I don't think America created a monster, but it has certainly condoned one by letting Kanye West throw whatever the fuck kind of temper tantrum he wants whenever the fuck he wants. Tonight he received his harshest punishment for that yet - a chorus of boos. Whoop-dee-doo. In fact, it seems almost unfair to scold him now -- he was just being himself, a manchild who believes that the Video Music Awards reflect something beyond politics. Aw. I wonder if he wants a teething ring to go with his adorable idealism! (That the trophies were so evenly distributed this year, with no one receiving more than one Moon Man, so as to reward all on MTV's A-list equally, speaks to just how political it's gotten, and it also makes Kanye look like a bigger asshole since Beyoncé ended up winning anyway.) And so, he got up and did his perennial performance. This is what you ordered, America. I hope at least you'll find pleasure in hating him now for the five seconds that you remember this. I wouldn't want you ever to feel cheated.
I did love how it all went down after he interrupted Taylor Swift to say that she didn't deserve the meaninglessness cast in iron that she was holding. He immediately followed it up with a childlike shrug...
...and then gave her back the mic, which she held as though he had just ejaculated on it...
And you know, given the masturbatory nature of being a blow-hard, he kind of did. Good call, kiddo!
The thing is, though, that he was not incorrect. Obviously, "Single Ladies" was a full-blown pop-cultural phenomenon, while Taylor Swift's video was a filmed game of dress-up. I don't even want to call the song bubblegum, because I doubt it will stick. It's just that Kanye delivered his message terribly. These instances are what the caps lock and exclamation points are made for. (Such tools aren't so great for backpedaling, though, as he tried to do soon after the show.) All this time and thought and emotion invested in the VMAs, and he still doesn't know how it works. He still doesn't know that even though logic would dictate that by not winning Best Female Video, Beyoncé was no longer in the running for Video of the Year, it wasn't the case at all. What an ass. And I know people think this was set-up, but I don't think he has a good enough sense of humor about himself to mock something he's as invested in as awards shows and his persona-defining overreactions to them. Besides, no one wants to be booed, and that's especially true for a crybaby like Kanye.
And yeah, Kanye cares too much (to an excruciating degree, BUT WE'VE KNOWN THIS FOR YEARS!!!!!), but you know who else does?
Taylor Swift! The only difference is that she's young enough for it not to be completely pathetic. Still, the entitlement was wafting off her as she strolled out from backstage (this, clearly was pre-meditated -- props to Beyoncé for not being so invested as to need to blather about nothing after receiving something that means just as much, but don't think for a second that you were watching spontaneous generosity). It was so ridiculous when, all put out, Taylor was like, “Maybe we could try this again..." and then launched into the same bland shit she was going to say when she actually won: "I would really like to thank Roman White, who directed my video...” You know what, if you love your fucking Moon Man so much, why not write a song about him? I bet it would contain sentiment so genuine that it would be revolutionary for pop music.
I knew that Beyoncé was going to win, too, when I saw the ease in her right before Jimmy Fallon and Andy Samberg announced the winner, when they were doing their ha-ha-we're-two-white-guys-singing-an-old-R&B-song-that-we-think-is-funny-because-it's-old-and-we're-white-ha-ha bit...
Look at her. It's like she's saying, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!" as in, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm about to win Video of the Year!"
But, you know, good for her for making their shtick a little more bearable.
I pretty much loved her all night (hence all the gifs!), except I was disappointed to watch her perform "Single Ladies," yet again.
I know that the spirit of the night is one of retrospect, but this song is like pop-cultural wallpaper at this point. But hey, at least it gave Katy Perry the opportunity to give her Magic: the Gathering cardmate (or whatever he is) the business...
So it was not an entirely worthless endeavor.
To me, the highlight of the night was Madonna, weirdly. Here's her tribute to Michael Jackson. It's worth watching again, I think:
Putting the misguided arrogance and accent aside for once, Madonna proved that she is at her most eloquent when she is plainspoken. I don't know who wrote this, but given the level of personal detail, it's clear that she had a lot of input. (Although, Michael Jackson didn't become a superstar at age 6 -- "I Want You Back," the Jackson 5's first hit, came out in 1969, when he was 11. That doesn't mean Michael Jackson had a happy childhood or one at all, it just means that Madonna's too-perfect parallel was, in fact, too perfect.) That inaccuracy was the only misstep -- Madonna's perspective was so valuable as MJ's one true peer. (That may be an exaggeration, but if it is, it's not by much.) She was able to make her speech personal, yet relatable. One of those things coming from a superstar is remarkable -- both at once seems something close to a miracle. I felt like everything about this -- from the delivery to the details like french fries and a quiet movie night at home -- was full of humility. It's nice to be reminded that such a trait is possible within superstars. (Love you, too, Bey!)
