NPR logo Kanye West Makes Everyone Else At The MTV Video Music Awards Feel Classy


Kanye West Makes Everyone Else At The MTV Video Music Awards Feel Classy

Anyone who seeks advice on how to behave from the MTV Video Music Awards will wind up deranged, baffled, socially isolated, and probably arrested. But last night, Kanye West still managed to make everyone else there look like a collection of Noel Coward characters, so ridiculous was his outraged outburst when Taylor Swift won the award for Best Female Video.

As you can see in the video above, when Swift was in the middle of her acceptance speech, West leaped onto the stage and grabbed her microphone. "Yo Taylor, I'm really happy for you, I'm gonna let you finish," he said. "But Beyonce had one of the best videos of ALL TIME!" And then he climbed down, and the crowd booed, and Swift stood there like she'd gotten the end-of-Carrie treatment until they played her off the stage.

Later in the show, Beyonce Knowles won Video Of The Year (for "Single Ladies," the same video Kanye West was so angry didn't beat Taylor Swift), and she handed the microphone off to Swift to make her belated acceptance speech.

Kanye West addresses the audience after interrupting Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Kanye West's unplanned trip to the stage was ridiculous, even for a ridiculous event. Christopher Polk/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Christopher Polk/Getty Images

It's important not to make buffoonery into outrage — the VMAs are famous for being the national meeting of the Glorious Unified Council Of Acting A Fool. It's not the Oscars, and it's not meant to be, and as tempting as it may be to compare it to recent decorum-related dust-ups taking place in Congress and at the U.S. Open, the fact remains that ... it is the VMAs. When The New York Times states that the awards were "marred" by West's behavior, it raises the question of whether it's really possible to mar a show that tries so hard to mar itself with outsized ... nitwittery, if you'll pardon the expression.

Why anybody cared, and the surprising winner of this battle, after the jump...

But what made this so attention-grabbing was the mismatch between West and Swift. Kanye West is a multiple-Grammy-winning performer famous for shooting his mouth off in settings of all kinds; Taylor Swift is a soft-spoken 19-year-old who is friends with Miley Cyrus. When you're a big-mouth and you get in a tangle with another big-mouth, nobody necessarily thinks less of either one of you. You get in trouble, however, when you're picking on people who aren't even old enough to drink — unlike you.

Kanye West drinks from a bottle and stands with Amber Rose at the MTV Video Music Awards on Septembe

Kanye West enjoys himself with Amber Rose at last night's MTV Video Music Awards. Christopher Polk/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Christopher Polk/Getty Images

It's not as if Kanye West's reputation until now has been built on decorum, so it's probably not going to make much difference to him. Beyonce made herself look classy, and Taylor Swift got a more enthusiastic greeting for her second speech than she ever would have gotten for her first. But the biggest winner, surprisingly enough? Jay Leno! West is scheduled to appear on tonight's premiere episode of The Jay Leno Show, and frankly, this explosion of interest in him couldn't have been timed any better if they'd planned it.



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