Flashback: 2002 MTV Video Awards

So much has passed since August 29, 2002, the night MTV aired its annual Video Awards ceremony live around the world.  This short article about the broadcast was written in consideration for The Hamilton Spectator’s YourPlace page, which used to be showcased prominently in its entertainment section, but was never published.  It has never been seen before.
Michael Jackson embarrassed himself during the show by misinterpreting a kind gesture from MTV.  Since then, he’s embarrassed himself even further.  There was the custody battle with his ex-wife, Debbie Rowe, the dangled-baby-from-the-balcony incident, the inappropriate sleepovers with children and, worst of all, the infamous molestation criminal trial.  (I’ll never understood how he avoided jail time after the revelations in that case.  Even Bill Maher stopped defending the guy after that.  Like myself, he had long given the guy the benefit of the doubt.  No longer.)
After the trial, he went to Bahrain.  Now, he wants to get back to work.  He’s been accepting a few awards of late and is back recording with Will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas.  The eccentric prick should be rotting in jail instead.
When I read over my old piece today, I thought about how things have also changed for other performers I wrote about 4 years ago.  Here’s another example. 
When Avril Lavigne became popular in 2002, she had this “anti-Britney”, tough girl image which was completely transparent.  She was a cute girl from a Christian home in Canada who wanted to rock and yet, she was nowhere close to being cutting edge.  (She didn’t even know how to pronounce David Bowie’s last name properly.  Sounds like the knife, sweetie.) 
During the 2002 MTV Awards she won the Best New Artist In A Video award and I noted how she didn’t exactly wanted to be embraced by Kelly Clarkson who was co-presenting.  Later on, Lavigne ended up co-writing Clarkson’s hit single, Breakaway, the debut release from her second album of the same name.  I’m sure she has no problem hugging somebody now who made money for her.
Her image has also dramatically changed.  Now, instead of pretending to be looking for a fight while wearing men’s ties over her T-shirts, she’s emphasizing her femininity by appearing on catwalks and magazine covers looking glamourous as hell. 
Tough girl, my ass. 
Then, there’s Eminem.  Even though he behaved abominably at the award ceremony, he’s since gotten a sense of humour, thanks to Jimmy Kimmel.  He taped a bit for the chubby comic’s late night talk show (they inhaled helium during breaks from their one-on-one basketball game) and he’s even done crank calls for the Comedy Central puppet show, Crank Yankers.  One wonders why that Eminem didn’t show up 4 years ago.    
And then, there’s Guns N’ Roses.  They made a surprise appearance playing a 3-song medley that was extraordinarily underwhelming.  At that point in time, it had been 9 years since the band released an album.  As of now, it’s 13.  The legendary Chinese Democracy was supposed to be out this week but was never shipped.  Lead singer Axl Rose has been working on this album for so long that by the time it finally gets released (and you know it will someday) one wonders if the collective reaction will be anything other than withdrawn indifference.
The band’s getting good reviews for their concert tour, when they actually do play (they really should change the name to “Guns N’ Cancellations”), but could the album restore Axl’s lustre?  It remains to be seen.
At any event, here’s how I saw the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards.  Enjoy.
By Dennis Earl
Watching the MTV Video Music Awards this year was once again a bizarre experience. It’s as if September 11th never happened and the petty, overexposed, self-absorbed rulers of the music world continued to embarrass themselves and the audience with their astounding stupidity.

Let us count the examples:

Michael Jackson’s Ego Gets The Better Of Him

What was supposed to be a birthday present from the network to the ex-King Of Pop immediately turned into a self-aggrandizing moment of embarrassment. Britney Spears presented the increasingly freakish-looking singer with a treble clef trophy wrapped in a red bow along with a giant cake adding rather dumbly that she felt Jackson was the “Artist of the Millennium”. Jackson, easily the biggest egomaniac in show business, took it to heart and made a silly acceptance speech truly believing he was the best thing to come out of the previous 1000 years. MTV was simply honouring Jackson’s 44th birthday. He wasn’t the Artist of the Millennium. Jackson must have realized that ahead of time. So, why did he read all those names off a piece of paper? “Thank you,” was all he needed to say. Oops…he blew it again.

Avril Lavigne Snubs Kelly Clarkson

The rebellious teen rocker from Napanee, Ontario showed her true colours when she walked on stage to accept her Best New Artist In A Video trophy. Presented by the 3 judges and 2 finalists of American Idol, Lavigne slinked away from an attempted embrace by the adorable Texan, Kelly Clarkson, much to the contestant’s amazement. Rock and roll may be all about speaking your mind with boundless passion and having contempt for rules and authority, but when someone attempts to embrace you, no matter who they are and what they mean to you, you embrace them back. Ed The Sock might have been pleased by her “realness”, but it was plainly rude and un-Canadian. I can’t wait until someone avoids hugging her.

Eminem And His Absent Sense Of Humour

I admire Eminem a lot for what he tries to do in his music. He’s one of the few performers out there right now constantly challenging listeners with an intelligent, often abrasive and disagreeable viewpoint. But when he killed a potentially good comic moment by refusing to play along with Triumph, The Insult Comic Dog, who was slaying ‘em with his Moby schtick, he came across as too-cool-for-the-room. Interesting how he was brave enough to dis Moby from the on-stage podium when he accepted an award, but not from a few rows away.

Everybody Who Thanked God

I don’t know about you but I’m really sick of performers thanking God for winning a stupid award. “Thank you father,” said a closed-eyed Mary J. Blige when she won for Best R&B Video. Why? What did he do? The idea that an invisible deity somehow, despite the irrefutable laws of science, made damn sure Ms. Blige won that coveted Moonman smacks of the worst kind of arrogance. You were voted by MTV, honey. Just say thank you and walk off the stage. You too, Wacko Jacko. And you didn’t even win anything, dumbass.

Guns N Roses’ Embarrassing Show Closing Medley

Time has not been kind to Axl Rose’s voice. At the end of the broadcast, Axl and his new bandmates (who looked like rejects from Marilyn Manson and Slipknot) drove a stake through the heart of the band’s legacy by butchering 3 numbers spliced uncomfortably together in a medley, two of which were classics from Appetite For Destruction. Axl, who resembled Dexter Holland of The Offspring circa 1994 with his dread locks, clearly was out of vocal shape. Gone were the days when he was an intense, magnetic performer. Now, he simply can’t hit the notes like he used to. The performance, meant to be a big surprise, was a huge disappointment. For Axl to call his new band, Guns N Roses, demeans the original Gunners, none of whom remain in the band, who were something special. If he was out to prove he’s still relevant 14 years after he first became famous, he just became extinct.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
5:56 p.m.
Published in: on November 15, 2006 at 6:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

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