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The VMAs Hit Different This Year

The MTV VMAs took place Sunday night, but the annual awards show wasn’t quite the same this year. Usually, the VMAs are a fun and lively awards show meant to honor the best music videos in the industry. It’s considerably more laid back than other mainstream Hollywood awards shows, and it’s known for wild fashions and outrageous performances.

This year, however, the VMAs didn’t quite manage to hit that note. Leading up to the event, there were questions about how it would be possible, given the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the summer, many such Hollywood events have taken place over Zoom or canceled entirely. MTV however, decided to do a socially distanced live-ish show in New York City.

The Pandemic

The advantage of a “live” awards show is the red carpet, and getting to see the musicians putting on a real performance. However, even the red carpet lacked its usual energy this year. It’s hard to care about Miley Cyrus’ see-through Mugler get up or Machine Gun Kelly’s head to toe hot pink ensemble in an election year, in the midst of a pandemic, while people are out in the streets protesting police brutality.

The exception to that, of course, was Lady Gaga, who wore an array of different out-of-this-world outfits with co-ordinated masks. She brought awards show energy to the whole thing while acknowledging the truth of the times. It was enough to rescue the event, almost.

While some artists chose to walk the carpet and attend the event, others understandably chose to participate remotely. Taylor Swift accepted her award remotely, and BTS performed a prerecorded segment so they could also participate from afar. It was completely necessary, but a little strange to say the least.

Everything Else Going Wrong

The usual glamour of the night was not just overshadowed by the pandemic. Other serious trials and tribulations facing Americans got in the way of the awards show fun. After a summer of protests, there is renewed anger and revitalized protests after police allegedly shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back. Blake was unarmed, and Black.

2020 is also an election year, an election year that is fraught with contention and problems. The current sitting president is engaged in an unprecedented battle with the USPS in an effort to crack-down on mail-in voter fraud. The result is that many American voters are worried about whether they will be able to safely vote and have their votes counted in the upcoming election.

Not to mention the fact that California is on fire, millions are unemployed, and uncertainty abounds for Americans everywhere. It’s a lot of tragedy for people to process, and it makes it incredibly difficult to fully enjoy a glamorous event where Hollywood’s elite congratulate each other on expensive music videos.

In this difficult time, awards shows simply don’t provide the same entertainment that they used to. In order to maintain relevance in these trying times, awards shows must adapt to connect with common American and what’s really going on in the world.

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