The 20-Something Blues: Have I Outgrown The VMAs?

The original concept for this post was how the VMAs have changed, and a lot of current pop music is watered-down and it’s very sad blah blah blah. But the more I wrote, the more I realized it’s not MTV that is changing, it’s not music, and it’s not the VMAs. It’s me.


Since 1984 when Madonna gave her standard-setting performance of “Like A Virgin” at the first MTV Video Music Awards, the VMAs have been a mecca of pop culture, music, fashion, and scandal. Every year since then, the VMA’s have been a major pop culture moment for pop artists of every sub-genre of music.

But this year (and last year too) I’ve noticed something different. Maybe I’m just projecting my own experiences onto the world at large, but the VMAs just feel less major than they used to, despite the larger than life characters and the incredible amount of diversity that we are seeing in popular music today (a really good thing). I find myself sighing at the thought of sitting through 3 hours of meaningless award-exchanges, and attention-reaching performances that are more about shock and awe or out-doing last year’s so-and-so than actually making a statement on a global stage, or even just expressing quality pop music.

At 22 I find myself asking, “Have I outgrown the VMAs?” Maybe it’s just how disconnected I’ve been from the pop charts lately (that’s not to say I don’t still have a weird affinity for Pop Music, but my palette has become more and more discerning for quality, thoughtful work in pop music). At this point, I’ve graduated college, moved out from my parents’ house, and I’m working hard to start a career and, honestly? I’d rather go couch shopping at IKEA than watch 30-year-old cartoon characters flying around an ampitheatre. It just feels silly.

This is all OF COURSE not to discredit the real and good messages being sent to teens (and anyone else) out there watching. Alessia Cara, Khalid, Logic and P!nk all had some extremely powerful moments this year that were meaningful and important for a lot of the young viewers watching. And even the less serious stuff I would still consider to be important pop culture artifact.

Anyways, this is a sad realization for me. When the MTV Video Music Awards feels too expensive, too childish, and too fakey fake, I know I’ve grown up a little too much. For someone like me, watching the VMAs every year was like looking at a window to my future, to all of the possibilities, and to everything I aspired to do, to have, and to be. It was the oracle of my humble desire to be fed every bit of art, music, and fashion as possible, and I believe it helped shaped my tastes to what they are today.

So, it is with sadness and regret I say that I, J. Excess, am too old to care about the VMAs.

Am I the only one? What did you think of the VMAs this year? What are some of your former-favorite things that you feel you’ve outgrown? 



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