If UGA students have strong feelings to express about something, we express them. Just come to Sanford Stadium during a home game and you will see. The VMAs were no exception to this, as evidenced by the influx of hundreds of messages in the Junior Jewels TV, the UGA Taylor Swift Society’s, group chat. Students commented on everything, from the outfits to the winners to the setlist, and here are some of their thoughts and insights on one of the biggest nights in the music industry.
Gabby Floyd, a senior at UGA, expressed her disappointment in the trend of awards shows that have been observed recently. She commented on how shows have “lost their sparkle” with their need to appeal to audiences and viewers. The awards become predictable, as they try to award those who attend the show or those whose names would draw more eyes to the show. In addition to her comments, there was frustration expressed by many students about the show’s extremely long length (it went almost an hour over the expected run time) and disappointment about the performers. They felt that artists such as Renee Rapp and Sabrina Carpenter should have had chances to perform on the main stages and ones like Victoria Monet, Chloe x Halle, and SZA should have been invited to perform and be treated with more respect. Most notably, SZA was slated to attend and perform until she was snubbed for an Artist of the Year nomination, despite having one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially selling albums of the year and one of the most popular tours of the year.
Now, one of the most pressing issues in Hollywood today is the writer’s strike and the SAG-AFTRA strike currently happening. Most recently, Drew Barrymore faced much backlash for attempting to continue her talk show without writers during the strike and ended up canceling the shows she was going to tape. The strike poses large issues for things like award shows, as popular actors cannot attend and promote their work per union guidelines, and writers cannot outline the show. One of the biggest issues with the VMAs this year was its extended run time. Without the work of proper writers, the show seemed poorly crafted. There seemed to be too many performances planned, which was aimed to reduce screen time of when the writers were needed (e.g.: to write the intros to award announcements). Nicki Minaj, this year’s host, was also rarely seen, which could possibly be due to a lack of writers to help craft a monologue. With this, there was not nearly enough time for most awards to be announced, with large categories like Artist of the Year, Song of the Summer, and Album of the Year having to be announced on X after the show’s end. During the show, there was also picketing occurring directly outside the venue, causing delays. Given these issues, it leaves one wondering if the show should have even occurred due to the strike.
Overall, this year’s VMAs, while fun, showed why fewer people tune into awards shows each year. Something that used to be an influential moment in the cultural zeitgeist has turned into three hours of attempted pandering, poorly crafted jokes, and a lack of time management. The issues present in last Tuesday’s show aren’t unique to the VMAs. For years, people in the industry and fans have all called for more transparency in the process of nominating and awarding individuals, and some have even pulled their work from nomination consideration for these reasons (most notably, the Weekend after his Grammys snub in 2021). It may just show a larger social issue on the need for more accountability and transparency from large organizations. In a way, the issues with the VMAs emphasized exactly what the writers are picketing for. Without them, the quality of content is just poor, no matter how much effort executives use to attempt to make it better. Their work is irreplaceable and like everyone, they too deserve to be fairly compensated for their work. Awards shows in general may be on the decline, and without a serious overhaul in coming years, I don’t think this view will change. In the end, we loved seeing all of our favorite artists at the show this past week, but the VMAs themselves were not everything UGA students hoped they would be.