By Hannah van Teylingen and Laylaa Edross
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 10 of VARSITY News.
Covid-19 has transformed public events due to social distancing protocols and regulations around the world. Fashion weeks have been postponed, music concerts were attended by socially distanced guests in their own private boxes and celebrities have donned masks with ballgowns while attending the latest movie premiers. However, that did not stop the distinguished VMAs from being another hit and a pivotal event in itself.
Hosted by Keke Palmer, who also made history by being the first woman of color to host the event solo, it was a night of celebration for music lovers but also one of much-needed reflection around the societal injustices occurring over the last few months. “Enough is enough” and “music has that power” to bring us together were just a few key phrases Palmer used in her opening monologue to highlight the most recent Black Lives Matter movement that has been on everyone’s minds alongside the pandemic. A tribute to Black Panther icon Chadwick Boseman, who died last month, was a perfect touch to kick off the night.
No crowds could attend the event, causing the show to resemble an eerie game simulator with the use of green screens, projectors and fans cheering to create the atmosphere in the background. Watching it felt surreally strange. It looked far too staged and far too organized considering its drama-filled past. Remember Kanye interrupting Taylor Swift onstage? Welcome to the 2009 VMAs.
As if the holographs and virtual stages weren’t odd enough, various artists performed all over various locations in New York City, with Lady Gaga singing through several extravagant masks throughout the night. Gaga went on to win the famous Tricon Award, with The Weeknd winning Video of the Year and Best R&B Video. Ariana Grande swept through numerous categories with her wins, such as Song of the Year for her hit Rain on Me, and BTS also reigned supreme.
This year’s VMAs was a peculiar one to say the least, but the performances were still phenomenal. Hopefully in a year’s time, we will be watching jaw-dropping drama and in-person chaos just a few meters away from our favorite artists. It was still an event that joined musicians together, allowing them to be deservedly awarded for their work. Most importantly, it was a night of reflection on the society we currently find ourselves living in and how using music, art and activism may bring about some form of change.