Monday, August 30, 2004

Moonman Overboard

The good old days

How are the MTV Video Music Awards different from The Grammys again? This year’s ceremony offered no shock and no awe and really, nothing worth watching. I guess after peaking last year, they just gave up on the whole starting the show off with a memorable stunt - I mean J. Lo? Usher taking his shirt off? Shaq? Are you kidding me? That’s like the Republicans kicking off their convention with the megawatt star-power of beloved Hollywood icon Ron Silver – wait, really? What, was Zeljko Ivanek busy? Does anybody outside of the Timecop fan club know who this guy is? And have the evangelists caught his morality play The Beneficiary on Skinemax?

Anyway, during Usher’s performance, I kept waiting for Michael Jackson to pop up from under the stage and school him (not that the VMAs playing the Jacko card would be all that revolutionary – see him kissing Lisa Marie or dancing with N’ Sync or accepting “The Artist of the Millennium Award” from Britney – but it would’ve been something).

The most exciting surprise was an ad proclaiming (or rather suggesting) that Eminem is dropping a new album in just two and a half months (though I haven’t found confirmation of this November 16 release date anywhere)!

The only other moment of joy came from seeing Marc Anthony do his intro from directly in front of P. Diddy (whoever staged that earns an honorary Official Pop Culture Petri Dish Gold Star), which came just a month after P.’s “it’s not awkward” encounter with Ben Affleck in Boston.

Speaking of Democrats, perhaps the most shocking water cooler moment/most shocking upset of the night was the rude reception given to the daughters Kerry. It was clear that they, like me, assumed the MTV audience would be in their camp, because when the boos started, one of them (not sure which) turned around to see if the Bush twins had just appeared on the screen behind them (they hadn’t). Maybe the MTV crowd was just pissed that Alexandra was wearing something opaque. Oh, and is it just me, or does one of the Bush twins (I think Barbara) look a lot like another famous twin?

Surprisingly, though several artists encouraged people to get out and vote, there was no overt partisanship aside from a small pin on one of the Beastie Boys.

After all the fuss about the Olympians ditching the Closing Ceremony to attend the VMAs, where was Paul Hamm? Were they afraid he might take somebody’s Moonman and refuse to give it back?

Overall, the performances mostly ranged from bad to worse. Artists I sort of like (Jet, Polyphonic Spree) played relatively bad sets, and “artists” I can’t stand (Hoobastank, Yellowcard) were even more ear-grating than usual. With so many off-key numbers (Simon Cowell would’ve had a field day), they should just go back to lip-synching.

Old-school meets new-school match-ups like Chaka Khan & Kanye West and Stevie Wonder & Alicia Keyes were good in theory, but under-whelming in execution. A better use of the latter pair would’ve been a tribute to Ray Charles, joined by some combination of Norah Jones, Billy Joel and Elton John. Maybe at The Grammys.

All in all, though, there was a definite lack of showmanship in the performances this year, with only Xtina & Nelly and Outkast attempting anything visually and phonically stimulating. Turning the place into a convention floor at the end was a pretty clever idea, though it would’ve been nice if they’d decided to actually show some of Andre 3000 or his backup dancers during it. Hey, it’s probably the last time we’ll ever see “Hey Ya!” played at an awards show.

Speaking of last times, this is probably the last time anyone (besides The Latin Grammys) holds an awards show outside New York or L.A. The star wattage was pretty low. Even nominees and media-whores Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Eminem couldn’t be bothered to make the trip down to Miami. What a lifeless disappointment.

I’ll leave you with this final thought: Is Bruce Willis the new Farnsworth Bentley?


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