The 2006 Video Music Yawnfest
I do not know how to sit down and write this without sounding like a grumpy 80-year-old woman who hasn’t done any cuddling in the last twenty years, so I’ll just go ahead and get it out of the way: MTV is total crap. I’m well aware that I do not fit its target demographic — teen, can text message with one hand while the other hand enters Google searches for plagiarized term papers, wears underwear with “FEISTY” silk-screened across the crotch — but just because I’m not the one it is catering to doesn’t mean that I am not capable of appreciating it. I want to love it because it raised me like a doting adoptive parent, but now it is an old and distant convalescent relative who smells like his own urine and walks around with his hairy, pocked buttocks hanging out the back of his hospital gown.
I knew that I was going to write about the most recent Video Music Awards, and that is the only reason I sat through those awful three hours without shooting the television. I will never be able to get those three hours back, three hours I could have better spent drooling into a cup. I took notes throughout the show so that I could go back afterward and figure out which parts to highlight, but even my notes bored me. A more irrelevant show does not exist, and if given the choice in the future I would rather sit through a three-hour video of Angela Lansbury plucking her underarm hair.
Why am I so surly about this? I’ve been trying to figure this out, and I think it goes directly to the fact that as I have gotten older I haven’t stopped buying new music. I regularly give money to the music industry, and none of my purchases are influenced by MTV. And I don’t think I’m alone. Nothing illustrates this disconnect so brilliantly than the fact that the highlight of the VMA’s was OK Go’s flawless performance of their “Here It Goes Again” treadmill dance made famous on the Internet, not by MTV. By the last tally on the video’s YouTube page, it has been viewed over five and a half MILLION times. That’s almost more than the number of people who tuned in to watch the VMA’s on television. It’s clear in this equation that MTV needed OK Go more than OK Go needed MTV.
There are a countless number of reasons the VMA’s fell flat on its face, and if someone who has been living under a rock for the last 25 years suddenly emerged and was forced to watch it they would probably guess that it was produced by a high school theater class. There was no podium to ground the presenters and winners, and every transition between award and musical number seemed confused and hurried, as if everyone was feeling their way around in the dark. Host Jack Black couldn’t pull a laugh from the audience the whole night, and I felt embarrassed for him like I would if my nephew were singing at a talent show and the entire front row were plugging their ears. None of the musical numbers had any memorable qualities, nothing that I will remember even a month from now, nothing like Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” stage crawl that I can describe in detail from having watched it 22 years ago.
There is only one significant thing that I took away from the show, and that is how profoundly scared I am of the dramatic and tragic turn fashion has suddenly taken. From Kanye West’s white tapered pants to Paris Hilton’s black Grandpa ankle boots, fashion is trying to pull the 80’s out of its very deep grave. I’d recently been to a local clothing store and noticed the skinny pants and leggings and cropped fishnet sweaters, and I had chosen not to believe that it was happening. But you can’t ignore it when it is trotted out on a New York stage and flaunted as if it were perfectly okay (it isn’t! it isn’t okay!). What’s so sad is that MTV couldn’t instead bring back the spark and relevance that it had during that decade, that period of my life when I couldn’t change the channel because I always wanted to see the next video. Now I’d much rather watch re-runs of Quincy while massaging my bunions.