Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The VMA's 2015: MTV's Complacency With Hypocrisy

Where to begin with the 2015 VMA awards? On the surface it was an ‘awards’ show, bubbling underneath, or viewed in blazing Neon-like strobe lights at the forefront, was a spectacle of the millennial culture. A schizophrenic show where the quote “any publicity is good publicity” is taken like a life-abiding motto and the latest in-trends, including progressive ones, are mashed down into a bloody pulp of mockery, drivel, and hypocritical statements. It was three hours and MTV, Miley Cyrus and their carousel of stars begging for attention, presented a grand total of 7 awards, making the VMA’s a parody of itself that the namesake of MTV has already maintained since the turn of the century. As I mentioned before, it’s hard to find a place to start to unravel this Pandora’s Box, as nearly every performance, every award-bearer, every skit, and every ‘joke,’ was laced in irony, hypocrisy, and untold amounts of disdain towards anything substantial. Above all else, and most striking about the whole ordeal, was MTV’s unabashed proliferation of any progressive movement, distastefully marring serious topics with crude, Internet-based humor, where the line drawn between the two was washed away in a sea of glitter, confetti, and ignorance. 

Surprisingly, no matter how hard she, her costume designers, and script writers, tried Miley Cyrus was one of the least impressionable parts of the whole show. Her insistence on being the center of attention drew so thin that by the end, excluding the end cause that’s a whole different story, anything she’d do or attempt would be met with a scoff and a “that’s Milers.” No outfit shocked, no joke felt honest, and even the full-on nip slip either done on purpose or unplanned towards the end has been met with little to no reaction. Her outlandish persona has seemingly reached a limit, and while those continue to talk about her, she can’t conceivably top herself no matter how hard Cyrus or MTV tries. The most offensive part, at least to my eye holes, was seeing Cyrus’ parents watch in amusement, as their integrity continued to sink to levels beyond fathomable, the lust of fame, money, and attention outweighing any semblance of humanities good side. In fact, apart from her abomination to cap the show, the only thing Cyrus would be mentioned in would be her sly comeback to Nicki Minaj’s call out, when a typically crude and disingenuous individual stopped the presses to call out the presses in the most political way possible, blaming her remarks on Minaj’s stance with Taylor Swift’s ‘white feminism’ on the media and how they twist her words. 

Speaking of Swift, the constant focus on her and her ‘Mean Girls’ continually reinforced the disparity between cause and action, a girl vouching for acceptance while doing nothing of the sort. From what was shown to the masses Swift only interacts with tall, skinny attractive people, the furthest thing from society’s norms, those same norms where she ‘hopes’ everyone gets treated equally. Her forced interaction with Minaj’s disappointment of black females being nominated still leaves a strong distaste in my mouth, Swift’s line of thinking that “all us women are clearly equal and in this together” shows just how blatantly out of touch she is. The capper to this ideology was her quote following her (predictable) video of the year award, saying that she wants to live in a world where “boys can play princesses and girls can play soldiers.” Feminism, a movement she vouches for, allows for acceptance of all to do anything, not just swapping pre-arranged gender roles dating back decades. In fact, thanks to the transgender community and their non-exclusive gender definers, the day where anyone can do what they want and not be held back based on gender may soon approach, Swift wanting them to flip accomplishes nothing. 

But I digress, and ingress into MTV’s blatant hypocrisy at every turn. Numerous times during the show, including certain commercials promoting good messages, started out strong only to be derailed by comical fodder or distasteful shoe-ins. A commercial I was even shocked by, a full-on disapproval of all forms of smoking, hookah included, played many times throughout the show. A strong message reaching a large audience. The same audience though that laid witness to Cyrus’ final hoo-rah, the song ‘Dooo It!,’ with the opening lyrics of “yeah I smoke pot, yeah I love peace, but I don’t give a fuck, I ain’t no hippy.” Not to mention the constant mention of Cyrus’ obsession with weed, using Snoop Dogg, amongst others, to help portray her as a pot-fiend. Then there was ‘Dooo It!’s’ introduction, a well-thought out piece highlighting trans people in our society, spoken by the trans people themselves. It was heartwarming and refreshing, only for that all to dissipate the second dozens of Drag Queens stormed the stage in outlandish attire, sending the message that MTV thinks the two are inseparable and worthy of compare. It happened elsewhere too, where insightful statements on police brutality and #blacklivesmatter led into “Music Video with a Social Message,” only for crude Rebel Wilson police jokes, an LAPD death joke, and Cyrus’ extremist cultural appropriation including the use of “Mammy” to precede it, nullifying any substance the declarations had. 

I’m going to sidestep a bit and talk about that “Music Video with a Social Message” award, for their complete lack of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Alright’ might have been the most obvious case of MTV's delusion during the VMA’s. It wasn’t as if they didn’t know it existed, it did win Best Direction and was nominated four times after all, and yet, out of every award presented here, none better fit the mold than ‘Alright’ and Music Video with a Social Message. The song itself got chanted during a protest in Cleveland. If that’s not enough to get a nomination, I don’t know what will. A song concerned solely with rising black pride during times of police-enduced turmoil to be ignored after introducing an award with a speech on the same subject is ludicrous. 

After looking over what happened Sunday night it’s no surprise the majority of respected artists, apart from Kanye West there to accept the Vanguard award, weren’t present. Big time hitters Beyonce, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and more were M.I.A., more concerned with their integrity and craft than partaking in blasphemous shenanigans. And, as would be unfortunately expected, MTV only rewarded those who endured the VMA’s because their lust for fame couldn’t be more pressing. Every winner, apart from Fetty Wap who won based on fan vote, was present for the show, a telltale sign of “play by our rules and you’ll get rewarded.” Even some that were there to perform, namely A$AP Rocky and The Weeknd, felt peeved by the whole fiasco. 

The 2015 VMA’s were a self-congratulatory rendezvous of artists abiding by MTV’s rules and regulations. An over-the-top, Internet meme-laced, attention-seeking assortment of fame-seekers with no basis for decency. And yes, while writing this, I felt my inner grumpy old man emerge. To ease those concerns a bit, I enjoyed a good deal of the performances. Every downtown L.A. show was well done, from Macklemore prancing around to his new song, to Demi Lovato tearing it up, to Pharrell performing ‘Freedom.’ The Weeknd also did great, and while not as good as the Kendrick Lamar/Imagine Dragons matchup, A$AP Rocky and Twenty One Pilots was interesting and unique, albeit a bit cluttered. It’s just with all the joy I have every year of watching this show, the problems looming overheard are becoming too substantial to ignore, this year’s being excessively grotesque and trite. With such a strong foothold in the millennial’s culture, every move MTV makes is followed, tracked, and listened to. While they vouch for equality and progressive movements, partly because of their trending status, they also accept the mockery those placing themselves in the limelight are bound to get by agitators. It's as if it acknowledged both Tumblr-esque movements of progression and those that constantly ridicule them. Coming from the same source though, it boils down to hyper levels of hypocrisy that’s disheartening to see in 2015. Ok, rant over. Hope it wasn’t as scatterbrained as Kanye’s. 

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