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MTV's Video Music Awards 2000: If I Only Had a Brain -- Munchkins Make Triumphant Return to Screen by Bill Ribas

 
Destiny's Child
Destiny's Child: winner of Best R&B Video
MTV Awards, Radio City Music Hall
September 7, 2000, Photo © 2000 MTV
  
September 2000 — How much did the MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City suck? Like a ten-dollar whore during Fleet Week? Worse? Achh, lasses and lads, witness this slice of horror. The setting: Midway through the show, Moby and Pink take the podium to announce the Best Rap Video. "But first," Moby says, "I have to do this," and tapes a Gore/Lieberman sticker to the front of the stand. Pink chimes in, "Okay, uh, I would vote for Jim Carrey." Asking yourself whether this was scripted is as pointless as knowing the caloric content of a Big Mac.

Let's start with the Wayans Brothers. Yeah, there's no doubt they're funny, but here they seemed out of place, treading water between staying on the scripted path and striking out with the improv. As a result, they often talked over each other; their timing was off, and they ended up about as funny as lukewarm bath water. Their film pieces, however, were hilarious, with their takeoff on tennis stars the Williams sisters, or the real kicker, a parody of Macy Gray's video, complete with an Afro bush of bright red pubic hair.

 Sisqo
Sisqo: winner of Best Hip-Hop Video
MTV Awards, Radio City Music Hall
September 7, 2000, Photo © 2000 MTV
Perhaps though, the overall structure was to blame. Here's a rough example: The Wayans would do a line or two of comedy, then introduce the award presenters, who would walk the catwalk to the center of the projected stage. Then, the presenters would read their jokes off the teleprompter (which apparently had a problem all night since everyone stuttered worse than John on the Stern show). Following that, a video clip of some random twenty-something was shown, where the person would spew words tangentially related to the award category (or maybe not), after which the nominees' clips would spin past, and then back to the presenters, who, now over at the podium, would fumble with the envelope that had the winner's name, and then the announcement. Such a protracted procedure made it unbearable, and as always, winners' speeches were succinct, thanking God, management, the fans, MTV, and, in the case of *NSYNC, their lawyer.

If not the structure then, perhaps the core is at fault. After all, when MTV started years ago, videos were plentiful, like tourists in Times Square. Now, ironic as it may seem, spotting a video on MTV is like finding money on the sidewalk; you know it's there somewhere, but it's an effort, and may not be worth it. And, once again ironically, the MTV awards are self-authenticating – since they're virtually the only place to see videos, they may as well create awards for their own programming, which is basically content supplied by someone else. And, ironically once more, on the show, instead of seeing the videos (for the benefit of those without cable), you see performers perform live. And are the awards for the video, the song, or both, and who votes on this?

But I digress. Let's look at some of the highs and lows.

  • Janet Jackson opens the show, in a huge, Hollywood Squares-type rig (she was in the center square), which descended so she and her dance crew could get the aerobics underway. All acts following employ similar aerobic dancers, who jitter and shake like bacon frying in a pan on a Saturday morning.

  • Wrestler The Rock and self-proclaimed "stone cold pimp" Kid Rock present the Best Dance Video to Jennifer Lopez, who, in her inimitable chameleon approach to fashion, now has something of a box-cutter bitch-je ne sais quoi look.

  • Ricky Martin, former heartthrob, enters sporting an Incredible Hulk hairstyle, and looks like an out-of-work Gap model.

  • There was a strangeness to the Napster issue. As presenters, Carson Daly is paired with Shawn Fanning (the rascal who started Napster), and later on, a filmed skit features Lars Ulrich of Metallica and Sean Wayans, where Lars, after cleaning out a frat boy's room, declares, "Sharing's only fun when it's not your stuff." Strangely enough, Lars is greeted with applause and boos when he introduces Blink 182 to end the show.

     Britney Spears
    Britney Spears
    MTV Awards, Radio City
    9/7/00, Photo © 2000 MTV
  • The Red Hot Chili Peppers receive the Video Vanguard Award, after performing "Californication," and Anthony, I love you, but you missed some notes like Buckner missed Mookie's grounder in 1986 at Shea. Stranger still, after winning the Vanguard, the Peppers go on to win Best Direction in a Video. Redundancy, or coincidence?

  • As Limp Bizkit accepts the award for Best Rock Video, Tim Commerford of Rage Against the Machine climbs the sculpture behind the podium, and security forces mass at the base, wondering what to do. This act interrupts the acceptance speech, the introduction for the next award (international winners – like anyone knows what or who those bands are), and, after a commercial break, the next introduction. This was definitely the highlight of the show, though I'm sure the bulk of it was edited out so viewers at home saw next to nothing.

  • Continued plugs throughout the show remind viewers at home there was still time to vote for the Viewer's Choice. Yeah, that made sense.

  • Mark Wahlberg, saying he didn't have any idea why he was at the awards show but he may as well plug his movie like Jim Carrey did, unfortunately, forgets to do so.

  • Whitney Houston shows up, wearing blue leather pants tighter than a boy-scout tourniquet. Looks lovely, but out of place.

  • The Wayans do a bit, holding up glow sticks for those who are no longer with us, including MC Hammer, the Spice Girls, Vanilla Ice, and others. The bit itself died a thousand deaths (and foretells possible glow sticks for the Wayans themselves if they keep this stuff up).

  • Blink 182 ends the show, with midgets/dwarves/little people/the vertically challenged hanging from wires, bouncing off trampolines, riding scooters, and finishing in a chorus line.

  • There were more moments of interest, to be sure, but the last blast of irony came as the Wayans bid goodnight, on this night when performers were given awards for their creative work, by plugging their forthcoming album. There's no accounting for taste, particularly on MTV.


Some of the winners:

*NSYNC: Best Pop Video, Best Choreography, Best Viewer's Choice

Eminem: Best Video of the Year, Best Male Video, Best Rap Video (with Dr. Dre)

Macy Gray: Best New Artist in a Video, Best Cinematography

Bjork: Best Special Effects, Best Breakthrough Video

Aaliyah: Best Female Video, Best Video from a Film,

Sisqo: Best Hip-Hop Video

Jennifer Lopez: Best Dance Video

Red Hot Chili Peppers: Best Direction, Best Art Direction

Aimee Mann: Best Editing

Destiny's Child: Best R&B Video


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