For her opening monologue, VMAs host Katy Perry joked about the world burning and costumes from the Handmaid's Tale being high fashion. Instead of poking fun at the state of the world like Perry did, Paris Jackson, the first presenter of the evening, took a moment to get serious.
Before presenting the award for Best Pop Music video, Jackson delivered an earnest and inspiring invective against the wave of white nationalist movements in cities across the country — complete with a not-too-shabby impression of President Trump.
Standing before the crowd, Jackson said, "I'm seeing a lot of love and light here tonight. A lot of diversity and a lot of potential power. If we were to all put our voices together, imagine the difference we would make. If we were to all stand up, united, as one, our impact — it would be Huge. Believe me. Huge."
Naturally, the phrase, "Believe me — huge," was delivered with President Trump's signature accent and exaggerative flair. Shawn Mendes, who was all of us at that moment, nodded along to Jackson's speech with his hand on his heart.
"That's not fake news," Jackson continued. "So let's leave here tonight remembering that we must show these Nazi, white supremacists jerks in Charlottesville and all over the country that a nation, with liberty as our slogan, has zero tolerance for their violence, their hatred and their discrimination."
Then, in perhaps the best segue of VMAs history, Jackson ended her speech with, "We must resist. And now, the nominees for Best Pop Video!"
As the daughter of Michael Jackson, Paris Jackson was practically born atop a platform, a la Simba. But she hasn't always been comfortable with her place in the public eye. In an interview with Teen Vogue, Jackson spoke about why, at age 19, she's finally decided to lend her voice to the activist causes she believes in.
"I honestly used to have no motivation whatsoever to be in the public eye; it scared me...After a long time of thinking, I started to really see the kind of impact I already have on people, how I was born with a platform, and I didn’t want to waste it. There are so many people who work their entire lives to create a platform and mine was just handed to me....Why not use it for something important?"
Tonight, by squeezing in a powerful speech against white nationalists amid the fun and silliness of the VMAs, Jackson made evident her commitment to using her voice for good. Even though she's only the first presenter of the night, she's already won the award for Best VMAs Presenter in our hearts.
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