A night of performances and speeches promoting unity, shedding light on poignant subjects including mental health awareness, body image and suicide.
Kendrick Lamar kick started the show, playing shocking news footage of unjustified police brutality interspersed with FOX news commentary before delivering an audacious and fiery performance. The 30 year old American rapper and songwriter, fulfilled the audience’s wishes of an energetic night with his lyrically rich verses alongside stunt performers leaping through flames. Lamar’s talent throughout this year has been successfully recognised, which was proved through him winning six awards, including video of the year for ‘HUMBLE.’
The night was heavily dominated by empowering political statements starting with the nomination categories which were mixed gender. Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, made a respectable appearance on stage, paying tribute to her daughter who was killed during a protest against a far-right march in Charlottesville, Virginia. Her daughter Heather was a civil right activist who believed that everyone needed to make a stand for peace, as is evident through her Facebook cover photo that reads “if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention”. On stage Susan Bro announced a foundation in her daughter’s name. A non-profit organisation that will help fund scholarships in educating people, her mother reminds the millions of viewers watching that joining the foundation will prove that “Heather never walked alone.”
Another powerful moment came when Robert Wright Lee, spoke out against racism, “American’s original sin”. There was a similar plea for acceptance from Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris Jackson. Voicing her opinion to the world, Paris stated the importance of unity: “If we were all able to stand up united as one, our impact would be huge.” Her discussion quickly lead to her hatred for white supremacists, she went on to state that: "We as a nation with liberty as our slogan - we have zero tolerance for their violence, their hatred and their discrimination. We must resist." A huge applause roared from the crowds in cohesive agreement.
MTV welcomed transgender military members to the event after Donald Trump announced on Wednesday the 26th of July 2017 that they would no longer be permitted to serve; an arbitrary decision to humiliate transgender American’s. The MTV president, Chris McCarthy fought back against the policy stating that: “Any patriot who is putting their own life at risk to fight for our freedom and stand for equality is a hero at MTV, and to young people everywhere,” The majority of acts refrained from mocking President Donal Trump directly, instead inadvertently criticised his policies. Katy Perry, who campaigned for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, made a purposeful jibe toward Mr trump: "Listen, guys, this is one election where the popular vote actually matters... so vote online, but hurry up, before some random Russian pop star wins!"
Rapper Logic and singers Alessia Cara and Khalid had their song 1-800-273-8255, named after the US suicide hotline introduced by Kesha. Mental health talk was encouraged, as Kesha made a candid introduction on the bravery it takes for a person to talk about the struggle of suicidal thoughts. She began with: “It has been said that if you knew who walked beside you, you could never experience fear or doubt again, every so often a rare and important song and video comes along that lets us know how true that is." She said that the video for the song, which came out of a partnership between Logic, Alessia Cara, Khalid, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, brought her to tears.
In a similar manner Pop star Pink used her time on stage to discuss androgyny and body image. After receiving the Video Vanguard Award from Ellen DeGeneres, she commanded the audience to become involved in her speech about her daughter. Willow, Pink’s six year old daughter had come home one evening from school and told her mother that she was “the ugliest girl in school”. Pink was outraged and had made a PowerPoint that exact night, showing Willow her favourite and most inspiring artists who didn’t listen to any hate.
Names on the PowerPoint included iconic artists such as David Bowie, Annie Lenox and Prince who she says “live their truth, are probably made fun of every day of their life, and carry on and wave their flag.” In the list she also included herself and the problems that she has faced with social media for being too masculine. She recalls the conversation between her daughter and herself on stage. As seen in the Video below.
The MTV VMAs were a wonderful showcase this year of human diversity and we believe that it is absolutely vital that all artists should encourage individuality and talent. Allowing music to become a platform for change. We hope to see more artists in the future using their status to promote unity and equality.
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