MTV VMAs: Tacky, trashy, try-hard - and totally terrific
MTV's VMAs are so low-rent they're brilliant, writes Kirsty Blake Knox
Published 01/09/2015 | 02:30
The MTV Video Music Awards are pure pop pantomime.
An achingly uncool red-carpet affair where singing studs and starlets dress up as parodies of themselves, tearfully thank Jesus for his guidance, gyrate into cameras and become embroiled in faux celebrity spats.
There are even reoccurring stock characters - the overbearing matriarch (Madonna), the angelic ingénue (Taylor Swift) and the obnoxious and deluded prince charming (Kanye).
It's tacky, trashy and try-hard. Needless to say, I love everything about it.
It's the lack of worthiness that make the VMAs so appealing.
I mean, where else would you see Madonna make out with Britney Spears or Eminem threaten to deck Moby?
Is there any other mainstream awards ceremony that would conclude with a phalanx of celebrity drag queens slaying, sashaying and death dropping to the stage? I doubt it.
And then there's the fashion: JT and Britney's double denim; Lady Gaga's meat dress; Lil Kim's purple nipple pasty; and Rose McGowan's chain-mail number.
But in recent years, the spark and spontaneity had faded slightly.
In 2012, ratings dipped after some nominees, including Lady Gaga and Adele, failed to show, leaving host Kevin Hart scrambling.
And last year, organisers made the ill-judged decision to have no host at all. The fools!
Thankfully, Disney's fallen angel Miley Cyrus came to the rescue, restoring some of bubble-gum sense of fun and made the ceremony relevant once more.
We all remember when Cyrus caused a sensation at the 2013 VMAs for twerking in front of goatee-loving misogynist Robin Thicke while wearing a giant foam finger. The performance sparked thousands of earnest think pieces and lead to the inventor of the foam finger - Steve Chmelar - to declare that Cyrus had "degraded" an iconic piece of sports paraphernalia.
Miley gets a lot of bad press for wagging her tongue about and wearing nipple tassels in lieu of clothes, but I've always preferred her to media-managed stars like Swift or Little Mix.
Cyrus is sexually provocative but not in a coy or vulnerable way. She doesn't bat her eyelids innocently at cameras.
She's confrontational and confident, she dyes her arm-pit hair, and shouts about "freeing the nipple".
That feistiness needed to be injected back into the VMAs and Cyrus did just that.
She's picked up the mantle from HRH Queen Madge who performed 'Like A Virgin' at the first ever VMAs way back in 1984.
This year there were plenty of catty and camp moments. Nicki Minaj threw serious shade at Miley, Kanye announced his intention to run for president, Bieber cried while his ex Selena Gomez looked mortified on his behalf.
Some dismiss these VMAs 'scandals' as gimmicky and manufactured but this is La-La Land where everything is fake - so let's just embrace it and have some fun. It's a bombastic and brash show, filled with plenty of booing, hissing, and air kissing.
It may be contrived and uncool but let's not overlook all the iconic moments the VMAs gave us. This is where Nirvana's Krist Novoselic ended up smashing his bass guitar over his head, where Britney Spears and Madonna locked lips in front of JT - the scandal!
It's also where we watched Brit Brit come crashing down in 2007 when her under-rehearsed staging of 'Gimme More' saw Rihanna laugh in her face. Ouch.
And who could possibly forget R Kelly performing some choice pieces from his 22-part hip-hopera 'Trapped in the Closet'. For those of you who don't remember the legendary musical series, the narrative involved promiscuous midgets, spatula wielding nosey neighbours, extramarital affairs, and scatology.
That's why the VMAs are so important. They are a perfectly placed pop barometer.
An arena where fads and Zeitgeists have flourished and floundered. Miley gave the VMAs their mojo back - let's hope things stay this way.