The VMA’s Gender-Neutral Category Ended Up Benefitting Ed Sheeran

Following in the footsteps of the MTV Movie and TV Awards, the 2017 MTV VIdeo Music Awards chose to take gender out of the equation. Categories previously divided into male and female variants were merged together, making for one artist of the year category, and the physical award given out, a Moonman, was changed into a Moonperson.

Things went quite differently at the VMAs, though. At the MTV Movie and TV Awards, Beauty and the Beast’s Emma Watson and Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown took home the two acting prizes, subverting expectations that men would dominate. At the VMAs, when Millie herself gave out the artist of the year prize, Ed Sheeran came out on top in a category that included nominees like Lorde, Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars and more.

In a year with split categories, it’s easy to imagine Lorde taking home one prize for her “Green Light” video, with Sheeran or another man claiming the male video award. Instead, one fewer artist gets recognized and the one who does get the gold, Sheeran, is not short on accolades already.

There’s not one good solution to the gendered awards problem. Splitting up performances by the sex or gender of the actors is intrinsically an odd distinction; why not by age? Or by genre of work? Really, it only exists because of tradition. Dividing awards by some either criteria isn’t a bad idea.

But MTV’s solution has been to reduce the number of overall categories, both at the Movie and TV Awards and the VMAs. Their response is, in short, to honor fewer artists versus more. If the idea of genderless awards is to be inclusive, this seems more like a step toward exclusivity instead.

Removing gender as the dominant criteria in awards categorization is an ongoing conversation, and one that’s very much worth having. But it’s also very much worth continuing to experiment with different ideas. MTV’s fix isn’t the end-all, be-all. Anything that winds up crowning Ed Sheeran the sole winner can’t be a perfect solution, to say the least.

Pink’s VMA Speech Was an F U to Gender Norms

Gender norms mean nothing to Pink.

While accepting her VMA Video Vanguard award for her extensive video catalogue, Pink told a story about her daughter, who once approached her and said that she was ugly because she “looked like a boy.”

Pink said that, following her daughter’s admission, she made a Powerpoint presentation highlighting the beauty of androgynous rock stars who, like her daughter, were mocked for transgressing gender. She included singers like Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, Annie Lennox, Prince, Janis Joplin and George Michael.

Pink then added that she told her daughter that she had received similar criticisms about her own gender expression:

“They say that I look like a boy, or I’m too masculine, I have too many opinions. My body is too strong,” she said to people in the audience.

Pink then reassured her daughter and reminded her that she may act or look like a boy, but she continues to sell out arenas all over the world.

“Do you see me growing my hair? Do you see my changing my body? Do you see me changing the way I present myself to ehw rodl? Do you see me selling out arenas all over the world?” Pink asked.

“Baby girl, we don’t change,” Pink told her daughter. “We take the gravel and the shell and we make a pearl. We help other people to change so that hey can see more kinds of beauty.”

Pink then told those in the audience to “keep shining,” regardless of their gender expression.

Twitter loved every second of it.

Turns out, Pink is not only the queen of music videos she’s also the queen of gender fluidity.

Katy Perry Hosted The VMAs — It Was Awkward AF

It’s tough to blame Katy Perry too hard for how her MTV Video Music Awards hosting gig went. She was nothing but game, ready to deliver even the most self-deprecating jokes about her album, about her Twitter presence and more. No one could say she wasn’t trying, to say the least.

Unfortunately, almost every joke and bit fell flat, and Katy’s charisma wasn’t enough to keep the show afloat. She wasn’t a Miley Cyrus-level disaster that is, Katy wasn’t read for filth by one of the winners mid-show. But almost all of her jokes were rejected by the Twittersphere, and rightfully so.

It’s hard to decide what was most painful: Was it her would-be trip to Mars in a pre-taped bit that went on for far too long? How about her voicemails from her friend on her way to Fyre Festival? (Remember Fyre Festival?) Then there was her showing up in a blonde wig after P!nk’s Vanguard Award acceptance speech and snatching her own wig.

At one point, she had to read her would-be Twitter drafts, many of which served as self-shade about her persona and most recent album, Witness. To say that Katy looked uncomfortable delivering each bit is an understatement. Being a good sport only goes so far when the jabs are so poorly crafted.

The one breath of fresh air was a bit with Billy Eichner, star of Billy on the Street, as he yelled questions at the hostess about fake rumors. Among the allegations: that she was dating Morgan Freeman and that she is actually Lana Del Rey’s mom. Katy and Billy’s chemistry sold even the weaker jokes, and one reference to a very real rumor that Katy is JonBenet Ramsey got a seemingly genuine look of shock from the pop star.

That bit worked, in direct contrast to the others, because it was organic. It was an authentic translation of Billy on the Street, a viral sensation, into a VMAs-friendly format. If Katy and the VMAs production team had found a way to strike a similar tone throughout the broadcast, she might’ve managed to turn a thankless hosting gig into something buzzworthy and fun.

Instead, viewers got Katy smiling through bad punchlines, trying to salvage a show that too often felt shaggy and unfocused. It was one act of Katy’s that we’d preferred to have not Witnessed.

Cardi B Stood With Colin Kaepernick While Holding Her Breast During the VMAs

Somebody tell Lil’ Kim that the VMAs has a new favorite breast.

While introducing a performance by Demi Lovato at the 2017 Video Music Awards, Cardi B shouted out to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who ignited a national controversy when he took a knee during the national anthem in support of Black Lives Matter at an August 2016 pre-season game.

Cardi B, who dominated the VMA pre-show with her stunning looks, shouted out Kaepernick and his decision to kneel.

