Putting a band-aid on terrorism

When I was a sophomore in college, I received an email about the death of another student. It was an attack on a street that for three years now I have ridden my unicycle through to get from my apartment to campus.

What was sent out was a brief and suspiciously quick memo to the faculty and students, one that someone could have scribbled in half a minute on the way out the door, trying to make it in time for dinner. “We are devastated to announce the death of a student who passed away last night after being attacked on X Street.”

(What actually happened was that a handful of men approached a young man walking alone in the evening and beat him senselessly with a sledgehammer. The student crawled home and passed away while waiting for help to arrive.)

“We assure you that this was an isolated incident and bear no threat to the rest of the USC community.”

(The truth was that it did. The boy was killed in the act of a hate crime against Asian students. Violence against Chinese international students, which make up 40% of the expansive international student population on campus, has become so severe that the Chinese Ambassador threaten to stop students from flying to the United States until American universities pledged to make them feel safer abroad.

I share these horrific and graphic truths with respect and condolences to the victim and his family. I also say them because administration pretended it didn’t happen, simply as a measure to wave away unnecessary panic, fear, or legitimate questions about university’s agency in letting things like this happen.

On Saturday, in the hours after an explosion rocked Chelsea, New York, initially racking up an injury count of twenty-five people, the only news that was released was that “there was an explosion in New York.” Hours later, the update was that though the attack was intentional, there was no way that this explosion was a terrorist attack. (Clearly, this conclusion was based on empty assumptions of the attacker’s background, I thought. I have many more thoughts on this that I will likely share later.)

Once another explosion was detected, statements released that it was a terrorist attack were followed immediately after by the popular mantras of not letting the terrorists win, and never allowing the citizens of the United States to fear such attacks.

Keeping the truths hidden about the danger people are in. At this point, we’ve become acquainted with fear. The biggest fear is not that horror like violence and public attacks exists, it’s that we are blindsided when they happen to our families, our friends, or ourselves.

Now, it’s obvious that preliminary precautions are taken to in the interest of preserving peace and order in a hectic time. But it’s another thing entirely for the Mayor of New York to step out only to make the statement that “We believe this was an act of intentional intent there is no credible threat against NYC at this moment”.

Besides the fact that the mayor had so little information that he was compelled to recycle the same word twice, there is no possible assurance that the mayor could give that the city remained safe under attack. In fact, even after the arrest of Ahmad Rahani, officials stated that they could not say with certainty that there were no other bombs left undetected.” Sounds like a credible threat to me.

It is no longer constructive to replace valuable and life saving informations with affirmations that Americans are strong and vigilant. It has certainly never been constructive to make traumatic incidents such as this a push for campaign interests (Trump). Most of all, as Ezinne Ukoha says in her article on the same matter:

It is irresponsible and quite frankly repulsive of our leaders to perpetuate the notion that we don’t have any reason to fathom our vulnerability — despite our country’s heightened exposure and involvement in seedy global affairs.

Our nation’s obsession with appearing dauntless and gallant shrouds the legitimate threats to security that will exist, whether we choose to see him or not.



Mahmood Mamdani: the mouthpiece to the forgotten continent

by Alya Omar

“If power reproduced itself by exaggerating difference and denying the existence of an oppressed majority,’ Mamdani writes, “is not the burden of protest to transcend these differences without denying them?”



