There’s a heartbreak to the end of summer, but the advent of fall is a poison made more palatable with the crisp smell of sweater weather, the kick-off of the NFL season and the broadcast of the MTV Video Music Awards. Every September for the past 12 years I’ve watched the VMA’s. I’ve seen Jimmy Fallon mock Enrique Iglesias to his face. I’ve seen ‘Nsync and Brittany Britney murder Wade Robson’s choreography on school desks. I’ve seen Justin Timberlake command an entire theater with a single spotlight and a white suit. The Video Music Awards mark the unofficial end of summer and get us ready for the Lupe Fiasco kinda cool of fall.
That is, when they don’t suck, and last night? Last night was a GD shit show.
Last year MTV broad-casted the VMA’s live from Las Vegas, completely reimagining the stagnant “Awards Show” format with artists, bands, DJ’s and rappers performing in personalized suites throughout the entire show. The end result for the viewer at home was an exhilarating Rock & Roll lifestyle atmosphere. We were taken from the Foo Fighters rocking out with Cee-Lo to Lil Wayne freestyling with Gym Class Heroes. Kanye West and T-Pain performed a rendition of ‘Ye’s song “The Good Life” on top of the Palms hotel in a single camera tracking shot that culminated with the two overlooking Las Vegas, a helicopter circling over head. It was straight out of a Michael Bay flick, but it was live and so fruckin’ awesome.
How would MTV follow-up one of the most inspired broadcasts in the network’s history? Oh man, I bet they’re going to do some crazy shit and have – wait, what’s that? Really? You’re kidding me. Oh. This just in, ladies and gentlemen. MTV decided to do nothing innovative this year and air the most flaccid VMA’s since Diddy hosted in Miami. I hope you got that good plan with unlimited night minutes because, MTV, you phoned it in.
I never thought I’d say this but props to Pink and Kid Rock. You two came through and brought some much needed energy to a show that was terribly paced, under produced, and planned like a high school homecoming. Pink’s march through a studio lot screaming she’s a rock star while explosions went off around her on cue was pretty entertaining. As was her outfit. And Kid Rock, I don’t know where you’ve been the past 5 years but for some of that time you were definitely working on your pipes. Dude can kinda sorta sang. His performance of “Rock N Roll Jesus / All Summer Long” was a refreshing portrayal of vitality amidst a barrage of lackadaisical performances. Even TI’s tracks fell flat (except that one with Rihanna, that was toyt). But Kid Rock? Kid Rock hanged out. He even brought Weezy out for an impromptu verse, during which I think Wayne rhymed something along the lines of “I don’t know what I’m saying / I’m so faded.” But he made it all okay when he tried to sing a little bit toward the end.
I can’t really comment on the rest of the show since it was so mind-numbingly atrocious I had to switch over to NBC to watch the Bears blow out the Colts. Russell Brand seemed ambitious if not necessarily funny during the show’s opening by mocking the Jonas Brothers’ commitment to virginity. I can’t say that upset me since the Disneyfication of popular rock music ,personified by Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers, makes me fear for the authenticity of our children’s futures. How are they going to properly rebel and stick it to the system in their 20’s if they spent their formative years rocking out not to anti-establishment heroes like Nirvana and Pearl Jam but to promise ring-wearing commodities packaged and promoted by that overlord of saccharine entertainment, Disney? But Brand’s comments about a “retarded American President” are a bit offensive coming from a foreigner. Dude, we can insult our leader, but you can’t. Though it was interesting to note that people took offense to his comparison between President Bush and the mentally challenged as an insult to the mentally challenged.
Brittany’s Britney’s opening? Beyond lame. A cheap promotional stunt that underscores the total disgusting bull shit nature of MTV and validates every criticism Kanye West ever leveled at it. Jonah Hill tried to make it funny but it was shot and edited like a bad sketch for a high school AV class.
And what was with the space? The absolute absence of any audience excitement probably has to do with the horrendous pacing of the show, but that space was even unwelcoming for people watching from home. It looked like a bad fashion show with wide aisles, folding chairs, and massive empty areas. The people at MTV need to bone up on their Guy Debord because that is not how you create spectacle. What is our popular culture coming to when the Democratic National Convention is more raucous than the facking Video Music Awards? Oh right, the fall, as in not only the season but also the demise of MTV’s relevance as an agent of change.