At the VMAs, Kanye West Enlivens A Show Built Around Old Narratives


Historically, the VMAs—MTV’s annual ceremony honoring the best in music videos—has been a staging ground for the best of music. This doesn’t (of course) mean that the acts featured have been the most talented, but they’ve always been the most interesting. One hopes, for the industry’s sake, this wasn’t the case this year.

The biggest event might have been Kanye West’s receipt of a lifetime achievement award, but presenter Taylor Swift went beyond referencing old business (his interrupting her acceptance speech at the 2009 VMAs) and collapsed into sheer narcissism. (Did you know Kanye’s album was the first one she bought on iTunes?) West himself delivered a stemwinder of a speech that it’s not entirely uncharitable to suggest might have been somewhat lost on his audience; it ended with his joking declaration of a presidential run in 2020 but included references to a detailed level of thought about what…

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