Last weekend, entertainment showed how they could adapt to the coronavirus pandemic with MTV hosting their 37th annual Video Music Awards (VMAs) ceremony. The show managed to hit many milestones while still maintaining quite an interesting setup, one that kept many people safe while still bringing fans across the country quality performances.
At the beginning of the pandemic, MTV hoped to still host an in-person ceremony, even if the audience capacity had to be significantly reduced, but eventually they realized that, for safety, it would be much better to hold an audience-less show. Fans could join as a virtual audience to performances held all around New York City, Los Angeles and even South Korea.
The majority of performances, red carpet walks, interviews and acceptances were filmed in advance. To do so, celebrity performances were invited to New York City a few at a time, asked to quarantine for around three days after their arrival and were then tested. If everything cleared, performers were able to film and acceptance speeches were able to be given. For a time where everything seems so uncertain, MTV found a way to safely and successfully make their ceremony come to life.
The show featured many of these pre-recorded performances. The performances were a mixture of recorded events and virtual reality. Even the host, Keke Palmer, had her speeches prepared in advance from the safety of a green screen. Some performers utilized masks as they proved they could still hit high notes while wearing a face covering. Not only could Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga give a ten-minute-long performance straight, but they also did it in masks. Other performers included Lewis Capaldi, Machine Gun Kelly, TikTok sensations Tate McRae and Jack Harlow, The Weeknd and, of course, BTS as well as others.
As for awards, it was a successful night for many. Lady Gaga won four awards, including song of the year, artist of the year, best collaboration and the tricon award. Taylor Swift was the first female solo artist to win best director. Worldwide sensation BTS took home awards for best group, best pop song, best K-pop and best choreography. To represent the state of the entertainment industry right now, new categories were added such as best quarantine performance, best video from home and everyday heroes: frontline medical workers to honor those that risk their lives every day. The first ever award for best quarantine performance went to CNCO’s “MTV Unplugged at Home” and “best video from home” went to Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber’s “Stuck With U.” My favorite winner of the night, though, was Machine Gun Kelly’s “Bloody Valentine” for best alternative.
MTV hosting the VMAs was an exciting event for entertainment, and had broader implications for what the immediate future under COVID-19 will look like. It showed how we can adapt to the pandemic and how we don’t need to completely lose what we were used to for safety, but can come up with solutions to still experience those things we love. This entire night and the weeks of preparation prior were all done maintaining social distancing and other safety precautions. If other awards shows follow similar guidelines, events like this would be able to be held as the world heals. With iconic performances and endless energy from celebrities, MTV had another successful year showing how much art, time and talent goes into music videos.