by Jac Kern
Jac's roundup of pop culture news and Internet findings
Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards melted the face off the Internet, so if
you’re still trying to form an opinion and sift through gif reactions, or you’re
one of those people pretending you don’t know what the VMAs are — the Moonman
has been around since 1983 and the VMAs have been pooping out
pseudo-controversy for just as long. You know what they are. Sit back down — don’t worry, momma’s here.
If you really don’t watch the VMAs, it’s important to understand that the V and A do not
matter — MTV rarely plays music videos, as we all know, and no one ever
remembers who actually wins the Mooman by the end of the night. The respected
academy of critics are teens who vote for whichever marginally talented star tweets
the most. You watch for the pop culture experience — whether it’s Fiona Apple’s
“bullshit” acceptance speech, the Britney-Madonna kiss or Beyonce’s baby bump
announcement, crazy shit goes down at the VMAs. And this year was no different.
The big draw of the night was Lady Gaga’s big comeback. It’s been two
years since a big performance and release, and Mama Monster also is back from a
hip injury that kept her out of the public eye for a bit. Gaga opened the show
with her new single, “Applause,” which was welcomed by audience boos (those
turned out to be staged. Gaga — go figure.). The performance looked like some
kind of jazzy, art school, off-broadway number, complete with dudes in leotards and onstage
weave and costume changes, ending in LG in a big ass brown curly wig, a mermaid
shell bra and thong. Her body was siiiiick
(eat it, haters) and it was nice to see her look/act like a human — this is not the
meat dress-wearing, alien goth princess, Jo Calderone Gaga. This is ARTPOP
Artists.MTV, Music, Lady
She seemed a little more down-to-earth, if that’s possible? Like she was
having fun, and not taking it too seriously. Which is good, because her new
song is in a fucking Kia commercial.
Next up is the kind of moment that makes careers
and ends presidencies. Just kidding. It’s just Miley! So I (like every human
with access to the Internet) detailed my roller coaster of emotions when I first
watched Miley Cyrus’ video “We Can’t Stop.” And I must say, I have no problem
with MiCy growing up and changing directions. Alternatively, I have no problem with her being a completely fake, manufactured product (cut to Lady Gaga —Government Name: Stefani Germanotta — looking like the normal girl she
actually was less than a decade ago, on an episode of Boiling
Points. Most pop stars were once Hannah Montanas before their producers gave them "molly"
and a rejected Rihanna beat, OK?). I have no qualms with her getting an fierce
haircut and wearing denim diaper shorts and
juxtaposing her former good girl image with her current hot lady looks. But there's a difference between shifting
from Country to Pop or Disney kid to edgy starlet and purposefully quashing
your saccharine image by motorboating a woman's thonged butt on TV just for the
shock factor. I see you Miley, and I will not respond to you.
One note I must make about the performance is Miley did share the
spotlight with the black chicks from her "We Can't Stop" video. (Side note: those giant bear
backpack apparatuses they’re wearing look really heavy!) Many critics of the
vid questioned why these “friends” only appeared in one scene of the video,
when she appears to be so immersed in black culture throughout (See: Conversation
on cultural appropriation
I’m not prepared to start here). Once Miley was done assaulting her backup
dancers, rubbing her fur-covered crotch and definitely not lip synching (for
better or worse), the two songs that had everyone clutching their pearls this
year came to an uncomfortable head as Robin Thicke made his way onstage.
Thicke’s video for “Blurred Lines” sparked up just as much controversy
as Miley’s in recent months. From scantily-clad models (plus a naked one in the
uncensored version) to lyrics like “I know you want it” — plus dumb hastags
all over the place — there were bound to be some haters. But, doesn’t that
description sound comparable if not tamer than nearly any popular music video
circulating right now? Now, I can understand the concern about the subject of
“blurred lines” when there is so much right-wing bullshit about rape culture
going on right now. But the video came out in March, and it wasn’t until
recently, once a few people started writing about their disapproval, that other
folks started recycling these opinions and making parody videos that completely
miss the point. Look, I’ve got a soft spot for Robin Thicke. He started off more
than a decade ago as an R&B singer — he’s got a smooth-as-a-baby’s-butt
voice so of course his songs are
going to be sexual and of course some of his videos are going to feature sexy
girls. He’s married to actress Paula Patton, whom he’s been with since he was
16. They have an adorable son named Julian Fuego. If anything, Miley would corrupt him!
So Miley rips off her PedoBear onesie to reveal the two-piece from the
“Blurred Lines” video and everyone realizes yes, she’s going there. The world
looked on in sheer terror as she twerked every which way upon Thicke, stroking
him and herself with a We’re No. 1 finger you see at hockey games. Miley’s butt
looked really scary and Robin looked like Beetlejuice.
Let’s all cleanse ourselves by looking back on Thicke’s earlier, hairier years.
One actual quality performance of the night came from Justin Timberlake.
Sure, he’s ubiquitous, but damn, the dude is talented. JT sang and danced his
way across every stage in the Barclays Center, never missing a beat or breath, touching on
hits from all throughout his career. Naturally, everyone was waiting for the
anticipated *NSYNC reunion, and every time a cluster of male back-up dancers
rushed onstage, I thought that was the moment. Finally, four shadowy figures
emerged from an illuminated stage, and Justin joined them in the center.
I hate to be a spoilsport, but, *NSYNC, you’re tearin’ up my heart. Nearly any
millennial Pop lover was either a Backstreet Boy or *NSYNC fan, and I was
more of an *NSYNC girl. Nevertheless, when I recently had the opportunity to
attend the BSB reunion concert of PNC Pavilion, you better believe I screamed
my lungs out with the rest of the crowds of pathetic women. I had to hand it to
the ‘Boys — they looked more attractive as 40-year-olds than they did 20 years
ago! They were in shape, still had their chops and were really good sports
about it. The concert really was a fun time. So when I saw an overweight,
wobbling Chris Kirkpatrick struggling to pull his jacket over his tummy, I
could not focus on anything else. A single tear ran down my cheek. And why the
hell, of all songs to play during this rare moment, would they sing
“Girlfriend?!” I still love you, *NSYNC, but reunion wasted, in my opinion.
VMA, Artists.MTV, Music, Justin
More stuff: This picture is NOT the Smith family reacting to that Miley mess I
just recounted. This is a still taken during Gaga’s performance and it’s not
even an accurate reaction, so stop sharing it, ya losers.
Drake, Bruno Mars, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Kanye also performed,
and no one is going to say anything about that. Drake reminds me of a dinosaur
and his song was really boring. Kanye performed in a shadow in front of a
screen cuz he’s a dad now and he can’t be bothered with camera close-ups, guys.
The camera cut away to reaction shots from Taylor Swift so often, she should be credited as a co-host. Good god.
Katy Perry’s new song "Roar" ended the night with a boxing-themed performance
by the Brooklyn Bridge, but it seems like everyone was too busy freaking out about
Miley to notice. It was pretty fun, but apparently it sounds a lot like Sara
VMA, Artists.MTV, Music, Katy Perry
news, even D-list celebs, Like Dharma & Greg’s Thomas Gibson can get
Breaking Bad’s Anna Gun (Skyler White) wrote a New York Times op-ed about how everybody
HATES her — or at least the character she plays — any how this widespread
abomination doesn’t seem to carry over to male characters on television.
"Beauty and the Beat?"
In his latest video, my newest hero Todrick Hall takes it to the next level and
tells the story of Cinderella using the music of Beyoncé. Rupaul’s Drag Race star Shangela plays the fairy god mother.