MTV gets a lot of grief about losing it's music video mojo, but after last night's debacle of a Video Music Awards, rejecting the music world doesn't seem like a bad idea. At least in the interest of sanity.
By now the world knows about Kanye's chumpy upstaging of dixie teen-queen Taylor Swift; moments after (adorably overwhelmed) Swift scooped up her first Moonman for Best Female Video, Kanye West nabbed the mic to praise Beyonce, who Swift beat out for the award. His 'chivalry' was met by a chorus of boos, while poor Taylor stood motionless in the unfortunate surreality of the moment. MTV crew-folk did their best to mend the mood, but, as a stagehand whisked Swift offstage, and the Tracey Morgan bumper reel hiccupped its way onto the screen, the awkward turtle just kept on swimming.
Peppered between A/V club level camera work, performers and host-types alike reveled in the night's strange juxtaposition of stumbling unpreparedness and elaborately polished pseudo-insanity art. The latter refers specifically to our gal Lady Gaga, who somehow fit a . . . creative (?) recital of 'Paparazzi' in between her costume changes (there were, like, 4). Jumping out of a befeathered neckbrace on loan from Queen Amidala, Gaga took the stage in a little white leotard, which, by the conclusion of her act, soaked with fake breast blood. The blood bit worked in tandem with the rest of the routine, which told the story of one woman lurch-dancing to fame, stealing a crutch from someone in a wheelchair, and then doing something at the end of a rope that looked a lot like hanging herself. What. The. Heck.
Meanwhile, Russell Brand, acting as the evening's host, cushioned the televisual sucker punch by making light humor of nearly every significant female performer in attendance; that is, during every break, he made an ill-timed, ill-received crack about having sex with one or more of the young women in the audience, culminating in a line about rufie-ing Megan Fox. I hope MTV heard the silence following that one loud and clear. Dislike.
Redeeming points of the evening can probably be summed up on one hand. Jay-Z was great (except when Lil Mama showed up onstage . . . and uncalled for), particularly with help from the unfathomably talented Alicia Keys. Beyonce's 'Single Ladies' spectacular cemented her starpower, while her ardent request that Taylor Swift take her acceptance time reminded everyone that no, you don't have to be a selfish moron to be famous. Andy Samberg and Jimmy Fallon won serious points for their Boyz II Men breakdown, and the punk bands (Green Day and Muse) brought the house down.
And can I just say, while Janet Jackson dropped a few moves during her tribute dance to Michael, the generic, non-famous, non-special backup dancers throughout the evening were phenomenal. The show's opener, which featured 20 or so of these untitled should-be stars dancing along with MJ's biggest videos, was incredibly powerful, totally spot on, and incredibly energetic. Beyonce's gals shared the same strength, and, given the bizarre concept, Lady Gaga's dancers really held it together. I might not even have to go see Fame now (though, please, that doesn't mean I won't).
So, sorry, MTV. I know you and music are on rough footing right now. Was yesterday the day the music died? Not necessarily. But it was the first time I wanted to put it out of its misery.
photo courtesy of the Examiner