Pop Culture 101: MTV’s VMAs

Every year I get suckered into watching the VMAs, mainly because MTV has become a pop culture phenomenon and I feel that if I miss at least some of the annual awards show, I will regress culturally, and will begin saying things that are so five minutes ago, like “Who let the dogs out?”

Nevertheless, every year, I am left utterly disappointed, and begin wondering who, exactly, is responsible for defining pop culture over at MTV these days, because, to be honest, it sucks.

This year Diddy hosted, and the motto was “anything can happen.” Unfortunately, “anything” didn’t include a decent performance or joke. The intro to the show pretty much defined Diddy in general. All buildup, no climax. Watching it, I was like, “Oh shit – something crazy’s going down! Things are blowing up! Trapeze artists are hanging from the ceiling! I can’t wait to see where Diddy goes with this! Oh boy – here we go!...” Yeah...we never went. And another thing about Diddy - he pulls this same crap when it’s time for him to dance, and he did it AGAIN on Sunday. It’s like, “Oh no…You guys don’t WANT me to break it down…Hey – Omarion is coming out!…I feel a battle coming on!” And then he does some really awkward head gestures, and that’s it. Over. Finished. I mean, can he dance? Even I would be able to break out the running man or something in a similar battle situation with Omarion. What the heck is going on here? I’m confused.

Here were the wild, crazy, and “unexpected” twists and turns that occurred under the pretense of “anything can happen.” A) Diddy gave his watch away. (Holy crap – Diddy, you generous bastard! I can’t believe you DID that. Where the heck are you gonna find another watch?) And B) MC Hammer performed. I don’t know what’s worse – that the biggest surprise of the night involved MC Hammer, or that it was hands-down the best performance of the entire show. Also, before the show started, Ludacris informed the television audience that there would be a big surprise. He couldn’t say what it was, but he guaranteed us we’d all know it when we saw it. And ya’ know what, Luda – I’m still waiting. Did I miss it? Was I in the bathroom? It couldn’t have been MC Hammer, right?

The performances were so gawd-awful that even my favorite band, Coldplay, wasn’t immune to the horror show. Chris Martin sounded like he just polished off a pack of Newport Lights before he went on, and I couldn’t figure out why he was walking around aimlessly instead of sitting at the piano like usual. I mean, I know he likes to walk around aimlessly in all of his videos, but it doesn’t necessarily translate to a good live performance. Before the show, Fallout Boy gave what might have been THE single worst televised performance in the history of mankind. I say that without exaggeration, as anyone who saw it knows. And Kelly Clarkson?…whoa. What happened, Kelly? You won American Idol because you have a great voice, yet you decided that screaming incoherently at the top of your lungs while having water poured on you is really what the crowd wanted? There is no way that you didn’t do irreparable damage to your vocal chords after that. And I know my ears will never recover. I mean, does anyone SING anymore? I suppose Mariah Carey sounded okay, even though her “performance” consisted of her not moving whatsoever, mainly because she is not in the business of burning calories these days. Also, when Shakira came out to perform, my wife said, “Here comes the porn,” which was funnier than anything Dane Cook had to say during his lackluster stand-up routine. Well, at least R. Kelly was able to stand on stage and lip synch through the utterly unforgivable “Trapped in the Closet” for three hours. When is someone going to tell him that the entire free world considers that whole song a complete joke, and a general travesty within the realm of R&B? Really though - this is starting to bother me. Or am I the one whose out of the loop here?

Even the actual awards were horrible. “The Gorillaz” won “Breakthrough Video” for their animated “Feel Good Inc.,” which is pretty much the same exact video as their “Clint Eastwood” one from a few years back. How can a video be considered a “breakthrough” when the SAME band put out a similar video years back? How can a video be considered a breakthrough on a larger scale, when it’s not even a breakthrough for the band that made it? Is it because it’s animated? Wow…cartoons. Simply groundbreaking. Maybe we could give “A Charlie Brown Christmas” the award for “Breakthrough Holiday Movie.” And how the heck did 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop” get nominated for multiple awards?? It’s just him in a house full of scantily clad women! It’s like every other hip-hop video ever made, except there’s a house! I don’t get it.

By the way, was MTV “V-jay” John Norris REALLY wearing a purple t-shirt with no back? I don’t know who saw the pre-show, but there was one part where John Norris, while wearing a purple t-shirt with no back, was trying to convince Ricky Martin to come off the dock of his boat so he could “interview” him. I don’t even know what to say about that. Actually, I do. But I won’t. And another thing. Where do I register for “The Kurt Loder School of How to Conduct an Interview,” where I can learn to stutter, create awkward silence, interrupt my guests, appear generally confused, and ask questions like, “So…it says here you guys are The Killers?” Really, where? Ya’ know, if I’m ever 51 years old, and I find myself apologizing to Jay-Z because I called “Young Jeezy” just “Jeezy,” you can shoot me. Kurt, I think it’s time to hang it up. You’ve had a stellar career, and it’s time to collect your 401k. And if they ever create an award for “Best MTV V-Jay With the Personality of Drywall Who Stayed at the Network 20 Years Too Long,” you will win. Hands down.

And that is my synopsis of the 2005 VMAs. In short, hated it. But, at least I got my annual lesson in pop culture. Here it is. In: Big sunglasses. Out: Substance.


Amy D'Alonzo said…
I too watch these ridiculous award shows to try to stay up on pop culture... but after reading your bolg, I am deleting BOTH the awards and the pre-show from my tivo that I have yet to watch. Thanks for the warning.

And, by the way, I guess I really suck at being "hip" because I have no idea who Fallout Boy is.