I Watched the 2019 VMA's and I'm Upset

It seems the past few years of the MTV Music Video Awards have been lackluster, and I find myself still tuning in out of habit and with a glimmer of hope that it will be better than the last time. Unfortunately, many are not as loyal as I am. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the VMA’s hit an all-time ratings low for the third year in a row. Even with major names like Taylor Swift and Missy Elliot, who was awarded the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, couldn't pull in the views. They’re not alone. It seems almost all award shows aren't getting the views like they used to. In the past year, viewing figures have been down for almost every big award show, with the Oscars and Grammys all drawing some of their lowest audiences ever. Could it be that award shows are dying?

I don’t mean to pick on MTV. They're trying their best, but I think it's best to start here to highlight the bigger problems of all award shows.

To start off, they’re kind of boring. In this fast-paced digital age, these award shows think their viewers have the attention span to sit through three hours. The hosts don’t make it any better. We sit through about a five-minute dialogue with jokes that are somewhat funny. If they don't land, you can feel the awkwardness of the audience with their forced laughter. Always a joke about the most recent scandal, trying their best not to offend anyone so it's not them next up at the stake.

Next, award shows feel like an overrated pop culture fest. They take any chance to display their knowledge of the latest meme or dance craze. But it seems to be a disconnect when it comes to performances and the awards given. Rap music has taken the lead as the most popular genre in America, let alone it has influenced what has been deemed popular culture for years. But most of the performances and award categories are pop-based. Also, do you ever find yourself thinking "what" when the winners are announced, like “who voted for that?”  No one relies on award shows to tell them what is good anymore, especially when the governing boards are extremely white and exceptionally male. But the public can feel when awards are wrongly given. For example, Kanye said what we were all thinking but had the liquid courage to actually do it . The cycle has continued for years with Beyonce being snubbed once again at the 2016 Grammys, Travis Scott at the 2018 Grammys, and Lil Nas X being snubbed multiple times at this years VMA’s even though breaking numerous records for his song Old Town Road. For this, people mostly watch award shows to watch their favorite artist, then turn the channel. 

Ultimately, the shows, especially the VMA’s just aren't the same anymore. I tune in every year hoping for the same shock and awe there used to be, but it just isn't there, and others are also taking note. What they are starting to lack is controversy. Every award show is like a smooth sailing ship, which is good for producers but boring for the viewer. I remember watching and being on the edge of my seat waiting for something to happen. That is how we got the Britney and Madonna makeout, Kanye running on stage, and Miley’s grotesque "We Can't Stop" performance. Award shows are supposed to be entertaining, almost like seeing a peek into how artists truly are in real time, not in a music video or a calculated interview. Also, it could just be artists aren't built the same anymore. I will never forget when I watched Lady Gaga perform "Paparazzi" on her VMA’s debut. The artistry and talent that went into that performance was unmatched. The same with Beyonce with her performance when she received the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award or when she decided to bring her Formation World Tour to the VMA stage. Now I understand, not everyone can be Gaga or Beyonce. Most popular artists aren't built to be great performers, but can we see a little more effort being put in? Not all the performances were bad; I saw a glimmer of hope in Lizzo’s, Rosalia’s, and Normani’s performances, but for the rest…I digress.

The good points of award shows seem to only be the red carpet and the performances, but is that enough to get the views and have people come back to watch next year? I always dreamed of covering the red carpet at an award show, but it seems like their demise is coming to an end quickly.