In his essay titled, “The Decline of Public Intellectuals?,” Stephen Mack pushes against the lamentation of unheard public intellectuals by touting the enormous “financial, technological, and cultural power” of academic institutions, emphasizing that education continues to be the centerpiece of some of our most cherished social myths. This merits some truth. In fact, the evidence of this fact can be seen in my own backyard (quite literally) at the University of Southern California. With a 4.71 billion dollar endowment and the nickname “University of Scattered Construction,” the bricked administrative buildings and residences are seeping into the Los Angeles community like a gentrifying, domineering powerhouse. From a less cynical standpoint, the money generated by the business that is the university serves to fund groundbreaking research that does indeed change the scientific, economic, and political fields as we know them. Many of the charitable endeavors to “give back” to the community are campaigns with USC student organization names stamped on them. But what Mack fails to mention is in order to maintain the cultural power that these academic institutions carry onto their pupils and neighbors, they are deliberate in selecting and building a backbone of intellectuals that do not challenge its status quo. On the contrary, such institutions must find and only hire faculty and staff that color within the lines of the picture they work so hard to paint. After all, as “the centerpiece to some great social myths,” not many universities can afford to hire just about anybody with loud ideas. Such was the mistake that was made in the case of Dr.  Mahmood Mamdani, the director of the Makerere Institute of Social Research at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. While many American people reading this blog wouldn’t think or blink twice at the name, Mamdani is famously known in African studies as a spearhead of changing the way historical Africa is taught and contemporary Africa is seen. In assigning these two objectives as his academic mission, Mamdani is shouldering the struggle of not only undoing the colonial structure that continues to govern African institutions of learning, but also of dismantling the apathy and the limited worldview that the rest of the world has historically viewed the concept of “Africa.” What I mean by this can easily be seen at media depictions of Africa, which are often limited to topics of war, poverty, and the occasional ebola threat. Such depictions feed (or don’t feed, rather) our worldviews, and we end up with even our own Vice President describing Africa as a “great nation.”

So Mamdani has a lot of work to do. More specifically, however, Mamdani is an intellectual that studied African intellectuals. His book, Citizen and Subject, was contributive to the long had discourse of the racial legacy in colonialism because he uniquely focused on how it persisted in institutionalized academics. In South Africa, whose racial segregation and racial power dynamics ended in astonishingly recent history, Mamdani notes that the oppressive British and Dutch systems continue to shape the way government is structured, classes are taught, and the city is organized. “If power reproduced itself by exaggerating difference and denying the existence of an oppressed majority,’ Mamdani writes, “is not the burden of protest to transcend these differences without denying them?” (Mamdani 8).

It has since been named one of Africa’s greatest books of the 20th century. Following the success of his book, Mamdani moved to went on to teach at the University of Cape Town, a stint which ended after a disagreement between him and the rest of the university on how African studies should be taught (more on that later.)  Following that dismissal, from 1998 to 2002, Mamdani served as President of CODESRIA – the Council for the Development of Social Research in Africa, headquartered in Darkar, Senegal. He joined the faculty at Columbia University in 1999, where he currently spends a semester each year while also heading up the Makarere Institute for Social Research. And just in case he would find himself with any free time between writing journals, he is also Herbert Lehman Professor of Government at Columbia University in New York. Many who are arrogant with their ignorance would say that a man they’ve never heard of couldn’t rightfully be considered a public intellectual, considering that the “public” part is noninclusive to the majority of my readersphere. On the contrary, Mamdani was once voted the world’s ninth most important public intellectual by the US’s Foreign Policy and the UK’s Prospect magazines. Despite these badges on his sash, much of his teachings have never been caught by the Western world, a cultural barrier between the “west and the rest” that ironically serves as the focus of his writings. Nevertheless, he firmly stands as the quintessential public intellectual of Africa, one whose teachings could make significant impact on the budding intellectuals of individuals in the United States.

In 1996, Mamdani was appointed by the University of Cape Town as the AC Jordan Chair, a position whose mission is to “champion the integration of African studies into research, teaching and learning at undergraduate and postgraduate levels within the university’s various faculties.” Subsequently, he was appointed the director of the Centre of Africa Studies, tasked with the job of developing a foundational course for the new field of study that would best resemble a most holistic and honest education on a very wide and misrepresented subject. Mamdani immediately set to work on designing a course, and was surprised to find himself quickly dismissed and his project hurriedly deferred to another director. It seemed the faculty that reviewed his curriculum found that the course had “too much focus” on history, an approach that was too derivative from the university’s goal of focusing on modernity. From my interpretation (and Mamdani’s), the faculty did not seem to consider the African narrative before the arrival of the white man to be anything of importance. In fact, the curriculum that substituted Mamdani’s was split into three phases: pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial Africa. This last part was focused on Africa’s disintegration after the departure of the white man. In the precolonial section, Mamdani reports that the new curriculum had a focus in Archaeology, an approach that he says is a “poisonous introduction for students beginning school in a post apartheid university.”

