It’s the morning after the MTV Video Music Awards. The annual awards show hosted by twerk queen Miley Cyrus featured Kanye West, Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, The Weeknd and Justin Bieber, plus a bevy of appearances from Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, Selena Gomez and more. We saw Kanye West rant—while admittedly high on pot—that he was running for President in 2020. We saw Nicki Minaj throw shots at Miley, Justin Bieber cry and yes, we even saw Miley’s nip slip. Somehow, amid the chaotic dysfunction, the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards was a total ZZZZzzzz…
The MTV Video Awards have historically celebrated greatness in music videos. Remember music videos? That thing that existed before YouTube killed them? Okay, music videos aren’t dead exactly (Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” has over one billion views) but the way we watch them has changed. MTV doesn’t play music videos anymore. The channel is pretty much devoid of all music programming and shows like Total Request Live and MTV Jams have been replaced by Teen Mom and Catfish. In this climate, how relevant is a show devoted to music videos? Let’s be honest, did you watch half of the music videos they were honoring? The execs at MTV sure don’t think so, since many of the big awards were given out before the show even began.
Still, the awards do have a place without videos. If the music industry is high school, the VMAs are prom and we tune to see who’s wearing what, who’s dating who and what crazy moments happen. Remember Madonna tonguing down Britney Spears or Beyonce announcing her pregnancy? The VMAs give us moments that go on to make pop culture history. Last night felt like the prom that none of the cool or edgy kids went to. The king and queen, Jay Z and Beyonce, didn’t bother showing up, and other A-listers like Drake and Serena Williams, J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar didn’t RSVP either. Instead, we got 3.5 hours of everyone gushing over Taylor Swift while Miley tried her hardest to be naked and rebellious. We get it Miley, you smoke pot. In 2015, grandmas with cataracts smoke pot. You ain’t cool.
What little controversy there was lukewarm and felt very staged. Initially, Nicki Minaj blasted MTV for not honoring her “Anaconda” video (thereby marginalizing women of color and size). Valid point, but then the rapper opened the show with Taylor Swift, an artist that represents the very problem she’s criticizing. The award for hypocrite goes to… After accepting an award for “Anaconda,” Nicki proceeded to call Miley a “bitch” for comments she made about the whole incident. The whole “beef” fails to sizzle and most fans wonder how real it is. Probably as real as WWF wrestling. Like Kanye and Taylor’s kiss-and-make-up sesh, I predict Nicki and Miley will hug it out by next year’s show.
Maybe the most glaring and offensive omission was topical content, specifically, social and political commentary. MTV is supposed to represent the voice of young people and young people care about the world. From #BlackLivesMatter to the 2016 election, MTV spotlight music and artists who care. Instead, we got Rebel Wilson’s disgusting joke about police brutality. Justin Bieber wasn’t the only one crying over that tacky moment.
At the end of the day, the MTV Video Music Awards is all a ratings game. Do viewers care about music and real issues or do they want to just gawk at Taylor Swift and her photogenic #squadgoals? Once the numbers come in, we’ll know what the future holds for the VMAs. MTV may change course and take it back to basics or they might keep churning out the PG, snoozefest we got last night. I want my MTV! My classic MTV.