As expected, MTV’s Video Music Awards 2015 brought out stars of pop culture importance in their Sunday best — whether that meant wearing shimmery gowns, jeans and bomber jackets, or in host Miley Cyrus’ case, a bejeweled frock that left very little to the imagination … and faux locs.
The latter echoed a long-held grievance for Black communities and seemed to set the tone for the night — the irresponsible cultural appropriation of Black culture was not only being regurgitated once again by a young woman who largely leaned on co-opting a subset of Blackness to change her squeaky clean Disney image, but it was being celebrated by Viacom across a handful of stations, including BET.
It seems that Cyrus, previously called out for using Black women and Black culture as props, has learned nothing from the critique of what her White privilege provides her — an opportunity to appropriate Black hair to be beautiful or trendy, while Black people who have traditionally styled their hair in these protective crowns are excluded from the conversation.
Further proof that Cyrus doesn’t quite “get it” were comments she made in a New York Times piece last week that suggested Nicki Minaj be polite when discussing her frustration with systemic oppression, race, and European beauty standards that prevent diversity from being celebrated on platforms like MTV. Nicki’s response to Cyrus, a VMA first that you can watch here, will more than likely be touted across media headlines as Nicki attacking the pop star without proper context that Cyrus’ comment was initially violent in nature. Suggesting that Black people approach race politely to be validated is diminishing their justifiable frustration with 400 years of oppression.
But hairstyles and antics aside, what was arguably the most insulting and racially charged moment of the night was when comedian Rebel Wilson presented the Best Hip-Hip Video award dressed as a police officer.
From The Huffington Post:
“I know a lot of people have problems with the police, but I really hate police strippers,” she said, dressed in a police uniform, before taking it off to reveal a bodysuit reading “F**k Tha Police Stripper.” She then went on to joke about getting a police stripper for her grandmother’s birthday who wouldn’t “feel her up.”
“I hate this injustice,” she joked, “hence the shirt.”
The tasteless joke shocked many viewers, who then took to Twitter to explain how making light of police brutality is a clear jab at the Black Lives Matter movement…and the many men, women, and children who have died at the hands of police officers in America.
It was, for many, a reminder of the trauma experienced almost daily in Black communities in a moment that was meant to celebrate and uplift the treasured art form of hip-hop.
But Wilson’s joke joined a list of VMA moments that had viewers shaking their heads in confusion and frustration. In a scripted bit about weed brownies with Snoop Dogg, Cyrus used the historically painful and racial term “mammy.” It was later revealed that Cyrus was addressing her real grandmother, not Snoop as originally believed, but the use of a term — one that dredges up images of racial caricatures and slavery — still raised questions about Cyrus’ knowledge of race in this country.
After Kanye West’s rambling speech to accept his Video Vanguard Award (where he also announced his presidential campaign for 2020), Cyrus told the audience that she was going to vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. While it’s likely the statement was another joke meant to pull in the laughs and shock, endorsing a candidate who is unapologetic about his disparaging comments on immigrants, people of color, and women isn’t wise for a network that boasts inclusivity and diversity.
And in the midst of all these racially insensitive moments was the promotion for MTV’s satirical campaign White Squad, a commercial that shows members of an all-White company assisting minorities who encounter systemic oppression because of the color of their skin. And while the push, brought forth by MTV’s “Look Different” campaign, is meant to tackle racism and White privilege, it no doubt added tension to an award show that, just an hour in, managed to make a punchline out of Black trauma and Black lives.
All of which goes to show you, good intentions don’t always end well. And based on these moments that had Twitter abuzz with criticism, it looks like MTV and the artists it celebrates should probably take a course on racial sensitivity.
RED CARPET RECAP: The 2015 MTV Video Music Awards
1. The Kardashians and Jenners are in the building.Source:Getty 1 of 30
2. Fresh off the success of his new single, Justin Bieber comes through in jeans and a jacket.Source:Getty 2 of 30
3. The oldest and the youngest.Source:Getty 3 of 30
4. Still got it! Britney Spears was everything in a see-through sequined number.Source:Getty 4 of 30
5. Kim Kardashian arrived with her hubby, Kanye West, who will receive the 2015 Video Vanguard Award.Source:Getty 5 of 30
6. Pharrell and his wife were the red carpet's denim duo.Source:Getty 6 of 30
7. Ciara rocked noticeably shorter hair as she arrived in a daring dress.Source:Getty 7 of 30
8. Yas! Nicki Minaj stunned in gold.Source:Getty 8 of 30
9. O'Shea Jackson Jr. kept things casual.Source:Getty 9 of 30
10. Rocking a jacket that reads, "KKKops are the biggest gang," clearly Vic Mensa chose to make a statement.Source:Getty 10 of 30
11. Cara Delevingne in Saint Laurent.Source:Getty 11 of 30
12. Rocking a patterned frock, JoJo is still a perfect 10.Source:Getty 12 of 30
13. Selena Gomez proves that you can never go wrong with all black everything.Source:Getty 13 of 30
14. Gigi Hadid absolutely shined.Source:Getty 14 of 30
15. John Legend and Chrissy Teigen gave us yet another reason to consider them #RelationshipGoals.Source:Getty 15 of 30
16. Nick Jonas rocked head-to-toe leather.Source:Getty 16 of 30
17. Amber Rose and Blac Chyna continued their BFF escapades in matching outfits.Source:Getty 17 of 30
18. Jeremy Scott kept it vibrant in color. Much like this year's Moon Man trophy.Source:Getty 18 of 30
19. Miguel was looking fly in YSL.Source:Getty 19 of 30
20. Taylor Swift opted for a sequined top and trousers combo.Source:Getty 20 of 30
21. Demi Lovato was pretty in pink.Source:Getty 21 of 30
22. Miley Cyrus narrowly avoids nip-slips in Versace.Source:Getty 22 of 30
23. Charlamagne flashed a smile for the photogs before hosting the red carpet.Source:Getty 23 of 30
24. Kelly Osbourne attended to host the pre-show.Source:Getty 24 of 30
25. Tori Kelly flaunted her toned legs in short-shorts.Source:Getty 25 of 30
26. Major squad goals.Source:Getty 26 of 30
27. Rocsi Diaz didn't shy away from flashing cleavage in a revealing LBD.Source:Getty 27 of 30
28. Vanessa Hudgens was simply beautiful in an elegant gown.Source:Getty 28 of 30
29. Work! Rita Ora's feathers are unstoppable.Source:Getty 29 of 30
30. Praise Him.Source:Getty 30 of 30
Rebel Wilson’s Cop Joke, Miley Cyrus’ Mammy — Just How Racist Were The 2015 MTV VMAs? was originally published on newsone.com