Review: What it's like to attend the VMAs
A depiction of the official logo of the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards.
This year’s MTV Video Music Awards kicked off with performances by chart-topping artists such as Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes, Lorde, Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus and James Arthur, just to name a few. The show featured 19 performances, making it the biggest VMAs yet.
The show was hosted by Katy Perry, and although her presentation seemed a bit awkward at times, her closing the VMAs with “Swish Swish” with Nicki Minaj by her side definitely brought her back. Kendrick Lamar opened up the event by performing two of his most popular songs, "DNA." and “HUMBLE.” which won a whopping six awards.
I was lucky enough to get the chance to attend the VMAs with my sister, Anais. I'm extremely grateful for getting the chance to go and got a lot of joy out of seeing big-name celebrities like Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes, Lorde, Chance the Rapper, DJ Khaled, Ellen DeGeneres, Nicki Minaj and Heidi Klum. I watched the recorded version of the show to see if what I experienced was similar to that of everyone who watched it at home. After all, it was all on TV anyway, right? Well, not really.
When presenters are on stage announcing an award, you aren't able to see the camera crew and its gear or stylists with extra changes of clothes accompanying them on stage only a few feet away. The film crew was pretty good at avoiding a lot of the behind-the-scenes action I saw.
The film crew did however capture how dull the crowd was, especially the celebrity section. They mainly sat down chatting throughout the show, even during the more upbeat songs like Katy Perry's "Swish Swish" and P!nk's extravaganza. However, between commercial breaks, a crew member advised us to cheer as loud as possible to compensate. It amazed me a show as big as the VMAs took place at The Forum in Inglewood, California, a venue smaller than Gila River Arena in Glendale. I also thought the celebrities made up a larger portion of the crowd, but they actually just sat in one section consisting of about four rows.
From my seat, it was difficult to see what was going on with the celebrities since their backs were facing me, but I did get a good view of Ed Sheeran. He sat next to Chance the Rapper, whose beaming neon-yellow cap and jumper stood out, and hung out with him virtually the entire night. I also saw Sheeran talk to DJ Khaled quite a bit after getting some drinks, too. It was endearing to see how genuine their interactions are. Lorde gets a lot of heat for being "weird and awkward," but at the awards, she was greeting everyone and had pleasant interactions with people.
Regarding performances, some of my personal favorites of the night were "Shape of You" by Sheeran, his collaboration with Lil Uzi Vert for "XO Tour Llif3," "There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back" by Shawn Mendes, "Younger Now" by Miley Cyrus and "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" by DNCE and Rod Stewart. P!nk performed a medley of her music with songs like "Get the Party Started," "So What," "Raise Your Glass" and "Just Give Me A Reason." The entire show was filled with surprises, such as a flying car, giant basketballs and Fifth Harmony literally shattering glass during its performance of "Angel."
There has been a lot of controversy regarding Taylor Swift and the VMAs. She debuted her newest music video for "Look What You Made Me Do" at the awards, as well as the face of the "new Taylor Swift." Taylor deleted all of her social media and claimed "the old Taylor Swift is dead." At one point in the video, 14 of her former characters from her previous music videos are featured making snarky comments that are commonly said about her. For all of this hype, neither her or Zayn showed up to the VMAs to accept their award for best collaboration. Is this really the new face of Taylor Swift, or is it a publicity stunt?
Amidst all of the entertainment brought along by the performers, this was also one of the most politically and socially aware VMAs to date. Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, commonly known as Logic, gave a magnificent speech addressing topics like depression, anxiety, suicide, discrimination and the fight for equality after performing “1-800-273-8255” with Khalid and Alessia Cara.
“I believe that we are all born equal, but we are not treated equally and that is why we must fight,” Hall said. “We must fight for the equality of every man, woman and child regardless of race, religion, color, creed and sexual orientation.”
Jared Leto joined in on the mental health discussion by speaking in remembrance of Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell.
Another highlight of the night was Paris Jackson addressing the controversy regarding white supremacists and Nazis in the United States.
Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer was also recognized at the show for her fight for civil rights. Her mother, Susan Bro, made a heartbreaking speech about the tragic death of her daughter, who was killed when she was struck by an oncoming vehicle driving into a crowd of activists protesting racism. If you would like to be a part of this cause, visit the Heather Heyer Foundation website for more information on how you can get involved.
In addition, Ellen DeGeneres announced the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, which was given to P!nk. P!nk has been in the music industry for over 17 years and is already following in the footsteps of past recipients like David Bowie, Madonna and Justin Timberlake. Her charitable work and powerful spirit moved all of us, especially when she recognized her daughter during her speech and empowered women.
Although a lot of this year's VMAs consisted of groundbreaking performances, important issues like mental health, civil rights and the fight against injustice reaching viewers of a rather young age can be vital in creating a brighter future.
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