Scoot Blog: What the MTV Video Music Awards tell us about a young generation!
by Scoot,posted Aug 26 2013 7:51PM
Since the 1960’s, the music and fashion that define each decade seems to reach mass appeal status, not in the year the new decade begins - 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010 – but rather in the third and fourth year of each decade.
The collection of the music, the fashions and the general attitude that dominated the MTV Video Music Awards 2013 seemed to suggest the pop culture trends that will define this decade from 2010 to 2020. And if society has been concerned that the vulgar and violent direction of music will continue to evolve and define the future – I suggest the MTV VMS’s 2013 delivered some encouraging news!
Missing from this year’s Video Music Awards was a rebellious crassness that has been a dominant memory from past VMA shows. There were a few ‘bleeps’ and MTV showed great constraint in presenting a show that fit the tone of this year’s star acts.
There are so many adjectives to describe Justin Timberlake – let me try to limit them to a few: an amazing singing and dancing talent, trendsetter, classy and here’s an adjective not often used to describe music’s top pop stars – he is appreciative. J.T. won the award for Video of the Year for “Mirrors” and the Michael Jackson Vanguard Award for lifetime achievement. He thanked his grandparents and mentioned that his grandfather had passed away in December. At one point he looked into the camera and said “hi” to his “Granny.” In the setting of an MTV Video Music Awards show, that moment showed unbelievable class and revealed a lot of Justin Timberlake’s character. For young generations today, Justin Timberlake will be around long into the future as many of the icons of the Baby Boomer generation are today.
Bruno Mars is another talent that is defining music and style in 2013. The music and the visuals of the video for his hit “Treasure” provide an instant flashback to the late-70’s and early 80’s. The guitar licks in the song are reminiscent of Chic, his voice and moves remind us all of a pre-“Thriller” Michael Jackson and the visual theme of the video is a re-creation of many the classic videos of Earth, Wind and Fire. The Bruno Mars video for “Treasure” is a nostalgic moment for Baby Boomers, but it is a fresh, innovative direction for a new young generation. Quite often when new technology inspires art – art breaks the current rules with a retro reach to the past.
The white hip hop artist, Macklemore, and I mention ‘white’ because I love breaking stereotypes for those who are so quick to negatively judge based on skin color, was another performer who shed a positive light on the music of a young generation today. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis won awards for Best Hip Hop video for “Can’t Hold This” and Best Video with a social message for “Same Love.” The song is about equality for gays. In accepting the award for Best Video with a social message, Macklemore talked about his generation being at the forefront of equality and said that gay rights are human rights. Another presenter said that hating someone because of their sexual orientation is like judging a person because of skin color. If you are part of a generation that once stood up for equality, there is a lot to admire about the new young generation that is standing up for equality – even if you don’t agree with the equality they are standing up for.
Miley Cyrus’ performance early in the show and her performance during Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” only further demonstrated that this MTV awards show may be a signal of new trends in music. Miley Cyrus stood out as being overtly vulgar. I have defended Miley’s skimpy clothing that has been highly criticized in the mainstream media and I have supported her attempts to distance herself from her Disney past and establish herself as a maturing young artist, but the blatant sexual gestures and the focus on her crotch and simulated self-gratification were amateur, forced and vulgar. Perhaps on other MTV awards shows Miley Cyrus’ sexual gestures would have fit in and been celebrated, but she exposed herself as a false sex music goddess with her immaturity.
The other moments that seemed juxtaposed to the ambience of the night were the times when comedian Kevin Hart attempted to get laughs by his harsh putdowns of performers on the show. His comments were actually very uncomfortable for the audience. Lady Gaga opened the show and that was her first performance since having hip surgery. Kevin Hart ridiculed the size of her hips and her figure. After the brief, but celebrated N’SYNC reunion for the song “Bye Bye Bye,” Hart made fun of some of the guys gaining weight and said they were so out of shape that they struggled to get through the routine. Awkward moments that would have appropriately fit the attitude of other MTV shows, seemed to contradict a flashpoint that may be signaling a new trend in music and pop culture.
Admittedly, I have been anticipating the signs of the music, fashion and pop culture that will embody the trends that define this decade. The ‘dressed up,’ classy style of Justin Timberlake’s new music and his more formal fashion, the new hair styles for men that are more clean-cut, even for an edgy, tattooed young generation and the music and fashion style of the Bruno Mars-type stars, all point the way to the pop culture that is defining the times.
When it seems that pop culture is pushing the limits that will lead to the complete dismantling of society, there is often a pulling back from the edge. The permissiveness of the content on television and in society in the 70’s ended with the more wholesome content of television and trends in the 80’s. Just when it might appear that a young generation is poised to destroy our society and challenge the morals of the established world, there may now be a sign that pop culture is moving in a more wholesome direction.
The stars that will be most remembered from the MTV Video Music Awards of 2013 and the stars that will be most criticized, may provide a glimpse into the trends that will define a young generation whose time has come to set new trends.