Opinion: The problem with the VMAs

Matt Poe is a junior journalism major and columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]

Matthew Poe

Vote Kanye West in 2020, folks.

The 2015 MTV Video Music Awards produced an assortment of drama and crazy moments including Nicki Minaj with some less-than kind words for host Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber crying on stage and the aforementioned West declaring he will bid for the White House four years from now.

In recent years, the MTV Video Music Awards have become one of the most talked – about events of the year. From Kanye West sabotaging Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech in 2009, to Cyrus and Robin Thicke grinding like a pair of adolescents at a high school dance, the annual awards show has become notorious for outlandish moments that have millennials tweeting by the second. The onstage behavior has gotten so outrageous that the music and award winners have become second tier. And MTV, so it seems, wouldn’t have it any other way.

The reason? Audiences and viewers can’t get enough of it. Entertainment Weekly reported that Sunday’s telecast produced 9.8 million viewers. Although this number was down almost five percent from the previous year, the VMAs were the most-tweeted program of the year aside from the Super Bowl: A whopping 21.4 million tweets, according to MTV, a trend that in all likelihood will rise as the show’s WTF moments continue to increase.

The VMAs is less about honoring the best music and music videos of the year and more about, “Did I just see that?” MTV is choosing to produce a show to get the masses talking about these outrageous moments rather than the actual music performed by the artists.

I understand the VMAs should not be taken seriously, nor should any awards show for that matter. The goal of the VMAs is meant to entertain audiences and, MTV appears to be succeeding in that area. However, the problem is the show isn’t about celebrating artists who have a tremendous influence, good and bad, on the millennial generation.

Instead, the message MTV is sending is that it is better for an artist to hop on stage and cause a scene (here’s looking at you, Mr. West,) or Cyrus’ more- than-likely-staged nip-slip, as opposed to letting the art and music speak for itself.

Not only do the VMAs speak volumes about the current stage of MTV and its transition from music television to primarily reality-based series, it speaks about us as an audience in 2015. Many viewers tuned into the VMAs not to see which who would take home the awards, but to see who could one-up each other in the wackiness department and get the most movement on social media.

It also says a lot about the current state of mainstream music in that some of these artists will do just about anything to keep us talking, clicking, posting and tweeting about their onstage behavior.

We may see a time when the VMAs return to being about the music and music videos these artists create, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. For now, let’s just ponder what a 2020 presidential debate between Donald Trump and Kanye West would look like. Now that would be fun, not to mention quite scary.

Matthew Poe is a junior journalist major and columnist at the The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]