By continuing to look at Africa as this unchanging, essentialized process as the birth of humankind and the home of our dusty ancestors, we create no real moving picture of the millions of years that have passed since Lucy died. Instead, we reinforce the framework that plays and replays this still portrait of an undeveloped, archaic land. Another issue to which Mamdani continued to draw attention was the fact that the only real literature in use in African schools was a textbook that was developed for North American students in the 1970’s that had since been updated twice. Furthermore, he points out that though primary texts are widely available, hardly any of them are used in formal curriculum in higher education. What’s more is that little has changed since —  this outline is very similar to the curriculum that I followed in my semester studying at the University of Cape Town just a few months ago, in the spring of 2016.

The support of those following his writings and his suspension spanned across people from every walk of life that were working to decolonize African education. Jonathan Jansen, Vice Chancellor of the University of the Free State, states: “What Mamdani may have done was to touch a raw nerve in the post-apartheid curriculum debate: the colonial fingerprints of the curriculum-makers, their own prejudices and histories, passed on to unsuspecting black students as tried and tested truth. He questions not only the geography of Africa but also those who defined it: white, tribal, privileged, powerful. For Mamdani curriculum is identity and this crucial point in missed by his detractors.” –Jonathan Jansen “But Our Natives Are Different! Race, Knowledge, and Power in the Academy.” In this essay, Jansen echoes Mamdani’s submission that post-apartheid Africa could not be actualized without changing the narrative that resulted from all African education coming from sources outside of Africa. From Bantu administration to customary law, it is maintained again and again that the departure of the white man ruined Africa and made it the unstable and dependent entity that it is today. In this example, Mamdani serves as the public intellectual that doesn’t receive his clout from his university credentials or his institutional power. On the contrary, his established space as a publics intellectual came from his resistance to this status quo. By trying to dismantle these aforementioned “social myths,” Mamdani is stripped of his formalized position. His continued success and widely read articles reveal, however, that public intellectualism is not about who the person is, but rather it their importance comes from what it is they have to say.

It is ironic, then, that the Western world and the United States in particular lends a deaf ear to the contemporary challenges of postcolonial and post apartheid Southern Africa. Mack makes a one sided point when he mentions the lack of hostility that the American people have toward the public intellectual. What he doesn’t mention is hostility’s quiet, deadlier brother — apathy. The only time one will see South African news is in the event of a rugby win, a misguided charity campaign, or some idiot that found himself there with a gun and the desire to murder an exotic animal in the savannah. Barring those events, African news rarely makes an appearance or a ripple in the laundry list of American consumption. Hence, there is legitimacy to the lamentation that the American public doesn’t “respect, follow, or hear the intellectual,” in Mack’s words. More specifically, American attention is focused on public intellectuals that speak to issues that most directly affect the lives that are right in front of them. When African lives are seen as tribal, intensely foreign experiences, there seems little reason to believe that such lives matter in the here and now. Maybe the intersection of the American and African political spheres don’t intersect quite enough to lend urgency to our relationship. Maybe the business opportunities aren’t as apparent in countries that are still working to decolonize their governments and establish financial dependence.

But as Mack mentions, it is arguably the obligation of every citizen in a democracy to understand and participate in institutions that would shape their lives. Furthermore, I would submit that it is the obligation to know about institutions that shape other lives as well. And so if public intellectuals have any role to play in a democracy—and they do—it’s simply to keep the pot boiling. The measure of public intellectual work is not whether the people are listening, but whether they’re hearing things worth talking about. And while it’s been accepted in the general public that nobody needs to care about Africa, it is people like Mamdani that serve as a reason for people to start listening. The truth is that the same limited perception that is being taught through the colonial gaze is the same one that has reached our own textbooks and worldview. If UCT can’t offer a post-apartheid education to its students, there’s little chance in hell we’re getting the full picture either. This limited education is what influences our racist media, shortsighted knowledge-base, and our appropriation of cultures and habits that we don’t bother to understand. If not for the interest of lending an ear and a measure of empowerment to African intellectuals, it should be in the interest of knowing the truth for truth’s sake.




