Ah, the VMAs! Pop spectacle at its finest! If, by "finest," you mean "most spectacularly overhyped and therefore ripe for viewer disappointment." Which is what I mean, actually, so I'm good. And today, in my quest to provide you with the least timely post on the VMAs EVER, I present you with three defining moments. Which is most disappointing? That is for you (by which I mean "me," since I am writing this blog post) to decide!
#1. KANYE WEST IS YOUR DRUNK UNCLE
THE OFFENSE: So, Taylor Swift (who? Oh, she seems nice, I guess) won an award for Best Female Video. Beyonce was also nominated in that category! For "Single Ladies!" Say, I know who SHE is. So, Kanye West takes the mike from Taylor - sorry for the non-linking: I can't find a YouTube video of the incident that isn't somehow remixed to call him "gay" or to make jokes about how he is a scary black man - and makes the point that Beyonce made "one of the best videos of all time." And this, like a lot of the things that your drunk uncle says at Thanksgiving ("LINDA! ARE YOU STILL GETTING THE ABORTION?!") is both relatively true and very embarrassing for all involved. Beyonce has to make her "WHAT, who is this douche even TALKING ABOUT" face and give up her later acceptance speech (for Best Video) to Taylor, Taylor looks like she's going to cry a little, and Kanye gets booed out of the theater.
MITIGATING FACTORS: The winners in this scenario are, in order: Beyonce, who now looks like the nicest lady on the face of the planet in addition to being the prettiest and richest and most famous, Taylor Swift, who benefits both from public sympathy and from the fact that I now know who she is, and Kanye, who gets to be relevant for a few days without having to TYPE SO HARD HE BREAKS HIS MAC BOOK AIR. Granted, the two ladies won by playing the ever-frustrating Who Can Be The Most Demure and Self-Sacrificing and Non-Confrontational game. (Come ON, Taylor: you didn't even THINK about yelling at the dude? Not ONCE?) But they won it. Oh, and here's another potential winner: MTV, who might have staged the whole thing?
VERDICT: Not very disappointing. In fact, SO not disappointing that it comes around full circle and becomes disappointing again! Paradox!
#2. LADY GAGA REVEALS HER "MOVEMENT-INSPIRING" PERFORMANCE
THE OFFENSE: And it is... um, Phantom of the Opera, basically?
Consider: the half-mask! The chamber music! The ornate set decoration, the theatrical blood-spurting dance numbers, the howling of the word "NOOOOOO!" The DOWNED CHANDELIER IN THE FREAKING BACKGROUND, MY GOD. And I know, I know, she was performing "Paparazzi," the song about how fame is like violence in that it will cause you to spontaneously bleed from the ribcage after doing Tori Amos impressions, but still: Lady Gaga! I expect weirder things from you!
MITIGATING FACTORS: Okay, so she did it at the VMAs, site of 9 million reverential Michael Jackson tributes (he was a king! A king! And we ABANDONED HIM) which seemed to prove that we love our stars more after they die and we don't have to deal with that whole "recurring allegations of sexual assault" deal. Which was kind of fun. And I am continually pleased by the way Gaga toys with and subverts her own objectification, by presenting us with things that we should in theory find sexy (fishnets! Undies! And let us never forget the bare midriff) and then making it impossible for us to actually sexualize them (by, for example, spurting blood all over them).
VERDICT: Mildly disappointing. Take note, Lady Gaga: had you performed in that terrifying Hell-demon chess-piece ensemble you used to accept your award, you could have raised this to a solid score of Not Disappointing At All. This was a missed opportunity for all of us.
#3: RUSSELL BRAND CHARMS US ALL WITH HIS MISCHIEVOUS RAPE HUMOR
THE OFFENSE: Ah, Russell Brand! What a delightful rogue he is! What an irreverent cad! What a... oh, I give up. Here's a transcript of the joke he made about Megan Fox (via awesome lady for whom I have FULL DISCLOSURE guest-blogged, Melissa McEwan):
She has admitted she is a little bit cuckoo upstairs and I have trained in psychiatry. So Megan, if you do have a little dizzy spell, love, I could probably drop you a little pill. You can go and have a lie down in my dressing room. You might get some crazy dreams about being visited by a scarecrow, a perfumed weirdo leaning over you. But let me tell you, that's a common side-effect. Megan, take your medicine.
MITIGATING FACTORS: Well, she's attractive, you see, and so Russell Brand is implying that the natural result of this is that he will... um, well, the point is that she's admitted to possibly having a medical condition that may require medication, and so Brand is implying that he might take advantage of that to... okay, so the point is that a lot of people dislike her, and Brand is implying that he could punish her by... yeah, no, there are no mitigating factors. That shit is vile.
THE VERDICT: Yep! This is by far the most disappointing thing that happened at the VMAs. Also, the thing that is getting the least press coverage! Because seriously, who wants to talk about how jokes about raping (widely disliked and slut-shamed) women are still acceptable in our culture when you can talk about how that loud black man Kanye West was just so mean to that poor innocent blond virginal Taylor Swift? Because God knows that's not the narrative that can still get the most play and the easiest reaction or anything. It was atrocious! Awful! Unforgivable! Etc.