Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

VMAs an affront to all music fans

“Remember when MTV played music videos?”

This is the dumbest question that is most constantly asked by anyone in their 20s, because, no, I have no memories of an all-music channel.

No students at this college have any serious memory of such a channel unless they stole their parents’ VHS tapes of 1984 MTV all-day marathons. (And I state this because MTV does still play videos. They are only at the exact times you are asleep, i.e. 2 to 5 a.m. Thus, you are not decrying MTV for not playing videos, but rather not playing videos all the damned time.)

We ask this question because we seem to think we care about music, about the art form of the music video, and about both of those things at once. This is why the MTV Video Music Awards show is a scourge to the music experience and why I beg you to avoid it at all costs.

The biggest problem already with the show is that there is no bit of care toward the legitimate art of video excellence. David Fincher, Anton Corbijn, Marc Webb and Michael Bay are ex-music video directors now with blossoming film careers, and I imagine you haven’t remembered one bit about their music video work.

Romain Gavras made one of the bravest clips in any medium with his amazingly shot video for M.I.A.’s “Born Free,” and you’ve probably never even heard of him.

The work is secondary to the vanity of the artists involved, even though I personally barely have any memory of those with amazing videos rewarded for Video of the Year, the supposed top prize of the show.

Aerosmith’s “Cryin’” won the award in 1994, despite the fact that no one could tell the difference between it and “Crazy,” not helped by both starring a young Alicia Silverstone and having roughly the same plot. Britney Spears won the award for “Piece of Me” in 2008, a video I’m certain not even the most hardcore Britney fan has any memory of.

From Panic! at the Disco to Justin Bieber, the awards have evolved from their previous form of giving Peter Gabriel and Tom Petty credit for insane ideas for videos — watch the video for Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer”— to giving credit entirely for aesthetic.

Moreover, the show is less about music and more about events. Instead of something as gaudy as the Academy Awards, which is about taste-making, the VMAs thrive on assumed insanity — which is destroying music’s mainstream audience.

You want proof? Raise your hand if you watched all six videos nominated for Video of the Year. First off, since you aren’t going to raise your hand reading a newspaper or while on a computer, no one’s hands went up.

But no one’s hands would have gone up anyway, because chances are you only saw Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” and “Telephone,” maybe Eminem’s “Not Afraid” and B.O.B.’s “Airplanes” if you’re crazy. You probably have never even heard of Florence + The Machine or thought Jared Leto liked acting more than music.

Meanwhile, every human seems to remember the Kanye West debacle from last year and that one time Madonna kissed Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera onstage.

The Wikipedia entry for the Video Music Awards even exclusively brings up the Kanye incident as opposed to mentioning what video Taylor Swift won for. (The irony is that Kanye West actually gave a crap about the very awards show that doesn’t give a crap about its winners.)

Sadly, I don’t know if we could reverse this pattern, but there has to be a point to give up. So many people use as a boring defensive introduction that they “love music,” but no one gives themselves the credit to discredit when music is treated as an afterthought to Chelsea Handler being drunker on stage than most Americans. So I’ll be forceful and tell you to stop it.

You don’t have to watch this show; in fact, it would better serve the truly talented in America if you avoid this show entirely. There’s a music shop here called Oz Music with some great albums. Go buy some of those records, please.

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