For some reason, I’ve always looked forward to award shows. I’m not sure if its the build up to it, or the anticipation of what everyone will be wearing, or doing. Or if I just like to hear and see the performances at the shows. Monday night’s VMA’s, however, were predominantly lacking. Mostly in star power. And that’s what these shows are all about. That’s not to say that there weren’t some big names, but there were a lot of big names who weren’t there. Like Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Kanye West, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Adele, Justin Bieber, or Ed Sheeran. Which made this year’s VMA’s feel lacking in some ways.
For the record, I am actually a millennial. I am on the older end of the spectrum, but I’m still a millennial. And let me tell you, these VMAs attempted to cater to Generation Z big time. But they couldn’t quite hit the mark. Maybe that’s ok. Maybe it’s time to usher in a new way of presenting these awards. After all, a lot of the younger generation doesn’t even watch TV anymore, so something has to change. But were they able to achieve that in this year’s show? I think the answer to that is no. This year’s Video Vanguard Award went to Jennifer Lopez. Now, I’m a fan of Lopez and have been for years. But her performance was geared towards my generation and not MTV’s target audience.
The show seemed to be missing what historically made it the show that we’ve loved for so long. Nicki Minaj was one example of a major current star who was in attendance. But her performance was 1) done off-site and 2) seemed to be pre-taped. Which didn’t give you the vibe that you were at an awards show. I mean, you could have watched that in your living room. Not only that, but Minaj basically said that the VMAs are antiquated and the way to deliver music is direct to fans in different kind of channels. She went on to tell the audience to listen to her Apple Music radio show, where they would find out who she was beefing with now. Minaj also dropped a random homophobic slur, which kind of paints this picture for you, I think.
In the past, the VMAs came at a time in the season when things were changing. It was when MTV’s target audience started to go back to school. But it’s not that anymore. Just five years ago—at a VMAs headlined by Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Drake, and Justin Timberlake, at which Miley Cyrus stole the show—Rihanna showed up just to watch. This year, the ceremony was padded out with worthy but confusing performances by emerging artists that might have been better served elsewhere on MTV’s air. Maybe it’s us that’s changing? Maybe I have fond memories of the VMAs and I just didn’t feel like this year’s performance measured up?
The way that we consume media and entertainment is changing. It has to change. Awards shows like the VMAs (and others) need to be able to adapt in the same way. I’m not saying that all they need to do is cater to a younger audience. They need to come up with something that demonstrates their ability to adapt. Generation Z will likely tune into Minaj’s online radio show or Drake’s Instagram feed to get all the music that they need from their favorite performers. Are the VMA’s even necessary any more?