Don’t Shoot the Messenger… But Don’t Draw the Messenger Either

This morning, the office of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical and self-proclaimed “provocative” magazine in Paris was subject to a terrorist attack, leaving 12 people killed. The attack was a response to a series of controversial comics, including one depicted Prophet Muhammad with a human face.

As is the popular sentiment, I am horrified to hear of the massacre of the innocent journalists as Jesuis Paris. It hasn’t been confirmed that this is the doing of radical terrorists, but let’s be real. It was. Their actions were not justified and they deserve to be objected to immediate consequences for their inexcusable actions.

There are two issues here. The first is the misconception that these terrorists are Muslim. For one thing, these people are not Muslims. As I want to shout from every rooftop located in the Western Hemisphere, Islam is a religion that holds peace and acceptance in its highest values. Muslims don’t say hello and goodbye, they say “peace be upon you” and “with peace, goodbye.” Though the political cartoons were targeted at provoking all Muslims, the people that responded with executing them do not deserve to be called Muslims. However, there is an unspoken population here that were hurt and offended by these illustrations. And it’s this silent people that will continue to be mocked the retaliation plans for these terrorists. “Draw Prophet Muhammad Day” is not the right direction to take a reclaim for freedom of speech. As my friend Kyle put it, “I’ve always been of the opinion that satire should mean something more than just “f*** you,” so the whole “let’s keep drawing Muhammad” is pretty despicable.”

With that, I want to talk about the second issue, the issue of provocative journalism.

  1. Who are you provoking? All Muslims. We’re talking a faith that comprises 23% of the world’s population.
  2. Why are you provoking them? Besides the classic “because we can answer,” maybe it can be said that it’s a mission to sensitize words and pictures that people take too seriously. To that, I say that some people will never understand how holy and sacred something can be to some people. Again, not to the extent that they have the right to kill. Let me reiterate that. Killing is wrong.

In a more understandable frame, I think it’s fair to compare the caliber of this to putting the N-word on the cover of a TIMES magazine. Do you have the freedom to do so? Technically, yes. But why, why, WHY would you?

I guess I’m ultimately struggling to understand the concept of a provocative magazine. And I’m struggling to understand how so many crazy people are able to so grossly misinterpret the philosophy of the Muslim faith.


And The Mountains Echoed

Hosseini knows exactly where a person’s heart is, and he knows how to rip it apart. And And The Mountains Echoed left me a total mess.

I tend to cry about a lot. A lot of things do it for me, like cracking knuckles, not getting enough sleep, seeing someone I love unhappy, and Youtube videos of dogs seeing their owners come home from the military. Whatever. It doesn’t belittle the fact that this book is heartbreaking and touching on a universal level. It’s enough to make Nick Offerman crawl into fetal position. 

you get the point.

you get the point.

It starts with a fairy tale about a poor man who encounters the embodiment of Satan after it kidnaps his favorite son. The man finds his little boy living a beautiful, happy life in paradise, and he’s given the choice of letting his son grow up without him, knowing that the boy will never want for anything, or take him home and struggle to feed the boy, let alone buy him that Lexus he’s probably going to ask for once he hits sixteen. At this point, I’m already crying, and this theme of sacrifice, of loving someone so much that it hurts yourself, plays out over and over again in the stories that make up the rest of the book. Each chapter is a subplot of the characters orbiting around the relationship of Abdullah and Pari, a brother and sister that love each other to bits and that get separated (again, more crying). 

The strangest thing for me as I was reading the book was how much of it spoke to my own life. 

Hosseini writes a bit about survivors guilt, as experienced by two young men that move to California before the war in Afghanistan began. Hosseini has given a name and a thousand perfect words to the thing that’s been eating at me since the revolution in Egypt a few years ago. The two boys go back to Kabul and decide to make a dramatic documentary to bring back to America, so that “people can understand,” and so that “they can make a difference,” but most of all so that they can sleep in a suburban house with the windows open, drive a nice car, and take cute girls on dates without having to question every day what they did to deserve a life so much luckier and more hopeful than that of the people they love. In the process though, they alienate themselves from the Afghans that (shocker) don’t want to star in a Hollywood documentary or become the poster child for “those poor people on that side of the world” and just want to reconstruct the pieces of their life that the war tore apart. 