Getting a shout out from the “Bodak Yellow” singer is more support than the NFL has given Kaepernick: he remains unsigned after his decision to stand for black lives.

“Colin Kaepernick, as long as you kneel for us, we’ll stand with you,” Cardi B said to those in the audience and watching at home. “That’s right, I said it!”

People on Twitter loved the show of solidarity from the Afro-Latina rapper.

People were also loving that while she did the show of solidarity, her dress slinked lower and lower, exposing her breast.

Getting a shout out from the “Bodak Yellow” singer is more support than the NFL has given Kaepernick: he remains unsigned after his decision to stand for black lives.

Jared Leto Sends Emotional Message About Suicide At VMAs: ‘You Are Not Alone’

Jared Leto sent a message of hope to those struggling with suicidal ideation at this year’s VMA ceremony: “You are not alone.”

The Oscar-winner, who also serves at the frontman for the rock group 30 Seconds to Mars, paid tribute to musicians Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington, both of whom took their lives this year.

Cornell, the lead singer for Soundgarden and Audioslave, was found in a Detroit hotel room on May 17. Police determined that the 52-year-old’s death was a result of suicide by hanging. Bennington, who was a good friend of Cornell’s, was discovered in his Los Angeles home on July 19. The date would have been Cornell’s 53rd birthday.

Leto, who toured with Bennington, ended a moving eulogy to his friends by sharing words of inspiration to anyone who has thought about taking their own life.

“There is always a way forward,” he said. “Reach out, share your thoughts, do not give up.”

After news of Bennington’s passing hit the Web in July, Leto penned an emotional tribute to the Linkin Park singer on his Twitter page. The 45-year-old referred to Bennington as an “absolute legend,” calling him “delicate, ferocious and always full of emotion.”

“Witnessing his life taught me a lot,” he wrote, “about commitment, about kindness, about hard work, about the pursuit and achievement of dreams, and mostly about love.”

Statistics from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention show that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. The organization estimates that every year, 44,193 Americans take their own lives.

Note: Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact The Trevor Project or Trans Lifeline for support or any questionsespecially if you feel that you’re currently in crisis.

Lorde Didn’t Sing at the VMAs and People are Confused

What is the sound of silence? It might sound something like Lorde’s VMA performance.

During the VMA ceremony, singer Lorde chose to keep her mouth shut and dance around the stage rather than serve live vocals. The choice was controversial, to say the least, and Twitter let their unproblematic fave know that they were not here for it.

At least a few accounts, including Complex, pointed out that Lorde had the flu and couldn’t serve vocals, which is why she danced around the stage.

When Lorde recovers, we hope she can give a performance that will have everyone stanning again.

Fifth Harmony’s VMAs Shade Has People Screaming

This pop foursome just took a shot heard round the world at their former bandmate.

During Fifth Harmony’s VMA performance, the group appeared onstage in puffy silver jackets with five people on stage instead of four, the number of members currently in the group. Before going forward with the performance, one member of the group fell backwards off the stage. Most people on Twitter saw this stunt as serious shade toward former member Camila Cabello, who abruptly left the group to pursue a solo career in December 2016.

People were not only loving the performance, they were here for the not-so-subtle jab at Cabello.

Aside from the healthy dose of shade, people seemed to love Fifth Harmony’s overall vocal performance. Let it be known losing a fourth doesn’t make the harmonies any less sweet.

Shawn Mendes’ VMA Performance Turned Twitter Into Thirst Monsters

What’s that sound you hear? It’s the sound of millions of tumbleweeds rolling around in our dry, dry existences. Because after Shawn Mendes’ performance, a lot of people were very thirsty.

During Mendes’ performance, Twitter erupted with tweets complimenting the singer on everything but his singing.

Live footage of all of Twitter tonight:

Taylor Swift Premieres New Video — And She’s Upset

Taylor Swift caused a stir when she released her new single “Look What You Made Me Do.” She raised questions about what kind of artist she’d be in the future, and earned her fair share of mixed reviews from critics.

The video for the song, which premiered during Sunday’s Video Music Awards, will likely only inspire more confusion if not full-on incredulity. Any video that starts with Taylor crawling out of a grave as a zombie, in full White Walker makeup, can only be controversial.

The major theme of the video centered on the instantly infamous line on the single’s bridge: “I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, ‘cause she’s dead!” During the bridge, a collection of previous Taylor Swift variants clawed at the ostensible New Taylor’s feet, as she hung on what looked to be a glowing T (or was it a cross?).

The collection of alter egos appeared again after the song ended, taking a bow in a line. The video then turns into a hurricane of meta references, from the country-flavored Taylor getting criticized for her surprised faces to the 2009 VMAs Taylor Swift requesting to be excluded from this narrative.

Something tells us, with the level of conversation “Look What You Made Me Do” has been inspiring, that old Taylor won’t be getting excluded from the conversation any time soon.

Paris Jackson Used Her VMA Time to Shut Down White Supremacy

Before presenting Fifth Harmony with the award for Best Pop Video, Paris Jackson used her limited screen time to speak out against white supremacists and other hate groups.

She began her speech by asking the audience to “stand up united as one,” before saying in no uncertain terms that she was not down with the racism currently rearing its ugly head in America.

“We must show these Nazi white supremacist jerks in Charlottesville and all over the country that as a nation, with liberty as our slogan, we have zero tolerance for their violence, their hatred and their discrimination,” Jackson said.

She ended simply with the resistance slogan, “We must resist.”

Earlier in August, white supremacists and white nationalists gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, to protest the removal of a Confederate statute. The protest ended with the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who was killed when James Alex Fields careened his car through anti-fascist protesters.