You know this isn't anywhere near the best MTV Video Music Awards, as some backstage twerp was insisting, if the biggest part of the show Sunday came in responding to what happened last year: Kanye West swiping the microphone from winner Taylor Swift and interrupting her victory speech with his opinion that Beyonce should have won.
For largely unfunny host Chelsea Handler, it was the climax of her wan opening monologue, showing potential winners what to do if someone tries to interrupt them -- defensive kick boxing on a hapless walking dummy.
The whole scene from 2009 was replayed to set the scene for Swift's response in music, which came first, a ballad that seemed full of pain even as it grandiosely forgave the rapper -- albeit with a little patronizing: "32 and still growing up / Who you are is not what you did / You're still an innocent."
The response from West in a much-hyped performance that closed the show late, was the self lacerating pity party encouraging people to "Run away from me, baby."
"I always find something wrong / You've been putting up with my s--- way too long. I'm so gifted at finding what I don't like the most / So I think it's time for us to have a toast."
And then the rousing chorus, which won't help but be a theme song for every politician or public figure of any stripe -- to be sung lustily by the group in the contrasting stripe:
"Let's a have a toast for the douchebags / Let's have a toast for the assholes / Let's have a toast for the scumbags / Every one of them that I know."
So this is where we're at: looking at our weaknesses and accepting them even if we don't fully forgive them.
"Baby, I got a plan," as he ended. "Run away fast as you can."
It may have been better put by Linkin Park, one of the few bands that played the two hour event (up to then, the most prominent rock band of the show had been the one playing for the free credit report ads). The prominent chorus in their current song "Catalyst" is: "God bless us everyone, we're a broken people living on a loaded gun."
According to MTV, our entertainment is such that only Jersey Shore is the constant touchstone, appearing a handful of times in the awards show and referred to a handful more.
And though she participated in a dumb hot tub gag with them, Handler had a decent line early in the broadcast when she first introduced Snooki et al: "Don't applaud!" she implored. "They're the reason MTV doesn't play your videos."
True enough. And MTV didn't just rest on the too-tanned faces of their most popular personalities, they tried to resurrect those from the past as well, specifically the cast of Jackass, back to promote a deeply unnecessary 3D movie out in theaters next month (the cast of Jersey Shore were seen appearing to enjoy it immensely at a screening -- endorsement enough).
To this you could add Eminem, who opened the show with some intensity, accompanied by Rihanna. But with his hoodie on, he rather reminded you of an even older MTV icon, Cornholio.
Speaking of old, there was nobody older than Cher, 64 (!), who came out in her "If I Could Turn Back Time" peek-a-boo costume circa 1992 to give out the big award to someone she clearly may have influenced: Lady Gaga, who won the Video of the Year Award, the biggest of the eight awards she received all night, and the one she accepted in her third outfit of the night, a costume made entirely of cuts of meat.
Look for someone to be singing apologies for that next year.
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