Not to mention that when I say the boys live in California, I mean the Bay Area. Specifically, San Jose. Specifically, in a street fifteen minutes away from my house. As in, one of these fictional boys goes to a Gold’s Gym that I drive past every so often. And Abdullah, the main character of the novel, owns a “fictional” kabob store that’s actually 20 minutes into San Jose. I thought I was going crazy when I was reading, but it turns out Khaled Hosseini, my favorite author of all time, lives a tiny ways away from me in San Jose. I might have taken his order at Sandwich Spot (which would be so much easier to notice if people actually gave me their real names. We live in Cupertino, y’all. I knew how to spell Kshitij before I knew what “Walmart” was. You can’t all be really named Steve.)


Anyway, this book is up there in my top five favorite books (you’re still there, Junie B. Jones), and I recommend it to anyone looking to mess up their mascara. 


5/5 stars 



Cage the Irrelevant

(copied from a really nice notebook i bought a week ago)


well you can’t write things that mean without paper right so is it really my fault if all we have is lined paper and printer paper and notebooks all over the house and other useless canvasses so naturally i need to go to marshall’s and get a journal and it has to be a really inspiring one too not one i’ll be embarrassed to carry outside when i’m out every day furiously scribbling my limitless ideas and theories and stories so it’s a good thing this one with a worldly cover is a dollar more than all the other ones so that i’m more motivated to write and not leave my 5 dollar investment to die alongisde my knitting needles and alto sax but see now i’m so pumped about this notebook and my new up and coming life that i can’t be honest with myself and write substantial stuff so how about instead i’ll make a list of cute girl names to name my baby in a few years god damn i’m so prepared for my future life that there’s gonna be no way i’ll feel as lost and hopeless as i do now 




well shit all i can come up with is matilda maybe i should consult the list of cute girl names i came up with the other day when i got stuck trying to write something meaningful or maybe just maybe i can for more than three seconds entertain the idea of writing something a little more profound instead of giving up and trying to beat 2048 for the ninth time this half hour i don’t think i’ve moved from this part of the bed for the past three hours how am i supposed to be inspired in a place like this for god’s sakes i need to surround myself with movement and intellectuals so i’m gonna head over to starbucks next to panda express

and god all there is here is a girl calling her boyfriend beb and ordering a drink that sounds more like a recipe for a spaceship than one of a latte but who am i to judge i can’t even write one thing that could change the world and knock people off their feet so it’s time to stop dillydallying and just check facebook one last time to see what everyone and their mother is up to because this constant lifestyle of writing that i’m about to start will keep me busy for weeks and i won’t be able to contact anyone on account of how hard i’m working and yes i might lose some friends and loved ones in the process but that’s the price you pay for drafting the New World Order

but i can’t write that because i already know it’s not good enough and if i can’t get it perfect in my first time then i’ll know for sure that i’m not good at writing so i’ll just drop this whole thing now because you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take but you also don’t screw any of them up now do ya buddy

i feel like that king in that story that everyone looked up to as the wise man of the kingdom and one day he took that vow of silence and everyone was like wow how edgy and cool and indicative of the edgy and cool notion that most words are empty and not really worth saying when you really get down to it so the days go by and the king remains true to his (unspoken) word and the people remain waiting anxiously for the wisdom the king is sure to drop when he decides to end his silence but see the problem in this scenario is every passing moment is another measure of purpose the king must justify the long wait and after a while you realize that there is nothing in this world you can make that would fill the enormous silent hole you dug yourself in

and worst of all is that i don’t have any people or wisdom and most of all no throne because my kingdom is just a bunch of demons plotting to lock me up from the inside out


More things you missed out on while you slept tonight.

