The Collapse of the VMAs

Posted August 26, 2013 by J Matthew Cobb in News

“We can’t stop” complaining about how torturous this year’s MTV VMAs was

Going into this past Sunday’s festivities, many may have predicted that Lady Gaga‘s highly-anticipated opener of her new(er) song “Applause” would have been the paramount talking point of the show. She’s done outrageous, controversial, explicit, and over-and-beyond in creativity. So it’s not all that surprising to know that Gaga’s performance appeared “normal” to the average eye during this year’s MTV Video Music Awards. Sure, she went through a medley of rapid-fast wardrobe changes, going from a white, square-headed Gumby to a ballet dancer, from a return to her Gwen Stefani-esque white wig days to a half-naked walking mermaid. For a song that sounds like a mixbag of New Wave on “She Blinded Me With Science” and everything bouncy about Gaga’s early dance tracks, Gaga only helped viewers to like the song a little bit better – especially if they didn’t care for it on first listen. It’s not the best thing to come out of her purse, but it will manage in the meantime.

Of course if you didn’t get the memo, these award shows are all about the performance and the “applause” that comes from viewers. Because we are in a tech-y new-age dominated by social media overload, the show is actually one-half of the experience. If you’re experiencing the behemoth of Twitter or Facebook during these kinds of presentations, you’re prone to believe the other half of the experience is there. This year’s VMAs only proved that calculation to be self-evident.

There were a few highlights in the evening. Gen X’ers went bonkers with Justin Timberlake reunited with N*SYNC members for a piece of “Bye, Bye, Bye” (and then it was ‘goodbye’ for them as JT finished up his MJ Vanguard award routine without them. Bruno Mars acted like a miniature King Kong on stage with his sexually-explosive, gospel-powered anthem “Gorilla.” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis brought their gay-friendly, gay rights anthem “Same Love” to the stage, alongside openly gay and underrated vocalist Mary Lambert. That performance was even crowed with a moving cameo by Jennifer Hudson. Last but not least, Kanye West‘s “Blood on the Leaves” helped put the rapper back on his “throne.” Fans enjoyed those moments, and may have been the lifeline to an award show more known for its controversy than it is for the merit of the awards itself. But then, from out of nowhere, this came our way:












Like a very bad case of Shredder apocalypse drenched in Ninja Turtle mutagen, Miley Cyrus (the former Hannah Montana) pops out on stage, acting like a freak-a-zoid exposing the evils of gentrification. “Twerk it out” can be heard from the speakers, as she puts on her best “trailer-park” happy face. Sure, the giant-sized teddy bears on stage was meant to be the warm and fuzzy part of her six-minute show, and may have been the last time she entertained the innocence of her Disney glory days. But everything else, including the shaky vocals, was off-centered and borderline crass. MTV even bleeped her “Molly” references, which really put the bulls-eye on a sagging musical career outside of Hannah Montana, despite the popularity of “We Can’t Stop.”

But Cyrus’ performance kept going further and further  into the pit of despair with no return in sight. Even Robin Thicke couldn’t redeem her, as he used her as a twerking guinea pig on “Blurred Lines/Give It 2 U.”











Even all the controversy surrounding Thicke’s legal battles with Marvin Gaye’s estate over the authenticity of his song seemed like a slice of heaven when compared to the madness of this performance.

I guess in Miley Cyrus’s case, this girl still cannot be tamed. Ole Billy Ray would probably agree.

Not only was the reaction on Twitter unanimous about their disgust over Cyrus’s fiasco, but even those in attendance echoed those sentiments.












But the screenshot posterchild of this year’s VMAs actually goes to Will Smith and his fam. Although it was taken during Gaga’s performance, the snapshot seen all over the world summed up in a nutshell just how millions of viewers felt when they saw their TV’s being reduced to shit.











All the outrage makes perfect sense when you realize that MTV – which once stood for Music Television – put the final nail in the coffin by giving the award for Song of the Summer, not to Daft Punk for “Get Lucky” or Robin Thicke for “Blurred Lines,” but to One Direction for “Best Song Ever.” This ultimately made this four-hour Armageddon one of the worst collapses in VMA history.

Critics across the board destroyed the award show hours after it aired. The New York Times said that there was “a lot to look away from,” going so far to say that it was a “minstrel show routine.” (I’d go so far to say that it felt like a  The National Post derailed the performance, by stating that Cyrus made Gaga “look tame(d) in racy performance.” The Boston Globe reported on the story by saying that “the VMAs failed to impress viewers.” Rolling Stone jumped on the laughs, by posting a barrage of tweets to sum up some of their anguish. “Dear Miley Cyrus, Please stop ruining teddy bears. #VMA2013#mileycyrus,” read one of the tweets from Kathryn Wolk. “I know I’m late to the VMA party, but Miley Cyrus has become borderline Amanda Bynes,” another post stated. Then one person tweeted, “After watching Miley Cyrus’ performance I think I need to go to church.”

Self-made grids only escalated the hilarity of the situation, like this popular one from O Hell Nawl Blog’s Facebook page.















Celebs even jumped in on Cyrus’s bizarre performance. “Remind me to never let my kids into showbiz… Thanks,” Nick Cannon tweeted. Brooke Shields, who played Miley’s TV mother in Hannah Montana, branded the singer’s provocative performance as being ‘desperate’. “I was Hannah Montana’s mother!’ she told the cast of NBC’s Today Monday morning, adding with mock shock: ‘Where did I go wrong?’

The ratings for this year’s VMAs might be the only thing that matters to executives and may be in good standing with advertisers this year, but there’s no guarantee if those numbers will remain next year. Anyone with a good memory bank who retained much of what happened this year will wish they never experienced this kind of TV torture again.



About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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