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Why Does the MTV Video Music Awards Exist Anymore?

The 2018 MTV Video Music Awards will air this Monday night on MTV. The legendary pop culture phenomenon is taking place at Radio City Music Hall for the 12th time, with “Bodak Yellow” rapper Cardi B leading all other nominees with 12 nominations.

As a music lover, furthermore a music video lover, I struggle to find any sort of reason as to why this network continues to air the VMA’s when they have veered so far from their original concept for over a decade now.

Sure, its great to see LGBTQ representation at the VMA’s this year as Hayley Kiyoko will take the stage and Amanda Stenberg is listed as one of the presenters. And yeah, there will be a bevy of hot dudes there from Shawn Mendes to Lenny Kravitz.  It will also be a momentous evening to watch gay icon Jennifer Lopez take home the coveted Video Vanguard Award, but that’s beside the point.

This is a network that is now known for shows like Teen Mom, Catfish and Jersey Shore. None of these programs has anything to do with music videos, yet each of them dominates their airwaves as opposed to what music videos used to do for so many years.

It’s a frustrating thought process for me, as MTV (which doesn’t even go by Music Television anymore) has had thousands of complaints lodged against them for the lack of music they play. When the network was launched over thirty years ago, it was designed to highlight a ton of artists and the music videos they created to expand on their creativity for their audience. That has shifted to the likes of YouTube and social media for artists to debut their newest videos, which has had a varying amount of success that relies solely on the total amount of views it gets.

Views shouldn’t matter though when it comes to the art that is the music video. A lot of iconic music artists wouldn’t be who they are today if this concept wasn’t around. Let’s name some: Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Spice Girls… the list goes on and on and on. A lot of the times we think about their music videos on top of the songs they’ve created which injects a major memory into our heads in the process. That doesn’t really exist that much anymore, as several songs that top the charts nowadays don’t really have videos created for it. The pandemonium that once made the music video a major factoid of someone’s career is now in the past.

The power of the music video is one that shouldn’t be undervalued. Madonna received much controversy for her video “Justify My Love” back in the early 90’s, so much so that MTV banned it for its provocative content. She then released it as a video single, and the song shot up to number one on the Billboard Hot 100. She had a similar incident when Pepsi dropped her as their spokeswoman after the release of her video “Like a Prayer.” She later won the Viewer’s Choice award for that song.

That sort of controversy has gone the way of the dodo bird, as videos aren’t really known to grab the consumers eye like it used to. If they do create any sort of chaos, it relies on the gossipier type side of the entertainment industry, like Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” which got people talking about who she was dissing (Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, etc) as opposed to the art value of said video.

Over the past decade, the VMA’s itself hasn’t really created any sort of memorable moments that are still known to this day. Miley Cyrus pushing the boundaries with her performance on stage next to Robin Thicke is one, but it came off as forced with a very negative reception compared to a positive one.

Long gone are the days where the show’s water cooler moments became the biggest part of your next day chat. We are talking about Diana Ross grabbing Lil Kim’s boob, Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley making out on stage, Madonna kissing Britney, Chris Rock’s incredible comedy set and so on and so forth. The shock value from those and then some are still in the thoughts of people who were old enough to remember them, and at this point, it’s a foregone conclusion that those types will never happen again.

This isn’t a dig to the younger generations and what they are trying to put out nor is it their fault. MTV is partially to blame for the shift in what the industry is now, where artists are barely scraping by due to the massive amounts of piracy that is out there on the internet. The music video itself was a major extra for many of these talented groups, artists and bands for many years that only helped them sell millions and millions of records.

Why it continues to be awarded on a network that never plays these anymore is baffling to me, and it makes me wonder as to when MTV will actually stop doing this show out of respect for a waning industry.

This was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject.