Ah, the MTV movie awards…I don’t usually feel compelled to right about celebrity get-togethers or celebrities at all for that matter but Sunday’s production was really something to behold. At its finest point, the show featured some truly gorgeous set work, clever costume design, fantastic stage lighting and mind-blowingly creative performances. At its lowest, the show’s over-sexualizing and objectification of women threatened to send the creative production off its axis. And not to mention moments like Beyoncé’s performance of “Partition” just felt awkward. I understand that art and sexuality often find themselves in the same bed but to blatantly objectify women and then post on the stage in rolling neon lights “We’re not objectifying women” left me scratching my head. I know it’s MTV but come on guys you’re better than that. Everything said, the over-the-top blend of celebrity hoopla and brilliant creative work definitely answered the call of “Entertain the People” which, for some reason made me feel a little better about the whole thing.
The awards themselves were equally bizarre; and in this case, I’m totally okay with it. MTV once again made the otherwise boring task of handing out awards to musicians extremely exciting. Did they piss a few people off in the process? Probably, but like I’ve always said, the number one rule of good art is it should evoke a strong emotional response and the over the top. Whether it was Miley Cyrus having runaway Jesse Helt accepting her award while she sobbed next to the stage or Beyoncé’s onstage family reunion, the 2014 edition of MTV’s award acceptances were definitely press worthy.
Switching gears, let’s focus on what really worked creatively. The most obvious was the opening intro, which blended performance art, body painting and an opening camera pan through Nikki Minaj’s neon jungle. The performance was built around her new single “Anaconda” and was a fitting prelude to what would be a night filled with shock and awe.
After Minaj exited the stage, it was on to Ariana Grande’s cast of characters that looked as if they’d been raiding David Bowie’s closet. It appears someone decided to dust off the vinyl used to create those hokie visors from the 1990’s and turn them into what you see here…very cool. 5 Seconds of summer then followed with a much more conventional approach proving that simple and creative almost always gets the job done. The set featured shipping pallets, Urban Outfitters-style, catastrophically strewn all over the stage which were heated with warm yellow/orange floodlights. This accented both the song and the youth of the band exceptionally well.
Then came the rolling crescendo of sexuality. First Nikki Minaj’s dress decided to fall apart, which rendered her mostly immobile, then Jesse Jane paraded out in a costume that looked as if it had already malfunctioned before she put it on. Her range of motion was so severely crippled her only option was to pace back and forth across the stage. The dress probably worked a lot better on paper than it did as a functional piece of clothing and other than shock value, this performance really didn’t provide much on the artistic side of things.
Next up was my absolute favorite performance of the evening, Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora’s duet “Black Widow”. If you want to see what flawless execution of the creative process looks like in motion, watch this video. This one had it all; imaginative costumes, beautiful lighting, and most importantly, it let the performance drive the production. I’ve never particularly been a fan of Miss Azalea but after watching the arachnophobic onslaught of spoken words she and her equally talented counterpart Rita Ora unleashed upon the crowd, I was truly left in awe. I’ve never seen a women or anyone for that matter, speak as fast as Iggy and Rita and for that, I give these women serious kudos. After we give the kudos out, can we also maybe check Rita’s driver’s license because I’m pretty sure she’s Rhianna.
As I mentioned this was the high watermark of the awards, so from this point on my interested waned a bit. As I mentioned Miley Cyrus sent Jesse Helm, a runaway to accept her award for best video. I’m not a Miley basher by any means and I can always appreciate a celebrity who invests their time and money into helping the underprivileged, but the whole thing kind of felt an attempt to hijack the show. I guess that’s just Miley being Miley and really shouldn’t have been surprised.
The final performance of the night belonged to the one and only Beyonce and I must say I was disappointed. I know diehard fans will hail this as amazing but for me it just seemed like a mash-up that didn’t really fit together cohesively. The performance had its moments but in the end, it seemed way overproduced. I also didn’t believe dragging the entire family onstage in front of millions of viewers; just to prove she’ll be together with Jay-Z a few more months was at all necessary. I like lights, I like lasers, and everything else they threw at us viewers but unlike the “Black Widow” performance, it felt forced.
Last but not least, you can’t mention the MTV music awards without mentioning the iconic “Moonman” awards that the company hands out. It’s been a few decades now since the first chrome astronaut (created by the now defunct Manhattan Design) was walked across the stage. This year was no exception but this time around the design got a funky new facelift by Brooklyn-based artist KAWS. Purists probably won’t like this design and even I’ll admit I’ll miss the silver plated Buzz Aldred, but the KAWS “Moonman” is a much more accurate representation of the quirky personality of the MTV network. You can check out more on KAWS and the new “Moonman” here to get the full scoop.
Anyway, hopefully you enjoyed the awards as much as I did. MTV should be commended for a job well done. The only said part is we have to wait another 365 days to see what they’ll do again next year. Whatever it is, we know it’ll get us talking.