Open Letter to Sufjan Stevens About His Open Letter to Miley Cyrus

Dear Sufjan,
People been passing around that letter your wrote to Miley Cyrus in an attempt to insert yourself into a conversation that dosen't involve you between a bunch of people who don't care what you think. I imagine you're pretty proud of yourself. After all, it got you a mention in USA today. So I'm sorry to break it to you, then, but actually the whole thing makes you look like a total douchebag. And not for the reasons VICE magazine says you're a douchebag. As if VICE magazine had any room to talk. No, the problem isn't that you got shit wrong and made typos. Everybody gets shit wrong and makes typos. The problem is more esoteric than that.

First, it's kinda weirdly racist. As you know, the whole kerfuffle surrounding Ms. Cyrus lately got started by criticisms that she went on MTV and somehow appropriated black culture in a way that is illegitimate and racist. On MTV. Now, I don't want to delve into the ins and outs of all that here, because frankly I think there's very little in pop culture that doesn't hark back to minstrelsy and mass culture was born from assholes ripping off black artists. At the same time, I think it's pretty dubious to say that anything anybody does on MTV can ever be truly authentic since the first time it played The Replacements "Bastards of Young" video in 1985. So the shock and outrage seems a bit overplayed to me.

But so anyway, I don't want to get into all of that because that's not a conversation I want any part of and neither should you because its nothing to do with us and the sooner people stop having it the sooner we can all start having a genuine panic about this nonsense going on in the House of Representatives about which we can do absolutely nothing until a full year from now and how the fuck are we going to make it that long before the fucking tea party fucking kills us all with crazy stupidity?!?! But I digress.

The first issue with your letter is that wading into this debate with your wikipedia researched assertions about the English language actually was kind of racist because you purport to correct grammar appropriated correctly from African American Vernacular English, thus delegitimizing the perfectly regular and established grammar of Spoken Soul simply because it's not how you think folks ought to talk. Total Dick Move.

See, in AAVE the various present perfect forms are morphologically regularized with the conjugation "been." The tense is then variant based on stress rather than morphology. So, what's going on in Miley's sentence is not the present perfect continuous, but the present perfect remote. The regularization has rendered the auxiliary verb "to have" completely redundant in the phrase "I been layin' in this bed." Or to put it another way: ""The auxiliary verb in the present perfect tenses and moods been redundant, son." Now, present perfect remote ain't a tense in Standard American English, so you're forgiven for not knowing about it, but speaking authoritatively from ignorance is a surefire road to the town of looking kinda douchey. But also, you got that wrong in a racist way in an attempt to cutely insert yourself into a media dialog about racist appropriation. And that looks real douchey, dude-bro.

But that's not even the biggest issue. As you yourself admit, you aren't the best lyricist. But even the most devout AC/DC or ZZ Top fan, two bands not known for their lyrical breadth or subtlety, would understand what you have apparently completely missed: the verb "to lay" is a very well-worn euphemism for the carnal act. In your failure to comprehend the bald double entendre in Ms. Cyrus's use of the verb "laying," particularly in bed all night, and all the masturbatory baggage that such an image brings along with it, you have in fact taken away from Cyrus the sophistication of adult subject matter and effectively made her a child for you to schoolmarmishly correct.

The feminists (and VICE magazine for some reason) call this "mansplaining" but I don't think you need to go to the noxious newspeak used by the Blogosphere's Social Justice Outrage Porn Addicts in order to see that really that's just really condescending and dickish regardless of the genders at play.

So yeah, that's all I have to say. You got it wrong. It's not the end of the world. After all, you're still a minor celebrity not nearly all the way down your slide into obscurity. I'm told it gets better. Maybe you'll even get a second run late in life. Stranger things have happened.

But stop embarrassing yourself like this, because it just makes it harder on the rest of us who are tired of hearing all you wankers narcissistically talk about shit we don't care about in a badly veiled play for some last gasp of your dwindling pop cultural relevance.

Knock it off.

Yours Sincerely,
JFQ

P.S. Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror and think "I'm sick of playing this dumb acoustic guitar soulful singer songwriter frat rock nonsense, I just want to rock the fuck out?" Because that happened to Dylan, and he was way better at that acoustic guitar folk shit than you are. Just a thought.