It's so weird, because for over a decade, I've been wishing that Madonna would just shut up and not try to say anything beyond insipid pop-music sentiment. I had no idea she had this kind of grace in her. I'm glad to be proven wrong about her, yet again.
And I have to say that I enjoyed Madonna's tribute more than Janet's. I mean, Janet's was pretty good and all. OK, this was awesome:
And I loved that instead of something slow and heartstrings-tugging, she did "Scream," which made sense and wasn't forced (although her pre-recorded voice did seem lower and hoarse, as if to let us know that she's been crying for the past two and a half months). Because the worst thing she could have done would have been, like, "Man in the Mirror," or some mopey shit. I was surprised, because when it was announced that she'd be doing this tribute, as much as I love Janet, I figured there was some sort of opportunistic motivation there. After all, she's only Jackson, and given the state of her career, she could really use some love. But no, this played out in a straightforward and non-manipulative way.
...for a while. And then after the show, she tweeted:
And lookie here, a new single, right on the heels of her entrance back into the spotlight via the coattails of her dead brother. Is this really that different than Papa Joe hawking his Blue Ray shit at the BET Awards? I mean, at least Janet's shit is arguably worthwhile, but still: it's as tacky as her brother's wardrobe.
So, Madonna's at the top of my list, Janet's somewhere in the middle (I pity her), and as for the bottom?
The. Worst. As chronically unfunny as cancer. I don't care about Russell Brand's erections, or whom he's trying to forcefully fuck or that Katy Perry's vagina is a "glorious entrance" or his misguidedly high opinion of Jack Black's comedic talent (although, it does make sense considering his own) or his up-to-the-minute recaps of shit we just watched or "two English human beings, one of 'em's Scottish, actually" or any of it. Can we just throw him and Kanye in a bag together every time there's an awards show so they can just entertain themselves or each other and leave poor little innocent us out of it?
Just a few more things I noticed:
Do you know how you look emo during a Michael Jackson tribute?
You know how you look like an asshole during a Michael Jackson tribute?
Do you know how you show your appreciation for a man who has covered half of his upper body in glitter?
Do you know how you nod to hip-hop?
This way, especially if Dr. Seuss is doing the rhyming.
She is like the weird girl who does things for attention, gets exactly what she wants and keeps right on being weird. She's Molly Ringwald's and Alley Sheedy's Breakfast Club characters rolled into one, and possibly with some weed.
Her performance? There was a lot going on. Maybe a little too much given the audience and time constraints.
It was Labyrinth...
...and then a nursing home...
...and I think people used to call her "Bloody Eyeball"...
Or, I guess, they do now. And then there was this:
So yeah, it was a lot. I loved her awful lip-synching -- it was so bad, it had to be on purpose, as some sort of a salute to past, canned VMA performances. I would not put referencing anything past this woman, especially when it's for the sake of performance.
My favorite screen grab of hers, though, wasn't from any of this stuff, but this:
I love it, 'cause birdie looks hungry.
Moving on, the winners of tonight's Best Losing Battlers trophy goes to...
...Green Day, for requesting that MTV play more music. I wonder who will win next year. Every year, it's the mysterious equivalent of whose name will be last in the year in deaths package at the Oscars. Only this is a little more serious. We're talking music videos here!
Shut up, Eminem.
The only thing more out of touch than his video (full of references to well-worn pop cultural territory, such as Rock of Love and Jessica Simpson in Dukes of Hazzard and Ellen DeGeneres being gay, all of which suggests that Em's on dial up while rest of us have FiOS) is MTV for rewarding it. I think we're supposed to care about everything he's been through...but, I mean, do you? Because I sure as shit don't. I found the fact that he looks sick...
...to be kind of comforting. Hopefully he has a severe case of mono so he'll go away again and sleep and sleep and sleep.
Oh, and this Taylor Swift performance?
The most obnoxious subway ride I've never suffered through. I've left cars for the next one over for so much less. This shit made me long for the gritty, old New York, when public-transportation mugging was the norm.
Instead of a spotter, Pink should have hired a titty jiggler. That would have made her performance complete. I'm sure Diana Ross had nothing going on. Think of her next time you want to want to expose a pastied tit, Pink.
For all of my deriding and bitching, I thought this year's show was OK as the VMAs go. In other words, it wasn't painfully shitty, just mildly so. It didn't make me hate life and pop culture like last year's show, so hooray for improvement! And plus, Jermaine Jackson was invited...
...and when is the last time that happened? Never ago? I mean, how special is that? MTV: making dreams come true one person at a time. All together now: THANK YOU, MTV!!!!