Alex Spindler ~Arts & Entertainment Editor~
MTV hosted its annual Video Music Awards (VMAs) ceremony this past Sunday to record-breaking ratings. Various reports conclude that almost 22 million people watched the ceremony, and the broadcast prompted almost 8,000 tweets per minute. However, beneath the flash and glamour of the Moonman trophies, controversy ensued.
This follows last year’s infamous showcase where Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke’s racy “twerking” sent tabloid newspapers over the edge. The usual drama and cat fights among the music industry divas such as Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj were enough to mollify the average watcher. Immature comments and inappropriate behavior sparked mudslinging and distasteful acceptance speeches throughout the three-hour show.
Many call into question the validity and quality of such awards programs, especially on the heels of one of the “Big Four” entertainment spectacles of the fall, the Emmy awards, which premiered on Monday. Producers, though pleased with the publicity that comes from such shows, worry that these appearances tarnish the reputation of the artists whom they represent.
With regards to the performances, the pressures of live singing and dancing only emphasized the limits of many performers. Taylor Swift’s vocal cracks and awkward stage presence sent social media into a frenzy. Ariana Grande’s four-octave vocal range was overshadowed by misguided technical issues and Iggy Azalea’s commanding raps.
Though, a medley from R&B superstar Beyoncé received the
highest marks when she performed for nearly 20 minutes towards the end of the show. Reeling from success with her eponymous album, “Beyoncé,” she is predicted to sweep the Grammy awards.
Ultimately, Miley Cyrus took home the top prize, Video of the Year, for her controversial video
for “Wrecking Ball.” Instead of accepting the award, Miley Cyrus sent up a homeless youth named Jesse who spoke for the need for greater care for those experiencing homelessness. Yet, the most highly-fueled controversy came when a tribute to recently-murdered Michael Brown aired midway in the show. Scenes from the Ferguson, Mo., riots and messages of inspiration and condolence incited both nervous applause and uncomfortable silence.
Viewers and television executives question the motive behind embedding social conflict into an entertaining awards show. Controversy aside, the VMAs bring in new viewers and money to MTV.
This challenge of commerce versus art will plague the awards channel so long as the music industry promotes it.