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Media Notes / MTV Video Music Award

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The MTV Video Music Award Moonman trophy, renamed as the Moonperson trophy in 2017.

The MTV Video Music Awards or VMAs is an annual awards ceremony held by MTV honoring music videos and artists.

The ceremony was initially meant to be the alternative to the Grammys, both in honoring contemporary artists as well as having an "anything goes" approach to the live show, featuring outrageous moments from the hosts, presenters and performances. Madonna's performance on the very first show would see her performing "Like a Virgin", while descending down from a wedding cake set piece in a wedding gown/lingerie hybrid outfit, rolling around the stage and writhing suggestively. From that point, the Refuge in Audacity would escalate year after year from artists and their performances until around the The New '10s when it was dialed back several notches due MTV's declining popularity in the mainstream landscape, and millennial/Gen-Z teens and young adults being harder to shock and surprise, barring a Miley moment or two.

Still, the VMAs are still one of the more respected awards and awards ceremonies due to the legacy. Despite declining TV ratings year after year, the ceremony still remains one of MTV's highest-rated events of the year and one of the most engaged topics in social media when it airs.

Notable moments from the VMAs:

  • Britney Spears's disastrous performance at the 2007 show, in the midst of her Creator Breakdown. The performance saw an out-of-shape Britney, with an unconvincing wig/hair extensions wearing an unflattering bikini-type outfit lethargically dancing behind step with her dancers and badly lip-syncing to her new single. Thankfully after she recovered, she returned at the 2016 show with a much better performance.
  • Lady Gaga's Meat Dress at the 2010 show. Yes, it was entirely made of meat.
  • Prince performed "Get Off" at the 1991 show and while turning around, he showed that he had two holes cutout of his pants, revealing his buttcheeks.
  • A drunk Kanye West upstaging Taylor Swift's acceptance speech for Best Female Video in 2009, with the now iconic diatribe "I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time!"note 
  • Andrew "Dice" Clay would be banned from the entire MTV channel after his vulgar set in the 1989 show before he introduced Cher for her performance (the ban would be short-lived, he would appear once more in 1992) Cher's performance of "If I Could Turn Back Time" would be controversial as well as she appeared in the skimpy ass-baring outfit she wore in the music video for the same song (MTV would only play the video after 9pm, and the performance was a Take That! to the decision).
  • Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera performed Madonna's "Like a Virgin" at the beginning of the 2003 show before Madonna would take the stage herself to with them in a homoerotic performance of her "Hollywood" single and Madonna would kiss both Britney and Christina on the lips.
  • Miley Cyrus's outrageous performance at the 2013 show was Fanservice/Fetish Retardant combined, as she twerked on stage on Robin Thicke, wearing a nude-colored bra and panties and did...obscene things with a foam finger.
  • Fiona Apple's infamous "This world is bullshit" acceptance speech after accepting Best New Artist at the 1997 show, decrying the pop culture worship that the awards/MTV celebrates.
  • A sight gag at the 1998 MTV Video Music Award show had Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey showing up in the same dress. After a mutual Death Glare, Mariah rips off the bottom of her dress. Whitney then follows suit, causing the dresses to have two different hemlines.
  • At the 2000 ceremony, after Limp Bizkit won Best Rock Video for "Break Stuff", Rage Against the Machine bassist Tim Commorford climbed a set piece during their acceptance speech, prompting the members of Limp Bizkit to dare him to do a stage dive (though he remained seated on the set piece until security removed during a commercial break). Tim was arrested and spent a night in jail for the incident.
  • Michael Jackson opening the 1994 ceremony, fresh off settling his legal matters in regards to child molestation accusations. He appeared hand in hand with then-new wife Lisa Marie Presley and gave her a big kiss.
  • Nicki Minaj confronting Miley Cyrus (who was hosting) on stage in 2015 while accepting her award for Best Female Video about comments Miley made about her in an interview. "Miley, what's good?" became an instant meme.
  • Lil' Kim's outfit at the 1999 cermony with her bare breast hanging out, only covered with a seashell pasty. Even Diana Ross could barely believe what she saw and she actually jiggled Lil' Kim's breast before hugging her when presenting Best Hip Hop Video.

The categories for the VMAs typically are:

  • Video of the Year
  • Artist of the Year (replaced long-time categories Best Male Video/Male Artist and Best Female Video/Female Artist in 2017 in an effort to eliminate gender-specific awards due to the growing awareness of transgender/non-binary persons, the Moonman award statue was also renamed to the Moonperson statue)
  • Song of the Year
  • Best New Artist
  • Best Pop
  • Best Rock
  • Best Alternative
  • Best R&B
  • Best Hip-Hop
  • Best Latin
  • Best Collaboration
  • Best Group
  • Video for Good (previously as known Video with a Message)
  • Best Direction
  • Best Choreography
  • Best Visual Effects
  • Best Art Direction
  • Best Editing
  • Best Cinematography

The Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award was the "lifetime achivement" award given to artists and directors that made a profound impact in popular culture and music, though this appears been replaced. The inaugural Tricon Award was first awarded to Lady Gaga in 2020, possibly in a move distancing the award from Jackson in the wake of the Leaving Neverland documentary, in which two accusers recount alleged sexual abuse from Jackson. Foo Fighters received the Global Icon award at the 2021 ceremony, an award given out at the MTV Europe Music Awards. The Video Vanguard award made its reappearance during the 2022 ceremony in which it was given to Nicki Minaj.

Winners for Video of the Year

Alternative Title(s): Video Music Award