Last Thursday, MTV continued its rapid descent into the land of self-parody as it put on what could well be the network’s most pathetic Video Music Awards yet.
Unashamedly sucked into the boy band/girl group phenomenon that is literally months away from meeting a certain death (it has to end at some point, right?), viewers were treated to nothing extraordinary.
Three of these hit of the moment pubescent influencing acts came out and did a medley of their top hits, not because they couldn’t decide which of their songs to play, rather, they needed to distract the audience of their lip-syncing charade.
The fact that the sound was horrible can’t be blamed on the lack of talent in the aforementioned acts, it is a distinct quality of the VMAs. Focused on music, you’d think that they would’ve figured out how to make a smooth transition form Janet Jackson to Rage Against the Machine. Instead, both artists came off sounding like garbage, playing what are otherwise fairly decent songs.
Hosts Marlon and Damon Wayans didn’t fare much better either – and they sounded fine.
Making poor attempts at humor, joking about the Source Awards and the Firestone tire recall in their monologue, created an uneasy, unfunny restlessness in the audience from the beginning for the brothers.
Like many, many hosts before them, the Wayans boys didn’t come close to the hilarity that has dominated their more structured and obviously better though out endeavors in the past.
Mismatched presenters had to deal with the usual teleprompter induced failure to create slapstick between them. At one point, Robert DeNiro looked as if he was going to storm off to give the producer of the show a beat down for having him say the word “Californication” to a national audience.
The VMAs as a whole have become one long night of squirming in your seat wondering “Who’s going to come off looking like a fool next?”
It was only fitting that the night’s highlight came when Tim Commerford, bassist for Rage Against the Machine, decided to climb the tall structure behind the acceptance podium as Limp Bizkit was attempting to deliver a thank you speech for their “Best Rock Video” award. Like a cat in a tree, Commerford wouldn’t come down, despite pleas to coax him down from security, stagehands and producers for more than 15 minutes.
There hadn’t been a moment like that since the 1996 VMAs when a quasi-reunited Van Halen showed up as presenters with loose cannon David Lee Roth, who ignored the teleprompter and delivered a speech of his own.
Maybe that’s what MTV needs, more spontaneity, because the tight ship that they’re trying to run is springing too many leaks. The VMAs have clearly become the worst show on not only the network, but as far as top awards show stands, they don’t even make the list.
This used to be the cutting edge network that was on top of all the latest in pop culture. Now, it has degenerated into a shell of its former self, with only some 20% of daily programming music videos. Chances are, they’re the same 10 videos that show up on the TRL countdown, and the same groups that will be a distant memory in the not so distant future. If MTV doesn’t wake up soon, it may meet the same fate.