Jetlag is a ridiculous concept. Never did I feel like I had to lie there and try and convince my own body that it wasn’t walking through the streets of Asia anymore. So while the peasants of Cupertino sleep-farted and snored, they missed out on a real party. Here’s what you missed:

– watching part one of my favorite documentary about women who are sexually attracted to buildings

– googling said buildings on Google Maps

– creating a custom Google Map, marked with every place I’ve ever been to, from specific libraries to national monuments to various Petcos and Safeways

– a trip to the freezer for a disappointing ice cream Drumstick (if ever there is such a thing)

– a remapping via Google Maps of a nice walk I took in a ghost town with a friend long ago

– finally closing Google Maps about an hour too late

– a few pages of a book I left home while I was in Thailand… I completely forgot all of the characters and I can’t remember which one was the rapist

– a few brimming tears as I realize the farmers market I wanted to be awake for starts in 4 short hours

– a huge moral internal debate about whether I should fast tomorrow or whether I should eat a crepe at the farmers market

– 2 miserable attempts at braiding while lying down

– a thorough investigation of trying to find the cool girl I met on the plane knowing only her favorite movie and current university

– a thorough Facebook stalking of a man in Scotland whom I have never met but stumbled across while looking for Plane Girl

– a thorough Google Map exploration of Scotland


Through tonight, I’ve learned nothing about the importance of time, and everything there is to know about Scotland. Goodnight, everyone.


Thailand: Day 1

I woke up for breakfast this morning and found myself face to face with what I believe to be every Muslim’s secret dream, the unspoken wish bubbling deep within: Beef Bacon. I stood at the buffet for what seemed like a thousand years, trying to decide if this is was the real life or just a fantasy before doing a backflip and taking three.

A note to every person in my lifetime that told me how much I was missing out when it comes to bacon: I do not understand. It tastes like Slim Jim. Total downer.

After eating my weight in shrimp dumplings and and noodles and dragonfruit (how everyone in this country is so skinny is the Eighth Wonder of the world) we set off to see the most beautiful temples I have ever seen in my entire life.


ImageIt was in this temple above where a Thai monk blessed me. Karim and I knelt in the front while he flicked holy water and tied ropes to our wrists. I’m completely in awe of the unconditional love and relentless peacefulness of this culture.ImageThe Reclining Buddha was so huge it put the broken feet statue of Lost to SHAME. We visited four temples and the royal palace, each more gorgeous and elaborate than the next. I’m tempted to post all 707 photos I took today.


We took a small boat to a restaurant by the river and returned about 70 pound heavier. We sunk the boat. Back at the hotel, a mini army of massage masters we met at the palace were there to essentially beat the crap out of my entire family. I am baffled by the people that claim to fall asleep during these things. I spent a good chunk of the time biting my pillow, trying with all my might not to scream or laugh or kick her in the face. It was the smallest lady in the universe vs. the tallest Egyptian in history, and she won by a landslide. Afterwards, my parents came into the room and we spent a good half hour laughing about getting our butts massaged. I spent the evening finishing A Thousand Splendid Suns by the pool and watching the sunset.

In short (after the long), Thailand is gorgeous. I’m in love with the way people bow to each other to say hello and thank you and how much they love their king. I’m in love with Buddhism, Pad Thai, and the little Thai umbrella I bought for the sun. And I’m already excited about tomorrow, when we visit the floating river markets.

Chan ra Meung Thai. Kob Khun Ka for reading.


Notes from Gate 32 in Hong Kong

It’s 6 am in Hong Kong, and I’m sitting at Gate 32 waiting for my connecting flight to Thailand. My trip so far has been a series of me sitting in different chairs around the world for so long that my ass has permanently molded into a flat desktop.

There are about 50 people in this entire airport and I am taller than all of them, except for the one that is my father. Karim and my dad spent a collective twenty minutes trying to explain to me that concepts of crossing the dateline and technically jumping forward in time, but I spaced out halfway through and I’m confused about what day it was and what phenomenon of which I was just a part of. All I know is that it was a 14 hour flight to get here and this city is so humid that my afro grew an afro. I watched “Knocked Up” followed by “This is 40,” 3% because my iPod died, 2% to drown out the siren of a girl behind me, and 95% because of Paul Rudd’s face. If God made the world in six days, I’m certain he spent two on trees and hamsters and crap and four of them planning Paul’s face. It’s ridiculous.


