The MTV Video Music Awards are always built on spectacle. Exhibit A: The 2003 Britney-Spears-and-Madonna make-out moment. Only to be topped by Miley Cyrus a decade later when she twerked away her Hannah Montana persona to Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines."
But the VMAs felt different this year. 2017 has been marred by devastating natural and socio-political disasters, and music has served as a refuge and escape for many during otherwise tumultuous times. The run-of-show reflected that; Logic took the stage to give a voice to the mental health movement, Kendrick Lamar, a powerful force for championing racial politics, performed and won the biggest award of the night, and Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer's mother delivered a speech about fighting for social justice.
These moving performances and tributes were scattered throughout a show hosted by Katy Perry, who spent time performing in support of Hillary Clinton during her presidential run, and has spoken out before in support of equality in all forms. Throughout the show, Katy made several Trump-related comments, including announcing to the audience that “this [show] is one election where the popular vote actually matters.” She also insinuated that the “world is on fire,” and that we’re all inching closer and closer to a world looking like The Handmaid’s Tale.
Despite the clear political undercurrent of these lines, Perry seemed to make these comments in jest, sandwiching them between jokes about what outfit she should choose for the night, Game of Thrones, and walking on the moon. And while I appreciate that Perry spoke up, I wish she had opted for another platform. Namely, I wish she spoke about these important issues in her music, performances, or music videos.
After lending her song “Roar” to Hillary’s campaign, Katy made it clear that she supported Hillary, female rights, and equality for all. This is wonderful and commendable. But, to me, it seems counterintuitive that the same person who holds those values so dear also penned a song in 2017 year called “Bon Appetit” about cunnilingus, and chose to perform "Swish Swish," an alleged clap-back at Taylor Swift and a commentary on their ongoing feud, at the VMAs.
Don't get me wrong, I’m all for the catchy, light pop music and a pro-sex message. But, in 2017, I’d love to see Katy translate some of her political and social passions into her music — the loudest megaphone she has.
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