Although Katy Perry had a prestigious show-closing spot at the VMAs, her much-hyped outdoor performance of Prism’s first single, "Roar," ended up being pretty anticlimactic. The apricot vinyl twerkery of one Miley Destiny Hope Cyrus monopolized the entire VMA news cycle, with a couple of spare words sprinkled in for the 'N Sync reunion. Barely a word of post-show watercooler chatter ended up being devoted to Perry, which is pretty amazing considering she jumped rope in a leopard-print sports bra. But there were no memes or GIFs of Perry jiggling on things, no arguments that her notorious performance was taking attention away from more serious issues. Perry played it relatively safe, and "Roar" is a huge hit worldwide, so there's clearly not much reason for her to tamper with the sugar-sparkle-sunshine formula she perfected on Teenage Dream.
Vanilla Ice has a Wikipedia page that is roughly 500 times the length that you would expect it to be. I'm kind of stuck on the paragraphs describing how he let his friends tattoo him when he was on a drug binge and the chronicle of when his pets, a wallaroo and a goat, ran away. There's much more — battery charges, motocrossing, Juggalo wrestling — and Ice, a.k.a. Rob Van Winkle, is going to be adding to his own personal canon in 2014 with a DIY Network show called Vanilla Ice Goes Amish. The show is a follow-up to Van Winkle's Vanilla Ice Project, but this time he's going to a settlement in Ohio and leaving his power tools behind. I think his thoroughly modern facial hair will look very becoming with a wide-brim straw hat and some suspenders. Hand-churned Vanilla, artisinally chipped Ice.
Miley gave her first post-VMAs interview to MTV: "We’re three days later and people are still talking about it. They’re overthinking it. You’re thinking about it more than I thought about it when I did it. Like, I didn’t even think about it ’cause that’s just me."
We hear you, dear listeners. And while it may seem a little excessive to devote not one, not two, but three podcasts to our embattled twerkaholic Miley Cyrus this week, we understand the importance of giving the people what you want. So we spent no less than 40 minutes this week dissecting the VMA performance controversy from every angle humanly possible. Should Miley be ashamed of herself? Is Miley an oppressor? Is Miley a racist? Is Miley a feminist? Is this "the worst it can get"? Why are we even talking about this so much? Are we even qualified to talk about this? (We mention this excellent essay by Tressie McMillan Cottom, someone who definitely is.)
After that we veer into the final days of the Song of the Millennium Bracket, pour a little out for the early defeat of Britney Spears's "Toxic," and (hotly!) debate whether or not Modest Mouse should have been included in the top 64.
Did you actually think the response to Miley Cyrus's VMA performance was going to make her reconsider her new direction? I thought she told you that we can't stop. Miley's performance was so controversial because it made everyone take a step back and examine the blurred lines of personal identity politics in 2013. Was Miley an overly sheltered idiot who made an ass of herself, or was she just taking Jay Z's advice to mean she should keep twerking her way into a fantasy postracial future?
Hey, man. You got a cigarette I can bum? This week on the pod, Andy and I discussed Breaking Bad — the ricin, the weed, the Landry, the chess moves, the heartbreak, and the Skyler White problem.
Then we talked about the Miley Cyrus problem. Come on, tell me you weren't dying to hear two white guys break down the complicated issues of gender and race that were raised by Miley's risqué performance at the VMAs. Thank us later. We also chatted about Drake's shirts and whether anyone, Robin Thicke or not, should be allowed to wear vertical stripes on television.
Well, VMAs, I have to hand it to you. You've hijacked all of the feeds. You're drunk, you're driving, you're being tailed by police, you're hitting telephone poles and you're still going. I guess you've won. I guess we've been dwarfed by your enormity, your force. The fact that the Internet's reactions to the performances — Miley's most of all — spawned so many aftershocks, even though not all of them were real (see: Will Smith and family) reactions to begin with, makes this post-VMA redux seem like the show was actually a peek into a meme-breeding facility. The ceremony seemed pre-GIFed. Talking points were offered to the Internet like appetizers on trays, like the VMAs were saying, "Sir? Ma'am? You asked for content? Here it is."
Let's get this out of the way: There's no particular reason to go see the VMAs live. This thing is not a live show that happens to be televised: It's a performance-first, production-heavy event, rendered in MTV's signature jump-cut OCD style for TV consumption. And so the plebes in attendance can sometimes feel like second-class citizens, caught trying to stare around the epic giant inflated Moon Man's left leg, where Daft Punk and Pharrell and Nile Rodgers are apparently palling around up on camera. This doesn’t apply to the famous people, of course. The famous people get the proper vantage points they, by rights of their fame, totally deserve.
