Best of the Evening: Kanye West
For all his accomplishments, Kanye West went ahead and turned the acceptance speech into an art form. Being celebrated as a pioneer of visual art — the first Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award winner to work almost exclusively in the YouTube era — is a validation of everything Kanye has worked for and complained about and drunkenly argued on MTV. His 13-minute acceptance was a mix of public therapy, Louie C.K. routine, political rant and stump speech. The most human hip-hop star stood there, silent and let America see tons of emotions cross his face. He got existential about the concept of award shows ("I don’t understand how they get five people who worked their entire life [together] . . . and have the opportunity to be considered a loser") and announced his run for president. The man being celebrated as a visual vanguard did it all in a T-shirt.