Lesson of the night: be humble. The 2017 MTV VMAs brought a hugely diverse music lineup. From hip-hop’s king to up-and-coming pop stars, the VMAs did not disappoint. They sure didn’t bore, either. Katy Perry hosted the 2017 MTV VMAs. Though her jokes were a little forced and her voice a little boisterous, Perry kept the audience in a lighthearted mood. This began with her literal Moon Person entrance. The VMAs are known for their “Moonman” awards trophies, now called “Moon Person” to promote gender fluidity and inclusion. This is just one of many ways that MTV continues to push forward with their liberal, open-minded agenda. This was prominent in Perry’s jokes and skits in addition to winners’ speeches throughout the three-hour show.
Highlights of the 2017 MTV VMAs:
Kendrick Lamar opened the show with his performance of “DNA.” and “HUMBLE.” It was lit. Literally lit. The stage included countless pyrotechnics including a dancer who actually danced while on fire. A laser cage opened his performance and complimented his red jumpsuit ensemble. However, the opening thirty seconds of Lamar’s set included one of his most political moments yet. His recording of FOX News anchor Geraldo Rivera critiquing Lamar’s 2017 BET Awards performance of “Alright” played over the speakers. It set the tone for the intense performance. Rivera commented on Lamar’s “anti-police” rhetoric to try to explain why hip-hop does more harm than racism. The statement itself sounds ludicrous, and Lamar’s usage of FOX News in DAMN. and during performances adds another level to his art.
Lamar took home the most prestigious award, Video of the Year, for “HUMBLE.” He also won Best Hip-Hop Video of the Year. “HUMBLE.” also won Best Cinematography, Best Direction, Best Art Direction, and Best Visual Effects. Casual. “Be humble.”
No surprise, but Taylor Swift was not at the awards show last night after dropping her single “Look What You Made Me Do” last Thursday. Swift and ZAYN won Best Collaboration for “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” featured in Fifty Shades Darker. However, the pop superstar wasn’t far away. She debuted her music video for “Look What You Made Me Do.”
Music Video Setting Switches
It begins with a zombie, Walking–Dead inspired scene, as zombie Swift breaks out of her grave where “Here Lies Taylor Swift’s Reputation,” a play off of her new album title Reputation. She then circles through a series on intense scenes. Swift lounges in a bathtub, covered in diamonds, and make a gun shape with her fingers before biting a diamond necklace. This switches to a red dress ensemble while Swift sits on her snake throne. Then, the scene switches to a car crash, as she cradles a Grammy award in her hands and adorns a leopard coat, sitting in her car. This contrasts to her car-crash scene where her gold sports car hits a pole and shows the paparazzi on her tail.
This switches to orange-clad Swift swinging in a bird cage. The scene switches again; Swift, in a cat mask, then robs a store and becomes a biker gang chick before changing to strutting with a baseball bat behind her head similar to Beyoncé’s “Hold Up” video. Swift then is the leader in a room full of plastic clones, a nod to her “Squad” critique that encourages girl-versus-girl. To finish off the chaotic middle of the video, a Beyoncé-circa-Super-Bowl-Halftime-Show scene erupts in a palace, as Swift stands with a handful of androgynous males in all-black outfits. If this sounds like a lot to take in, it is.
Versions of Swift
However, the most fascinating part about the video surfaces at the end. The video pans to a pile of Swift bodies, similar to the scene in Twilight‘s Breaking Dawn when Bella has a nightmare of her wedding day. However, the viewer quickly sees that the bodies are famous versions of “past Swifts.” Her outfits are different, popular music videos and points during her career. This includes her nerdy glasses in “You Belong with Me,” her glitter-crusted guitar from early touring days, her 2009 MTV VMAs dress when West bombarded the stage, her dress when on tour for Fearless. All of the Swifts line up next to her outfits from this photo shoot and they banter for the last thirty seconds of the video.
The last part might be the most fascinating, as the Swifts bring up the standard critiques that are heard in the media: victim role playing, her shocked expression, her crying, “I would very much like to be removed from this narrative” line posted after the Kimye drama, and more. It demonstrates her attempt to again re-brand herself as an vengeful, aggressive artist who demands to be taken seriously. It also shows her acknowledgement of the media’s popular critiques over the course of her career. Whatever Reputation has in store, it’s not covered in pink sparkles.
Pink resurfaced a few weeks prior with her single “What About Us” off of her upcoming album Beautiful Trauma. She also received the Video Vanguard Award, the 2017 MTV VMAs award given to someone who’s body of work and career has spanned a great deal of time and stands on its own. Pink’s speech, following a brilliant mixed rendition of 7-10 Pink classics from her song catalog, stole the show.
She told a story about how her daughter Willow, in the audience, said to her mother, “I’m the ugliest girl I know” because Willow looks “like a boy with long hair.” Pink proceeded to show her all of the epic androgynous rockstars who “live their truth.” This is important because Pink herself has been critiqued for her boyish looks over the years from her athletic, sturdy build to her short haircut.
Pink’s speech was received well by audience members and viewers alike. What our generation teaches the younger generation is pivotal especially due to the amount of violence and hate crimes in everyday life.
Though there were downsides to last night’s show, Pink is just one example of the tremendous talent that graced the stage for the 2017 MTV VMAs.