Ten questions after watching the VMAs last night from section 207 of the fabulous Forum in Inglewood, California:
1. Does nobody want to host this show anymore?
The absence of a host made the Video Music Awards feel even more random than usual – an uneven collection of performances and awards that were ultimately just warm-up acts for Beyoncé. But after Queen B performed a bravura 16-minute set (not coincidentally, one minute longer than Justin Timberlake's set last year) and received the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award from Jay Z and Blue Ivy, there wasn't even anybody around to say, "Thank you, good night!" Since the show wasn't supposed to end for another 15 minutes or so, the audience milled around, confused, before heading for the exits.
2. Is there any job more thankless than "fan wrangler"?
(The first rule, according to MTV: Clap with your hands over your head.) As pieces of the elaborate stage moved, the fans were herded around by production assistants using the same red wands that the parking lot attendants were using outside to direct traffic; it seemed like a small miracle that nobody got crushed. Excerpts from the speeches of the designated fan wrangler: "Guys, step away from the stage for a minute, we're going to test the CO2…I don't care if you don't like a song – this is L.A., we fake it. If you don't know how to dance, fake it."
3. Can we all follow Jim Carrey's lead and start pronouncing the award "vuh-ma"?
4. What was the deal with the Robin Williams tribute?
He wasn't particularly associated with MTV, although he appeared in a Bobby McFerrin video and showed up now and then to promote a movie. If they were hell-bent on having a moment for him (which is mystifying given how MTV generally wants to drop anyone outside of their current demo into a Sarlacc pit), why not dig up an old clip of Alan Hunter interviewing him about Moscow on the Hudson?
5. Doesn't MTV have somebody to write presenter banter who knows something about music?
Jennifer Lopez dutifully read a scripted line claiming that Iggy Azalea was the first artist to have simultaneous number one and two singles since the Beatles. Incorrect, unless you add the further qualification that it had to be the artist's first two singles. Otherwise, here are a few counter-examples: Nelly ("Dilemma" and "Hot in Herre"), the Bee Gees ("Night Fever" and "Stayin' Alive"), Puff Daddy ("I'll Be Missing You" and "Mo Money Mo Problems") and perhaps most to the point, Ja Rule ("Always on Time" and "Ain't it Funny" – the latter of which was a collaboration with none other than Jennifer Lopez). Apparently our nation's mission to forget J-Lo's musical career has been a huge success, reaching even her. Oh, and whomever wrote the line about Gwen Stefani being "the true queen of L.A. punk rock:" just go ahead and clean out your desk.
6. In his hospital bed, was Suge Knight watching the VMAs or the Simpsons marathon?
7. Could Nicki Minaj have had even worse luck?
Yes. In addition to the anaconda that bit one of her backup dancers in rehearsal, and the wardrobe malfunction for her guest spot in "Bang Bang," she almost went the wrong way when leaving the stage after her performance of "Anaconda" – before she beat a hasty retreat, she was about to cross the main stage right in front of Jessie J. Overheard in the crowd after that opening number, a breathlessly mangled piece of gossip: "Did you hear about the anaconda eating someone?"
8. What was more random, Lorde winning in the rock category or her cursing during her acceptance speech?
9. Who would have guessed that Miley Cyrus would be the artist to have a Sacheen Littlefeather moment?
Borrowing a move from Marlon Brando (who sent Littlefeather to collect his Oscar for The Godfather so she could give a speech about Native Americans), Cyrus sent Jesse (surname unknown) in her stead when she won Video of the Year, so he could discuss the plight of runaways and homeless youth. The teleprompter was soon flashing the red message "Please wrap up," but Jesse continued, with Jimmy Fallon holding a microphone for him, and nobody hustled him off. The Forum crowd cheered loudest when he mentioned "Miley's Facebook page," although it was unclear whether they were expressing approval of Cyrus or Facebook.
10. What, no Weird Al?