I want to point out that airplane food is bullshit. There was an option of microwaved omelette or something called congee, and I went with the one that sounded cuter. It wasn’t cute.

ingredients are bullshit and the outputs of a leaky infant

ingredients are bullshit and the outputs of a leaky infant

The great thing about this flight was that they had a camera attached to the bottom of the plane whose footage you can watch live.

Witnessing a plane departing from a midnight city was just as beautiful as watching is come into China at daybreak. It was also nice to be able to visually affirm that the sketchy turbulence was the plane flying through a cloud and not towards King Kong or anything.

Anyway, the sunrise in Hong Kong is beautiful. The only thing that gets me is that all of the huge buildings look exactly the same. I can’t help but think that I would forget which one was the building of my workplace. The possibilities of awkward moments are endless…

My next flight, the one to Thailand, is four hours long. น่าตื่นตาตื่นใจ!


In defense of “We Can’t Stop,” aka Just Bein’ Miley

(watch before reading)

Many who have watched Miley Cyrus’ new music video for “We Can’t Stop” call it the weirdest, most uncomfortable video they’ve seen. Little do they know the backstory of all the individuals in the video who allegedly Can’t Stop:


A guy with a money sandwich: David had come to the party immediately after a 6 hour shift at Safeway, and was starving. He had opened Miley’s fridge to find nothing but sugar, some of Jefferson’s bread, and 68 kilos of heroin. Desperate, David opens Miley’s pantry to find hundreds upon hundreds of dollars. Sighing, he makes himself a sandwich, wondering why They Can’t Stop. 


A boy whose smoking, burning genitals require immediate medical attention. Poor Kevin doesn’t want to ruin Miley’s party so he just smiles and looks down, praying to God Almighty that nobody can see his tears. It must have been something in the hot dog he pulled out of the pinata. But hey, they Can’t Stop. Not even for flammable genitals.


A girl whose severed fingers require medical attention. After slicing her fingers off as a holy sacrifice to the Twerk Team, poor Susan watches in horror as her stumps begin oozing not blood, but Pepto Bismol. This girl’s problems are embarrassing on several levels, and are likely to ruin Miley’s party, so Susan has to suck it up and somehow make her fatal issues sensual. She looks at us, sexy pout complementing her stumpy, bleeding fingers, and whispers an arousing “Ow.” The camera cuts off before we see Miley licking Susan’s dead body. They can’t stop. 


A guy with way too much sliced bread. Miley decided to invite to her party That One Guy that never gets invited to anything. Bad idea. Jefferson misread the invite to the “We Can’t Stop” party, and proceeds to bring his 70 pound collection of sliced white bread to her living room, shoving slice after slice into his mouth as the party watches, too embarrassed to ask him To Stop.


A guy that kicks Miley in the head while she’s wrestling with a girl in a sea of hot dogs. This is my favorite party guest. I want him to Never Stop.


The girl with lips painted a few inches off from where they should be: Lindsay is a single mother who hasn’t left the house since her daughter was born. Miley called her and insisted she come, promising that there would be many good looking prospects and that it would be a good idea to put herself back into the game. Upon arriving, Miley took one look at her and told her to “twerk it up a little,” ushering Lindsay into her bathroom with a tube of her least diseased red lipstick. Lindsay realizes that Miley forgot to pay the electricity bill, and in the dark, dank bathroom, attempts to put on lipstick as accurately as she could. She should have stopped, but They Can’t Stop.


The taxidermic animals: Old Helen across the street was invited by accident. Honored to finally be welcomed by Miley, she had arrived with her 7 cats, eager to show Miley her precious pets. She leaves for a few minutes and comes back to find Miley had killed all of her cats, using their insides as hot dogs for her pinata.


The hot dog pinata: See above. 

I don’t know if Miley needs someone to talk to or just a long walk in a park, but 5 out of 5 doctors agree that perhaps it’s time To Stop.