue out (Mick Jagger-style), wearing a rocker bustier (Madonna-style), she stomped onto the stage and performed “We Can’t Stop” with futuristic teddy bears. That segued into her singing and playing the anti-good girl for Robin Thicke as he performed his summer hit “Blurred Lines.”

What I saw during the segment was a former child star following a well-worn path to sexy grownup singer — a la Britney, Christina and so many others. They all did it. Even Rihanna had a more wholesome image in the beginning.

Why do they change?

I can only guess it’s because they actually grow up and, because of self-identification or striving for commercial appeal or both, want to be seen as sexy women. I suppose they could transition into ladies who sing or Baby Janes who refuse to grow up, but who would buy their music then? (Well, the Baby Jane thing might work for Britney. Seriously, with the outlandish makeup, it could be an artistic pinnacle, her Gaga moment.)

I sort of get where Miley’s coming from. My issue with her VMA performance is that it wasn’t a good performance. It was a Kentucky-fried mess (nod to dad Billy Ray’s Kentucky roots). She didn’t sound good, dance well or command the stage like a pro. She could have used a more focused intention and choreography. Imagine what it would’ve been like if Miley really sang and snarled and twerked her *&%# off —like Pink might have done.  That would be something to see and talk about.

 Still love you, Miley, and want to see you take your talent to the next level.

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