You never know what’s going to happen at the MTV Video Music Awards. Maybe Brittney Spears is going to make out with Madonna. Maybe Miley Cyrus is going to twerk on a teddy bear. Or maybe — just maybe — Kanye West is going to announce that he’s running for President of the United States.
It seemed like the theme of tonight’s Moonman Awards was going to be beef-squashing, what with Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj performing together to open the show and Taylor Swift presenting Kanye West with the Video Vanguard Award. But no! The theme of tonight’s Moonman Awards was: Kanye West is running for President of the United States.
How it happened was that Kanye took the stage and accepted the Vanguard Award from T-Swizzle. The audience cheered for him a long, long time while he stood there in silence and Taylor Swift retired to the audience to inch closer and closer to Kim Kardashian. Then, Kanye gave a rambling speech — for real, it lasted for 15 uninterrupted minutes — about how he doesn’t understand awards shows, and brands are messing up our kids, and he’s still not sure how he should have handled Taylor Swift winning the VMA Beyonce should have won, and Justin Timberlake cried when he lost at the Grammys, and yeah he smoked a little weed tonight to take the edge off, and also about how MTV courts controversy at these awards shows and then exploits them for profits. He pondered what celebrity means in 2015, and what it can do.
Then, before dropping the literal mic and walking off the stage, he said:
If my grandfather was here right now, he would not let me back down. I don’t know what I’m going to lose after this. It don’t matter, though, because it ain’t about me, bro! It’s about ideas! And … in 2020, I have decided to run for president.
The other major moment of the night came when Nicki Minaj called out Miley Cyrus for putting her on blast in a New York Times profile last week. In the interview, the reporter asked Miley about the frustration Nicki Minaj expressed on Twitter when “Anaconda” was inexplicably snubbed by MTV in the Best Video category. The video broke all kinds of viewing records and became a pop culture sensation, after all. Miley responded:
If you do things with an open heart and you come at things with love, you would be heard and I would respect your statement. But I don’t respect your statement because of the anger that came with it. And it’s not anger like, “Guys, I’m frustrated about some things that are a bigger issue.” You made it about you. Not to sound like a bitch, but that’s like, “Eh, I didn’t get my VMA.”
When the NYT reporter pressed Miley, noting the Minaj’s commentary was actually about a larger, racial issue, Miley inexcusably responded, “If you want to make it about race, there’s a way you could do that. But don’t make it just about yourself.”
So tonight, when accepting her award for Best Hip-Hop Video, Minaj thanked the people who inspired and supported her, especially her pastor; then: “And now back to this bitch who had a lot to say about me in the press. Miley, what’s good?”
Miley responded: “We’re all in this industry. We all do interviews. We all know how they manipulate. Nicki, congratulations.”
According to an Entertainment Weekly source, the whole thing wasn’t staged by a WWE choreographer like I thought when I first saw it (especially because it followed up an announcer promising “more girl beef” before the commercial break). Obviously, the last person on earth who should be telling anyone how to talk about race is Miley Cyrus, who is infamous for profiting off of cultural appropriation and even called Snoop Dogg her “mammy” tonight.
The hot takes will be thick on the ground tomorrow morning.
The Good Times
+ Amber Rose’s feminist red carpet fashion. She and several friends wore bodysuits covered in sexist slurs.
+ Big Sean, Kanye West and John Legend accepted the award for Song With a Social Message for “One Man Can Change the World.” Big Sean’s speech was about his trailblazing grandma who was one of the first black female captains in World War II.
+ Nicki and Taylor, for real.
I love this full circle moment of Taylor joining Nicki's stage after a summer full of stars joining Taylor's stage. #VMAs
— Janet Mock (@janetmock) August 31, 2015
+ I didn’t know who Tori Kelly was before tonight, but holy crap! Her performance was raw and real and kind of breathtaking!
The Weird Times
+ Justin Bieber was moved to tears by the performance of Justin Bieber.
+ Demi Lovato sang “Cool For The Summer” and kind of tried to get something sapphic going with Iggy Azalea who performed with her for some reason, but it never got started and Demi was ultimately carried away by the audience inside a giant inflatable pool.
+ Miley Cyrus dropped a new (free) album at the end of the broadcast after firing off a crotch cannon and dancing with an entire troupe of RuPaul’s Drag Race backups in a Lisa Frank-themed ball-tripping performance about actually tripping balls.
The Winners of the Moonmen
Best Rock Video: Fall Out Boy, “Uma Thurman”
Best Pop Video: Taylor Swift, “Blank Space”
Best Male Video: Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk”
Best Hip-Hop Video: Nicki Minaj, “Anaconda”
Best Female Video: Taylor Swift, “Blank Space”
Best Video With a Social Message: Big Sean featuring Kanye West & John Legend, “One Man Can Change the World”
Artist to Watch: Fetty Wap
Video of the Year: Taylor Swift featuring Kendrick Lamar, “Bad Blood”