The 2018 VMAs: An Example of the Toxicity of Award Shows

Olivia Montgomery, Editor-In-Chief

The MTV Video Music Awards are anticipated every year and not for the reason they should be.

The first VMAs took place in 1984 and have provided us with numerous iconic pop culture moments since then. However, these moments are remembered for their drama and chaos, not a well-done performance or inspirational speech.

In 2009, Kanye West coined the phrase, “I’m gonna let you finish but-“ when he took the mic from Taylor Swift as she accepted her award for best video, proclaiming Beyoncé was the real winner. This moment is still referenced nine years later in memes across social media.

The 2018 VMAs took place on Monday night, and they were no different. Social media was abuzz with comments about Madonna’s tribute to Aretha Franklin, Tiffany Haddish’s shade toward Fifth Harmony, and the tension between Nicki Minaj and Travis Scott.

Obviously, an award show such as the VMAs is not intended to be the beacon of sophistication and artistic expression, but it would be nice to see more attention put on the actual performances and artists.

The excitement over VMA drama is just an example of a much larger problem in our society. Why do we choose to give our time to petty celebrity feuds, which are likely staged to gain publicity, instead of more enriching forms of entertainment?

It would be one thing if the VMAs were just a program meant for mindless entertainment, but with social media playing such a large role in our lives, it seems that the gossip over the “shadiest moments of the 2018 VMAs” is inescapable.

And the norm it establishes is even more alarming. It teaches people to seek out and reward malice instead of celebrating artistic expression.

For example, Childish Gambino won four awards for his song “This is America”, which comments on racial discrimination in the U.S. At the end of Ariana Grande’s performance of “God is a Woman”, she brought her mother and 92-year-old grandmother on stage. There should have been more props given to moments like these.

It is important to consider the statement we are making by buying into the drama that goes on in the entertainment industry. It seems that we are saying artists should be given more attention for their feuds than the contribution they make to their genre.