“Bro.” On the night of Aug. 30, MTV hosted the 2015 Video Music Awards. Since I hadn’t bothered to watch the event in almost six years, I decided to give the award show another chance. Between Miley Cyrus wasting her talent and proving to the entire world why she should never host anything ever again, Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj settling their Twitter “beef ” by opening the event together (obviously a publicity stunt), and Rebel Wilson making a cringeworthy joke about the police right before the “Best Hip Hop Video” award announcement, this year’s VMAs were an utter disappointment.
Well, until Kanye West took the stage.
After a warm introduction by America’s sweetheart Taylor Swift, the 2015 Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award winner stood tall on stage, speechless, as the crowd cheered in jubilation. West looked down to his trophy and smiled, which is something people do not see often, as the rapper always keeps a serious demeanor in his public appearances. Upon that view, fans began to chant “Yeezus” repeatedly.
Seeing it live, one could easily believe that Kanye’s acceptance speech was just a 12 minute ramble about nothing. The comments that followed in different social media outlets only strengthened that notion. But he discussed many topics that everyone should be aware of – the most important one being the media manipulating facts and feeding them to the masses, who in turn, buy into it.
Let’s rewind to 2009, the last time I had the “pleasure” of watching the Video Music Awards. Taylor Swift had just accepted the award for “Best Female Video,” when Kanye ran on stage, stripped the microphone from her nervous hands, and screamed the words that still haunt him until this day: “I’m sorry, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.” When this took place, everybody (including Beyoncé) was stunned. For a long time, Kanye West was berated by the media, who felt the need to over-publicize his behavior and demonize him, rather than ignoring it to not give the rapper the attention he desired. People saw that message repeatedly and decided he was a horrible human being. Like the red “A” Hester Prynne was forced to don in the book “The Scarlet Letter,” West was always reminded of his mistake. As a society, we decided to ignore all the good he has done due to one night of drunken debauchery.
Six years later, the public perception of West is essentially still the same. During his speech, he discussed a situation he was involved in. The rapper was at a grocery store with his daughter and he had a lively conversation with someone about fresh juice. After the exchange, the person told Kanye that “he wasn’t so bad after all,” implying that his perception of the rapper was completely different from how the media molded his personality to be. We see some cracks.
Kanye also made a mention of the fact that before the 2015 VMAs had even started, they had already played the 2009 clip of him snatching the microphone from Taylor Swift’s hands numerous times. It was also not a coincidence that the Pennsylvania-born pop singer was the person selected to give him the award. More cracks. Why did Swift have to do it? Were they expecting something to happen? MTV set it up that way.
It was a constant reminder that the pure and innocent Taylor Swift was attacked by that savage monster. That will sure attract people to watch the VMAs this year. We need more people to watch it this year after last year’s 18 percent drop in viewership, according to Billboard.com. Controversy! Why does MTV (and the vast majority of the media) use such cheap techniques to get people’s attention and mold their thought process? Most importantly, why do the masses let themselves be manipulated by the media?
The scariest part of it is the fact that elections are right around the corner. My biggest fear is that an unsuitable leader may trump the opposition and take over what perhaps is the most important job in the planet all because the media will show us what they believe we should see. We have all the knowledge in the world in the palm of our hands.
We have the ability to thoroughly research each candidate’s policies, beliefs, successes and failures. Why are we allowing these different outlets to think for us if we have the power to make rational decisions by ourselves? This VMA faux feud exposes our society as a whole. We are easily manipulated by the news, allowing them to dictate what is best for us.
They tell us to hate Kanye, we hate Kanye – while completely disregarding all the good he’s done. If we allow the media to keep doing that, I fear for the future and for the well-being of our people.
Jideobi Ezeonu is a writer for The Spectator.