Pop Culture Shock: VMAs in a nutshell

MOVE columnist McKenna Bulkley on the VMA performances.

By McKenna Bulkley | Sept. 2, 2014

Tags: celebrities Music


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Let’s talk about the VMAs.

This year, I actually think they went pretty well, or at the very least exactly how we all expected them to. Taylor Swift awkwardly danced to all the performances with her bestie Lorde, people won awards for stuff and the Kardashians were glued to their cell phones.

Actually, I think the VMAs were pretty great for once. At least better than last year’s show. The performances were all A-plus (except for Usher’s, but let’s not go there) and I wasn’t outraged about anything. Sure, there were a few fashion mishaps such as Swift’s weird jumpsuit/romper thing and Nicki Minaj having to hold her dress together onstage, as well as some awkward moments, such as any time Jay Pharaoh was on stage doing those dumb impressions that were supposed to be funny but really weren’t. Overall, however, it was a pretty good lineup, and I don’t feel like anyone was robbed or anything like that. I wish they had actually shown more people actually winning awards, instead of only presenting seven of the 18 awards given, but that is basically my only real complaint. So good on ya, MTV. You guys actually didn’t suck this time.

But I do have a question, dear MOVE readers and MTV viewers: Why was the entire world so fired up about Miley Cyrus’ twerktastophy last year, while I have heard almost nothing about Nicki Minaj’s Anacondon’t. Both were wildly explicit on a show that was rated for teens as young as 14 and were viewed by millions. Now neither of these performances are something I enjoy watching, but I definitely still think these women should be able to do whatever kind of performance they want without being called skanks or sluts or bad feminists like they called Miley last year, because saying those things just isn’t right. But it doesn’t seem to me like that happened nearly as much to Minaj.

I want to know why we considered one of these performances okay and the other one a nationwide scandal. I’m honestly just curious. Why is it that when Miley danced against Robin Thicke (who is a topic for a whole other day), the world was outraged? People still talk about it. It was that big of a deal. But when Minaj pantomimes having sex on stage in addition to twerking and generally has a performance just as bad as (if not worse than) Miley’s, none of us care? Is it because we expect it from Nicki Minaj? Or because we will forever see Miley Cyrus as the pre-teen Hannah Montana we knew and loved? Why is it last year people threw fits about Miley’s twerking performance but few have said a word about Minaj pretending to have sex on stage with another woman? I’m not saying we should be freaking out, because both artists were just being provocative and comfortable with their sexuality and their bodies, and that’s great for them. If that’s the image you want to portray to your fans, far be it for me to tell an artist what she should and shouldn’t do. I’m only saying that I would like to know why one of these performances merited such a dramatic response while the other one floated by without conflict.

But in the end, I guess it doesn’t matter what anyone thought of the earlier performances on the awards show, because we all know it would have been quickly overshadowed by what was really important: our Queen Bey. At this point I feel like we should just admit that the VMAs were nothing more than a two-hour opening act for the nearly 20-minute Beyoncé concert we were all waiting for. Between her feminist stance and the all-around cuteness that is Blue Ivy and that entire family, we all know the other two hours of the VMAs were just filler before Beyoncé went on.

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