Youth Culture Window

The Moonmen Are Back!

There’s only one place where live broadcasts of girl-on-girl lip locks and rampant use of the bleep button interrupt celebrities who literally fight one another, make sexual gestures, and tell dirty jokes while “thanking God” in the process: The MTV Video Music Awards.

What’s a VMA?
The MTV Video Music Awards show, known as the VMAs, is one of the most hyped nights in all of entertainment. This coming Sunday night, September 7, at 9:00pm EST, the who’s who of Hollywood and Music City will gather in Los Angeles to celebrate and judge the musical accomplishments of the past year.

The VMAs go back – way back! – all the way back to when MTV actually aired music videos instead of their extremely questionable and pop culture-defining, reality TV shows. In 1984, MTV launched the VMAs as an alternative to the Grammys, and over the last 24 years, it has come into its own as a highly anticipated awards show with winners receiving the coveted “Moonman” award, the iconic symbol of the influential network.

The Good, The Bad, and The Really, Really Ugly
To put it mildly, the show has had a contentious past. On several occasions, including last year, fightshave broken out between celebrities. Reckless mid-show antics by rock stars have been known to land the celebs in jail. And comments by the hosts, presenters, and winners must be carefully censored for content, which usually results in tons of bleeps heard during the show’s airing.

I guess NASCAR fans and VMA viewers have one thing in common: they’re both looking for the next wreck.

But it’s these incidents, onstage, behind the scenes, and sometimes in the crowd, that make up some of the most “memorable moments” in the show’s history. For instance, very few people can remember who won the top prize of “Video of the Year” in 2003, but almost everybody recalls watching the kiss seen round the world between Britney Spears and Madonna.

The 25th Anniversary
MTV makes no bones about trying to outdo themselves every year. But, what must this year’s show, the 25th Anniversary of the awards ceremony, encompass if it is to draw more than the 7 million viewers from last year?

Here’s their game plan: First, secure a cool venue. The show will return to LA this year and take over the Paramount Pictures Studio. Secondly, hire a host that will be talked about for weeks to come. This year, MTV has invited the sexy and controversial British comedian Russell Brand to host the affair. It won’t be the first time Brand has worked for MTV, but it just may be the first time Brand works for MTV without being fired. Thirdly, invite the hottest musical artists in for live concerts, and turn ‘em loose. This year, Lil Wayne, the Jonas Brothers, Kid Rock, Pink, Rihanna, Paramore, and others will take the stage. Fourthly, offer every viewer a back stage pass into the goings on behind the scenes. (Now we can finally see what Kid Rock does to warm up for a show.) Finally, let fans…for the first time ever…help pick the nominees and the winners.

And the Nominees Are…
This year’s VMAs are broken down into several different categories of music videos. They include:

Best Rock Video
Linkin Park – Shadow of the Day
Slipknot – Psychosocial
Paramore – crushcrushcrush
Foo Fighters – The Pretender
Fall Out Boy – Beat It

Video of the Year
Jonas Brothers – Burning Up
Chris Brown – Forever
Pussycat Dolls – When I Grow Up
Britney Spears – Piece of Me
The Ting Tings – Shut Up and Let Me Go

Best Dancing In A Video
Christ Brown – Forever
Danity Kane – Damaged
Madonna – Four Minutes
Ne-Yo – Closer
Pussycat Dolls – When I Grow Up

Best Hip Hop Video
Mary J. Blige – Just Fine
Lupe Fiasco – Superstar
Flo-Rida – Low
Lil Wayne – Lollipop
Kanye West – Homecoming

Best Pop Video
Danity Kane – Damaged
Jonas Brothers – Burning Up
Panic at the Disco – Nine in the Afternoon
Britney Spears – Piece of Me
Tokio Hotel – Ready, Set, Go!

Best Male Video
Flo-Rida – Low
Chris Brown – With You
Lil Wayne – Lollipop
T.I. – No Matter What
Usher – Love In This Club

Best Female Video
Mariah Carey – Touch My Body
Katy Perry – I Kissed A Girl
Rihanna – Take A Bow
Jordin Sparks – No Air
Britney Spears – Piece of Me

Best New Artist
Miley Cyrus – 7 Things
Katy Perry – I Kissed A Girl
Jordin Sparks – No Air
Taylor Swift – Teardrops On My Guitar
Tokio Hotel – Ready, Set , Go!

Should You Watch?
Without a doubt…YES!

There are a couple of reasons why strongly suggests you watch the VMAs. For starters, it’s a crash course in youth culture. Rather than watching hours and hours of MTV’s programming throughout the year to get a feel for the quality of entertainment available to teens, you can see all you need to see in one evening. Secondly, many of your students will watch the show. As unfortunate as this is, at least you will have a strong point of entry into their post-awards show conversation.

Network executives definitely want to leave an impression on viewers with the VMAs’ 25th Anniversary. That impression is guaranteed to affect millions of teenagers, so tune in to see what lines MTV crosses as they try to up the ante one more time. Just prepare to be offended.

Then, check back with us on Monday, September 8th, for Jonathan’s annual review of the event and the potential effects it will have on kids and our ministry to them. Here are Jonathan’s past recaps of the 2006 MTV VMA’s & Teen Choice Awardsthe 2007 MYV VMA’s & Teen Choice Awards, and the 2008 MTV Movie AwardsYou may need to be sitting down.

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David R. Smith

David R. Smith

David R. Smith is the author of several books including Christianity... It's Like This and speaks to parents and leaders across the U.S. David is a 15-year youth ministry veteran, now a senior pastor, who specializes in sharing the gospel, and equipping others do the same. David provides free resources to anyone who works with teenagers on his website, David resides with his wife and son in Tampa, Florida.

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