Normcore has been described as an ironic fashion aesthetic that revels in the ordinary. I want to play with the portmanteau offered by normcore, to instead explore via Miley Cyrus what it might mean to be normal, hardcore. I offer that normcore is a stylistic celebration of an exclusive youth culture, in which normative young white bodies are commended for their willingness play “ugly.” (Hey, is it Oscar season?)
In this video for “We Can't Stop,” Cyrus sings about "red cups and sweaty bodies everywhere." The video combines images of young people at a wild party strewn with red cups with those of Cyrus dancing while grabbing and spanking black women. Here the bodies of black women are likened to red Solo cups (a seemingly international symbol of American youth culture), and hyperstylized as the utmost party accessories. The resulting aesthetic is one of youthful disregard because "this is our party we can do what we want," and the bodies of people of color matter only inasmuch as they help to define a wild white femininity that laughs in the face of "haters" while repeatedly slapping black bottoms.
This spectacularly mundane juxtaposition of plastic cups and black bodies frames Cyrus’ white femininity as one of drunken abandon. Further, it is part of a long legacy of white women (especially pop stars) defining wildness and sexual outsiderness through a proximity to blackness. Thus, as others have also argued, Cyrus' refusal to line up neatly with gendered norms is based in a racial mimicry that relies on regimes of white supremacy and is only possible because of her distinct brand of normativity.
In an interview with teen style writer Tavi Gevinson for Elle magazine, Cyrus takes on her critics by recycling the popular “post-race” argument that race doesn't matter anymore. Cyrus agrees with Gevinson that what she is doing is "totally normal for people our age" but that doing it publicly gives it more meaning. Cyrus says, "I use myself as, like, a sacrifice for my fans, to be like, ‘Look, I am like you!’” Therefore, Cyrus can be seen as MC of an extra-ordinary party, that is "so turn't up, yeah." She is doing normal in a very hardcore way. In other words, rather than queer, Miley Cyrus is #normcore, the most hardcore normative young person one can be.