Speaking of the beautiful people: MTV had them all huddled in one well-lit section to the right of the stage, where waiters with drink trays were omnipresent. You got to see every last ounce of Taylor Swift's carefully cultivated reaction shots, in crisp HD. I and the rest of the norms in section 112 craned our necks to figure out which of the Taylor Swift–like shapes was actually Taylor Swift. Until, like, 30 minutes in, I didn't know that the crazy big-haired lady in the bikini was Lady Gaga. Honestly, if you wanna know what it is you "didn’t see on TV," it’s a whole bunch of dudes in cargo shorts and head sets. Also: When Macklemore thanked "all the homies nominated," it seemed uncouth to, as you certainly would in the comforts of your own living room, scream out "this fucking guy."
If you dared go near Twitter, or the darker corners of MySpace, or, heaven forfend, accidentally tuned your television to MTV, the 2013 Video Music Awards is a thing that happened to you last night. But we're here to let you know it's OK; it also happened to us. It's a losing game to question whatever motives got us to this place — a desire to see if Lady Gaga would wear a blank pizza box on her face, an overwhelming curiosity about which members of 'N Sync are still alive, or the hope that you might be able to ensnare YouTube pixie Austin Mahone in your dream catcher should he escape your plasma TV, per the love-spell you cast — when we're all on the other side of it now. We're safe.
A little later today, Grantland's own Amos Barshad will be reporting on his experience from deep inside the belly of the VMA beast. (Live from Brooklyn, which now is a smoldering ruin.) But for the moment, let's all relive the VMAs through the faces. The glorious, glorious faces. Faces of Triumph. Faces of Defeat. (There were no Faces of Defeat; these are not real awards.) Faces of Just So Very Happy to Be Back Onstage With Justin Timberlake. Every face tells a story, one that ends in, "None of you people have any respect for your free time. Enjoy your bowl of microwave soup. By the time this image reaches you, I will be splashing around in a koi pond full of Ciroc with a Chechen warlord's second-favorite offspring."
So now we know why Miley Cyrus was so confident that her "We Can't Stop" ratchet makeover wouldn't destroy the pop-rock-country foundation that the House of Hannah Montana was built on. She had a second single, "Wrecking Ball," up her sleeve all along, designed to appeal to the Miley fans who loved her 2009 inspirational ballad "The Climb" and have no idea whatsoever what #turnt means. Miley herself already seems to be getting bored with her most recent phase; her super-short cropped pixie has grown out slightly and she's been wearing it in Björkish pigtail buns, and she more or less officiated at her own twerking funeral during the VMAs.
I hate every awards show except the MTV Video Music Awards. The Oscars, the Emmys, the Grammys, the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and all of the other fringe awards shows have it all wrong by pretending like their stupid trophies matter. We only watch awards shows to judge the way people look and facilitate our sick obsession with critiquing the projected personalities of celebrities.
The MTV Video Music Awards is the perfect awards show because every year it is a slave to hyper-recent cultural trends. Above all else, the VMAs create a stimulating awards show for the viewer by being completely shameless when it comes to curating a handful of moments worth talking about. This is the same sort of trend-addiction vortex that got Psy to a billion views on YouTube. The VMAs aren’t like the Oscars, piling the legacy of the entire show on one guest host. Their strategy seems to be putting as many celebrities as possible in the same room and hoping it turns into chaos, which basically means a black rapper interrupting a teenage white girl’s acceptance speech.
Because 'N Sync reunion! 'N Sync reunion! It's only for one night, and it's more of a promo stunt than an actual full-blown reunification, but it's really happening! We're getting an 'N Sync reunion! As the New York Post reports, "Justin Timberlake and his former band members are set to reunite for a special performance on the VMAs Sunday night at the Barclays Center. MTV announced that Timberlake will perform at the VMAs and receive the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. But we're told former bandmates J.C. Chasez, Lance Bass, Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick are scheduled to join him onstage for a reunion performance." Congratulations Joey, Lance, Chris, and (to a mildly lesser extent) J.C.: Justin Timberlake's about to momentarily let you back into the Garden of Eden.
Jim Carrey, reigning funnyman of your childhood/adolescence/actual adulthood, is back this week — almost unrecognizably — as Colonel Stars and Stripes in Kick Ass 2. It's been a long time since those halcyon days when it seemed like there was at least one high-profile Carrey vehicle coming out every year, so let's take a look back at some of the high points of his storied career.
We're now waist-deep in awards season, and the Grantland staff would like to take this opportunity to remind all the Oscar, Grammy, and Golden Collar nominees out there that should they have to step up to that podium and take that mic on national television, they owe it to themselves to study up beforehand and see how the pros handle it. Here are our favorite awards show acceptance (and unacceptance) speeches from all corners of the entertainment world.