Film & TV

MTV's 2014 Video Music Awards: In Need of Much Improvement

Each year around this time, I sit down with my phone in hand and wait for the MTV Video Music Awards to improve. It's a fruitless exercise. I realize that now. But there's an '80s child inside me who still believes in Music Television as the finest marriage of mediums. That '80s child must die before the 2015 VMAs.

Last night, the show started with the ever-unintelligible Boca native Ariana Grande. I like to think of her as the Pootie Tang of pop music. What in hell is this chick saying ever? Her wails certainly undulate with impressive range, but articulating words seems to be somewhat of a challenge for her.

Grande was followed by Nicki Minaj with her big booty "Anaconda" bit. My big question is: Is everyone taking those cheeks seriously? Or are they in on the joke? She was not born with that butt, but everyone's playing like it's natural and not science.

It was comedic when she crashed Usher's set to simply bump him with her ample derriere -- no hating there. The look of amusement on his face was priceless. The best thing Minaj has going for her is her goofiness. It makes her crotch-grabbing and floor-humping less icky, more funny. And then there was some skinny lady, Jessie J, rounding out their "girl power" intro.

The fashions displayed made for a horrendous freak show. Austin Mahone was wearing something that looked like Helmut Lang and R Kelly collaborated with zippers. And though Katy Perry and Riff Raff did tell Sway on the Red Carpet that their Canadian suit ensembles were a throwback to when Britney and Justin first failed at this look, it was still beyond a problem for my eyes. And I thought she was seeing Diplo? What's happening in the world that these two are dating? At least they both have the same sense of fashion. Taylor Swift also forgot her pants at home. The '90s are back, she was a baby in the '90s, but wearing a onesie at 24 is just creepy.

Snoop Dogg and a well-preserved Gwen Stefani verbally set the tone of the evening: "This year, the ladies are taking over." And yeah, yeah. There were lots of women, and they all seemed to be getting along, which is awesome, except, of course, for our darling Miley. Lorde and Taylor Swift may have been cuddling up in the front row, but when Swift took the stage, Miley threw some revenge shade that stole the spotlight. God bless her.

I don't hate the idea of different comics going up there to lighten the awkward mood. I enjoyed Jay Pharaoh's impression of Kanye only when he made the joke that West's "videos cure ALS." I didn't like when he made fun of Kim Kardashian, who was in the audience, because they kept panning to see her reaction, and that made me uncomfortable.

The ever-classy Common did an important and relevant speech in honor of the atrocities in Ferguson. "Each and every one of our lives matter," he said. "Hip-hop has always been about truth." Calling the genre "a voice for the revolution," he then he asked for a moment of silence for Mike Brown and peace. This was probably the best moment of the night.

The other heartwarming moment was when Miley won best video of the year and she sent her homeless pal up to nervously accept an award as Jimmy Fallon held the mic. That poor kid. Dude, he looked like he was about to hurl on Jimmy's paw. But he made it through as Miley clutched herself with pride and joy. It was nice enough.

They spent about three seconds commemorating Robin Williams by showing about five stock photos of the late actor onscreen right before talking for 30 seconds about "hair perfection." The show was one ad after the next. Lord have mercy, it's exhausting. And so many antismoking commercials that it made me want to suck down a Marlboro factory out of spite. STFU, people. At least the ads were just whining and threatening and didn't show people's limbs falling off.

Finally, Beyoncé, in her normal robotic and perfect way, performed for about a century. Dear media, please stop trying to make us all love her. It's like, enough already. She's got a great voice, her songs are instant classics, but don't make us sit through 30 minutes of watching Bey pose "sensually" with not a hit of inner hotness exuding from her open legs. I'm impressed that she's helping to remove the stigma from the word "feminist," but I think we can all agree, she's no Gloria Steinem.

And then, of course, Jay Z and Blue Ivy came to the stage, and that was cute, and they smooched, 'cause we all know they're getting divorced and they don't want us to know yet. And Beyoncé showed a modicum of humanity by almost shedding a tear.

I'm a sucker, and I'll be sitting by the TV next year. But at that time, I truly hope either pop music improves or they invite an act that's fun, a little rough, and worth watching so that I can give my rolling eyes a break.

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Liz has her master’s degree in religion from Florida State University. She has since written for publications and outlets such as Miami New Times, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Ocean Drive, the Huffington Post, NBC Miami, Time Out Miami, Insomniac, the Daily Dot, and the Atlantic. Liz spent three years as New Times Broward-Palm Beach’s music editor, was the weekend news editor at Inverse, and is currently the managing editor at Tom Tom Magazine.
Contact: Liz Tracy