I missed Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards for maybe the 6th or 7th year in a row, figuring correctly that a) the music’s not for me, b) wardrobe malfunctions and/or moments of controversy, contrived or otherwise would be circulated on social media, and c) any attempt to avoid a Wayne Coyne cameo with host Miley Cyrus would be rewarded in the form of brain cells saved rather than squandered.
What I wasn’t counting on, however, was a Video Vanguard Award acceptance speech by Kanye West (above, right) that threatened to extend until the 2016 VMA’s. Writing for BK Nation, Refrigerator’s Allen Callaci calls West’s monologue, “the only moment of genuine artistic rebellion and provocation to be found in the two-hour plus Trojan condom-sponsored celebration of manufactured and copyrighted rock ‘n’ roll craziness.”
I still don’t understand award shows. Five artists work their entire lives, win, sell records, sell concert tickets, come, stand on a carpet and for the first time in their life, be judged, and look like a loser.
When was the last time a major musician with a national platform spoke that kind of inglorious truth about their industry?
Kanye may be married to a two-dimensional reality star, he may be written off as a whiney hypocritical millionaire mercilessly gnawing on the fingers attached to the hand that feeds him, and his VMA speech may be easily ridiculed as a bunch of “chemically enhanced” blather (by his own admission he had “rolled up a little something” before he gave the speech). Those factors do not diminish his central point: The intrinsic value of art gets diminished the second it needs to be validated by the handing out of trophies from a third-rate bowling league.