The MTV VMAs haven’t been all that relevant since before social media, even though MTV and Big Daddy Viacom have tried really, really, really hard to make them cool.
Now that we have full access to our favorite celebs 24/7, it’s not a momentous occasion when they walk a red carpet or do something crazy; it’s just another night on Twitter. It’s been a few years since this writer has sat down to watch an entire VMAs instead of just scrolling through what they call “awards show Twitter."
But with the promise of a Britney Spears performance, I made a date Sunday with my bestie, a bottle of champagne, and some Ro-Tel dip to get my judgey pants on, and tell you what I loved/hated about this installment of MTV’s biggest, brightest awards show.
1. The resurgence of '00s MTV VMA royalty, like Britney Spears, Puff Daddy, and even Fat Joe. Please continue to pander to me, MTV. Even the set (yes, I know it was Madison Square Garden) looked a lot like the old Celebrity Deathmatch. Oh, the golden age of MTV.
2. FOUR Rihanna performances. No one cares if Rihanna sings live or even sings at all with her backing track because Rihanna is just so cool. Rihanna does not give one single fuck. She has so much star power that even if she’s just pacing back and forth on the stage you can’t stop looking at her. A Video Vanguard award well-deserved, IMO.
3. Kanye speeches. We should all begin our day with a rousing speech from Kanye West. And the video for “Fade,” which Ye premiered at the show, was gym motivation for months to come.
4. Girl power. Beyoncé brought the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Mike Brown along with her to the show; Serena Williams presented; the #FinalFive were in attendance; Rihanna performed “Rude Boy” and “Work” with a squad of talented, beautiful dancers…it was straight girl power the whole time.
5. Lemonade. Um…duh? The Internet was rumbling with rumors of a Bey performance, and she, true to form, did not disappoint. Chills all the way 'round. How is Bey real tho?
1. Lack of host. Does this mean we’re old? There wasn’t a defined host of this year’s event, and we kiiiiiiinda wished for a traditional monologue of bad jokes. Key and Peele stepped in as fake “influencer” commentators, which would have been better as a skit and not a running gag. DJ Khaled made a gallant effort (as did our own Lizzo, who should’ve been a VJ), but we kinda missed the old school host days. If anything, it moves the show along. Couldn’t Pitbull have done it?
2. The “Who?” dilemma. Watching the 2016 VMAs had us feeling like our parents watching the Grammys, where you’d see a familiar face like (X) and then be like, “Wait, but who is Lukas Graham?” For someone of my advanced age (28), there weren’t a ton of recognizable faces in the audience. No Justin Timberlake, no Biebs … not even Katy Perry could take time out of her busy paddleboarding schedule to show up? Our Lord and Saviors Kimye were in attendance, but their nemesis Taylor Swift was absent. And where was Zayn? C’mon, MTV, gimme more than Fifth Harmony.
3. Placing Britney near the end. I’m a Britney super fan (I guess we go by “stan” now?) and I was seriously hoping she would open the show. Alas, we had to wait. It wasn’t the most amazing performance in the world, but still. Britney. Twitter was quick to put Britney down, which is unfair, and to be honest it was unfair of producers to place her after Beyoncé. Britney Spears made and kept MTV relevant throughout the '00s, and it was cruel to stick her where they did. It was also strange to focus so much of the show on G-Eazy, but that’s a thinkpiece in itself.
4. Do they present awards? No, seriously, are there even awards given out at this event? From 8 to 10 p.m., they gave out approximately three awards. Did it used to be like this? Maybe it’s just been awhile since I sat through an entire VMAs. It definitely didn’t used to be a two and a half hour concert.
5. No Taylor. Taylor Swift didn’t submit anything to the VMAs, so she and her squad weren’t in attendance this year, and can ya blame her? This is a bad thing because of all the Kim/Kanye/Taylor/Calvin/Katy drama. It could have been seriously soapy. Tay’s been laying very, very low since the dawn of Kim’s “gotcha” Snaps, and who knows what she’ll do to regain her crown as the Queen of Nice. We didn’t miss her awkward dancing this time around, though.