Article by: Daniel Jachim
Video by: Arianna Cu, Sophie Jimenez, and Myles Rublee
Tears were shed and awards were given as MTV, in its usual flamboyancy, concluded its VMA (Video Music Awards) on August 30th. After all, this is the music industry which is valued at over $130 billion dollars worldwide (IFPI). In fact, were it a country, it would be the 59th richest in the world, nudged between Hungary and Ukraine (Wikipedia).
Perhaps the most interesting affair of the night was a rather bold declaration from Kanye West. Soon after winning the Michael Jackson Music Video Vanguard Award, and the Best Video with Social Message for his song, “One Man Can Change the World” – the result of a collaboration with Big Sean and John Legend- West announced that he would be running for president in 2020. Perhaps given the recent success of Donald Trump, Kanye believed his celebrity would help carry him to victory. However, despite some approval by the Democratic Party (The Democrats, Twitter), there is some concern. An ISM senior, who wished to remain unnamed, speculated with fear that the US might become like many developing countries, with incompetent celebrities assuming political power on the back of their fame, and then ultimately doing nothing. Fortunately or unfortunately, it seems West was joking.
Another exciting event was the American Alt-Rock band OK Go winning the Best Choreography award. Famed for their elaborate music videos, often filmed in one shot, it was no surprise when their latest song, “I Won’t let you Down,” won the award. The video was filmed entirely by a drone mounted camera, and given the fact that the artists performed entirely on electronically controlled unicycles, weaving between hundreds of umbrella clad dancers, winning this award was almost expected.
However, neither Kanye West’s declaration nor OK Go’s intricate video was the most talked about event of the night. This year, the scandal that lit up media outlets was the feud between Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus. In July when the nominations were revealed, Minaj tweeted her discontent about not being nominated for Video of the Year speculating it was because she was not white. Cyrus responded in an interview with the New York Times that she doesn’t “respect [Minaj’s] statement because of the anger that came with it.” The conflict came to its climax during the night as Minaj stated after her acceptance speech, “And now back to this [expletive] that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press – Miley, what’s good?” In the end, Cyrus tried to make nice by vaguely referring to how interviewers manipulate things, but the tension is still palpable, and it is unclear if and how this feud will be resolved. (The Atlantic)
The MTV Video Music Awards are always filled with controversy, but the true spirit of the night is a celebration of pop culture and music as the biggest stars of the generation come together and acknowledge their talents and achievements.