Lady Gaga Is Promoting The VMAs, But What On Earth Are They For? Lady Gaga is singing and stripping in a set of VMA promos. But with videos waning and nobody interested in anything except the silly spectacle, why continue to give out awards at all?
NPR logo Lady Gaga Is Promoting The VMAs, But What On Earth Are They For?

Lady Gaga Is Promoting The VMAs, But What On Earth Are They For?

MTV has released three promo clips of Lady Gaga to get you all excited about the Video Music Awards, which are coming on August 28. Thus, the annual question raises its bedazzled head once again: Why do the VMAs exist?

We all understand what happens at the VMAs now, and the answer is: something funny and dumb. Last year, it was Taylor Swift's hilariously patronizing barefoot tribute to her own heart of gold and her ability to forgive Kanye West. For what? Well, for the previous year, where he jumped on stage and interrupted her during her acceptance speech, thus placing "I'm-a let you finish" in the lexicon for all time. But it's absolutely unfair to blame the spectacle-centered VMAs on Kanye. This is what they've always been about. The Grammys are about the performances, but the VMAs are about the stuff around the performances.

This is where Madonna rolled around on the stage singing "Like A Virgin" and freaked many parents out forever. It's where Howard Stern appeared as Fartman. It's where Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson kissed. And where Madonna and Britney Spears kissed.

The headline coming out of the VMAs is almost never about who won. It's about who acted out.

It's easy to get why MTV needs a spectacle; why they need the show. It's just not clear why it needs to have awards in it. Why not just rename the whole thing "MTV Showcase 2011," skip the awards that nobody really cares about, and get on with the performances and the kissing and the backstage fights? You can still have people making weird and inappropriate speeches; just make it like a banquet where various people get to make "remarks." Lady Gaga can still show up wearing whatever she wants and then change her clothes six times and wind up dressed like an Oscar Meyer wiener or whatever she has in mind.

But it would go so much faster if they didn't stop in the middle to grasp at a purpose — a purpose that requires pretending to care about music videos.

So come on, MTV! Enjoy having no purpose! Embrace it! Be ridiculous! Branch out by making some classical musicians throw down! Can a violist win a fistfight against a cellist? I MUST KNOW! Call in some jazz artists and get them to perform while dressed as scantily clad Star Wars characters! More spectacle! Less alleged dignity! Free Lady Gaga!