The Movieline Nine: The VMAs' Proudest and Ugliest Moments
1. (PROUD) It's Time to Start the Music
Lady Gaga looks no further than her own Muppet-slaying wardrobe when selecting a date for last night's Video Music Awards, one Mr. Kermit the Frog. On the red carpet outside Radio City Music Hall, she woos Kermit with a red-light-district pterodactyl costume. This is because she's Lady Gaga, and that's one of her five settings.
2. (UGLY) Take a Bow. Please.
Madonna opens the ceremony with a speech about Michael Jackson, comparing his lost childhood to the death of her mother when she was six, or something. Narcissism: the one constant in Madonna's career of reinvention. She adds, "Blanket Jackson's childhood was ruined by the death of his father. My daughter Lourdes's childhood was ruined by untamed Spanish eyebrows."
3. (PROUD) Together Again
The much-hyped musical tribute to Michael Jackson starts with a cavalcade of dancers jiving to the "Thriller," "Bad," and "Smooth Criminal" videos. Then, with Michael's mid-'90s hit "Scream" starting up, his duet partner/occasional sister Janet bounces onstage for a poignant, if very brief Nat King/Natalie Cole situation. It could've been worse. They could've let semiprofessional Michael Jackson impersonator Jermaine Jackson up there.
4. (UGLY) Forgetting the VMA Grand Marshall
Russell Brand, the VMA host for two years running, may very well be the anti-funny. He is unarguably the worst portion of the evening, throwing around dick jokes and playful misogyny with stuttering unease. Chris Rock, where art thou?
5. (UGLY) Heartless
Taylor Swift, when accepting the night's first award for Best Female Video, is interrupted during her earnest speech by Kanye West, who jumps onstage to announce that losing nominee Beyonce had "one of the best videos of all time." Taylor, looking like a jilted prom queen who wears t-shirts and not short skirts, saunters off afterward, and the crowd wildly boos Kanye. Though he'll later issue an apology on his screamy blog, the damage is done. George W. Bush hates single ladies.
6. (PROUD) Put a Ring on 'Em
Lady Gaga's blood-drenched performance of "Paparazzi" and Beyonce's show-stopping, gigantic reenactment of "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" are the best of the night. Other performance highlights: Pink's Flying Wallendas acrobat act (for her song "Sober"), and Jay-Z's closing duet with Alicia Keys. Not so hot: the enigmatically bland performance by Green Day, who, after fifteen years, now shop for stagewear at the mall.
7. (UGLY) 30 Rot
Throughout the night, skits with Eminem and Tracy Morgan work as segues between awards. Mysteriously, none of the clips are funny, and I wonder: Why is Eminem obsessed with sketch performance? Jimmy Kimmel, what did you do to this man? In related news, the faces of Eminem and Marc Anthony are tied in the race to become Michael Stipe.
8. (UGLY) From the Block
When introducing the nominees for Best Hip Hop Video, Jennifer Lopez takes time to mention that hip-hop was invented in the Bronx, where she's from. The Sugarhill Gang laid down their first beats at a barbecue behind her house. Grandmaster Flash used to babysit her after school and became inspired when baby Jen pissed on the stairs. Breakdance culture started when Jennifer Lopez tripped on a canister of Juicy Juice and fell into an incredible spin. Despite a trail of historical evidence that Lopez's biopic should win "Best Hip/Hop Video," Eminem picks up the trophy.
9. (PROUD) Teardrops on Beyonce's Guitar-Shaped Heart
Beyonce deservedly wins the VMA for "Video of the Year," and while accepting her award, she recalls how exciting it was to receive her first Moonman with Destiny's Child during her teen years. She then summons Taylor Swift back onstage to finish her Kanye-hijacked speech, murmuring that the psychopath in the sunglasses can't find her this time. He's in Beyonce's Special Jail right now, the same place where Letoya Luckett is serving two life sentences.