Reality Bites: 2013 MTV Video Music Awards
My generation -- "Generation X" -- has a lot to answer for: "Urkel," grunge, the Macarena. However, our most egregious offense might be constantly bitching about the state of MTV.
"Remember when MTV was good?" is the perpetual complaint. "Good" is subjective for everyone, of course, but what persons of my age cohort are inevitably referring to is the presence of actual music on Music Television. Historians will argue whether video blocks consisting largely of Triumph, April Wine, and Steel Breeze were empirically better than a season 2 Teen Mom marathon, but the definition of quality seems to come down to what mindless electronic droning we prefer while we zone out on the couch for six hours.
Anyway, the Video Music Awards (or "VMAs") have been around since 1984 (sorry again). That first broadcast featured a garter-clad Madonna generating controversy by writhing on the floor to "Like a Virgin." Judging by reaction to last Sunday's broadcast, not much has changed. Our national pastime isn't baseball, it's freaking out.
To start with, I realize writing about the VMAs after two days of outrage and faux sociological discussion kind of makes this The Newsroom of TV blogs. What can I say, Reality Bites is a Wednesday thing, and even if it wasn't, I didn't watch the show until Monday night, because not even the promise of Lady Gaga in a clamshell bikini can tear me away from Breaking Bad.
Speaking of Gaga, it was funny how every element of her opening song ("Applause") - from the scantily clad aspect (not to get all 'get off my lawn' on you, but didn't they use to cut away from bare butts on MTV?) to the wardrobe changes to the Dieter from Sprockets back-up dancers - was structured like a closing number. Three years ago, they would've rolled the credits right after. Overexposure is a bitch.
By the way, that much seen Will Smith family pic was actually a reaction to Gaga, not Miley Cyrus, as was initially reported:
Either way, who brings a 12-year old to the VMAs?
If I must address the Miley Cyrus thing (which is apparently the case), I'll just say the most embarrassing thing about it wasn't the dry humping of, well, everything or the unfortunate sizing of her costume or even the ubiquitous tongue. That's all part of a sexual continuum that extends tumescently from Madonna's aforementioned floor show to Diana Ross batting Lil' Kim's boob to "Slave 4 U" and will probably end with Swift and Harry Styles resolving their differences by -- I don't know -- reenacting the "Sex Education" skit from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. It's what MTV does, and Cyrus is far from the first young woman to shed her squeaky clean tween image for something raunchier (Britney and "Xtina" were noticeably absent last Sunday night).
No, the worst part was Cyrus' continuing, desperate attempt to distance herself from her Disney past by hilariously swinging as far to opposite end of the entertainment spectrum as possible. I don't get paid enough to get into the socio-economic implications of Cyrus adopting so-called "ratchet" culture, but I will say it was so embarrassing I half assumed she was going for parody (see also Macklemore). Yet all anyone concentrates on is the sex, or at least the female sex, because heaven forfend she put on skimpy underwear while a paunchy Robin Thicke surrounds himself with significantly more attractive women and sings about how he knew they wanted it.
On a side note, Lil' Kim has seen better days.