So the VMAs happened on Sunday night and subsequently dominated the internet this week. While watching the show, it seemed obvious that certain things would grab everyone’s attention (Yeezus2020 & Taylor Swift domination), but there were also some aspects of the show that deserved more attention (Twenty One Pilots and A$AP Rocky’s performance), and others that over saturated my news feed in the worst way (it doesn’t matter that Nicki Minaj called Miley Cyrus out. It really doesn’t). Here are my thoughts.
Historically, the VMAs are known for crazy outfits and shocking moments, and it somehow continus topping itself. This is the stage where Brittany kissed Madonna, Lil Kim dressed as a mermaid-pornstar hybrid, Lady Gaga wore a meat dress and this year…Justin Bieber had a 30-day Instagram marketing campaign to promote a mediocre song which he performed while flying and ended that performance with a huge sob-fest. Just kidding! Obviously Kanye announcing that he’s running for President in 2020 was the biggest “VMA” moment of the VMAs this year.
I thought the idea of having Miley Cyrus host the awards was brilliant. Having an award show without a host is worse than having James Franco and Anne Hathaway as hosts. It just doesn’t work. Miley, on the other hand, worked perfectly. I thought her outfits were expected but the surprise performance and (free!) album announcement at the end of the show was certainly not expected but I’m thrilled that it happened. I think Miley has one of the best voices among her peers and I honestly wish she would showed it off like she does here:
In terms of her nudity, I think Miley, herself, said it best on her appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! a few days before the award show. When asked about how her dad feels about her being naked on TV all the time she replied, “I’m sure my dad would rather me be naked and a good person, rather than have a shirt on and be a bitch.” This is why I never understood why people were so bothered by her being naked and dancing on TV. People act as if that’s not what’s all over the television anyway. But unlike other artists, Miley is very active with her Happy Hippie Foundation that works to “rally young people to fight injustice facing homeless youth, LGBTQ youth and other vulnerable populations.” In her own words, Miley is a vegan nudist, and I think that does more good for society than the “harm” she causes.
The VMAs lost 3 million viewers from last year’s show (not counting later broadcasts and online views). Upsetting, but not more upsetting than the headline “VMAs hosted by half-naked Miley Cyrus lose MTV 3.3 million viewers.” If anything, Miley saved the show and balanced the overwhelming presence of Taylor Swift and her gang. (Sidenote: There are so many Mean Girl references I want to make right now but I’m actually afraid of Taylor Swift fan-trolls). The VMAs haven’t had a host in five years and as someone who has never missed a major award show for as long as I can remember, I can vouch for the fact that it has always felt awkward. As his 28th and final show as VMA executive producer, Van Toffler gave carte blanche to Miley and she was allowed to do whatever she wanted with the show, with a 10-second delay of course. He also revealed to Billboard Magazine “We originally thought Kanye was going to do a medley. Then we thought he was going to not do music and talk. Then, about two acts into the show, we thought he would do a couple-song medley. This is after the show started. Then, about an act before, we found out that he might not do music and just speak — but we had to be prepared for both, so we had a track cued up. We were in the truck and we heard this 10 minutes before he was to accept the award.”
Even though I really don’t believe Kanye should have said anything negative about MTV in his award speech, he definitely had one thing right: the show will do anything for ratings, so much so that it has overshadowed what the awards are supposed mean. If the nominees were chosen based on quality of music, over who floods the radio, there wouldn’t be a need to depend on the drama and nudity for ratings.
It just seems so obviously political. I understand that politics is inevitably going to have some part in the awards, but I wish it wasn’t so obvious. This is why I understand: it makes total sense that Bad Blood would do so well because it is a well made video with a variety of cameos, and the Instagram campaign introducing characters ahead of the release of the video was smart. And of course it was going to make for a better show to end the night with a group of models and actresses excitedly running up on stage to accept the award. Who doesn’t love Gigi Hadid? Taylor is also smart in the way she brings people up with her – figuratively and literally. Her tour is proof of that. I fully support the idea of bringing others up, but then I find myself wondering if Katy Perry’s absence was coincidental and it feels political again. Toffler killed rumors that this is the last year of the VMAs so I am curious to see what happens next, and regardless, I’ll be watching.