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Thursday, August 29, 2002


Premature Feelings of Mortality Dept.

WFOoBH Goes to the VMAs Via the Magic of Digital Cable

I feel like I've been aged out, not altogether gracefully, from the MTV Video Music Awards. But here I am, digging in my fingernails and refusing to be demographically bussed over to VH-1 Classics. I am not ready to be ghettoized into the realm of 1981 Bad Company and Kansas videos, Behind the Music Marathons that last for entire lost weekends, and the new single from Sheryl Crow. I am young and vital and still know how to rock.

Here are my impressions as I strapped myself in for the duration of the VMAs.

--The show opened with Bruce Springsteen. Even though I am not a huge fan, I will not deny his greatness as an artist. But do 15-year-old kids have any idea who he is? MTV puts him on only because he sings songs about 9/11 that make MTV viewers' parents cry. "Mooom, some guy who looks like Dad's truck driver friend is singing on TV."

--Minutes after Springsteen was on, James Brown did a mini-performance. See above re: kids not knowing who the old black dude in the pompadour is. (Unless they've been watching the news and seeing some of the domestic violence complaints--he might be America's preeminent wife beater, and that's got to register something with Generation Y.)

--The show grows more surreal by the minute. Michael Jackson accepted MTV's Artist of the Millenium award. It was unclear to which millennium they were referring. I cannot tell if it is actually Jacko receving the award or that kook who spent all the money on plastic surgery to look exactly like him. But at this point, does it even matter? The Fake-O Jacko probably has at least a fragment of his original nose intact, which is infinitely more than can be said of the freak in the red jacket holding the statue--and it sounds like he has a cold. I imagine that if one's nose has been completely refashioned from space-age polymers, one's voice would sound a little nasal. Jimmy Fallon scores points (over the heads of the audience) by pointing out that he "thinks [MJ] had a little work done." Not too much of a shot, considering the mummy-like creature that is decaying just a few feet away from him.

--I don't even know what B2K is, but I think it involves special sauce and a sesame seed bun. And double beef patties.

--I have been exhorted by the cast of the Real World: Las Vegas "to get my drink and party on." Oh, I shall. I shall.
[Real World in Vegas? What bad things could possibly happen?]

--Best Celebrity Presenter Pairings: Mary Kate and Ashley (Where did they get the idea to put them together? Revolutionary!); Bjork and Bea Arthur; Michael Jackson and his nose hole.

--Eminem is a white guy, and he raps! It's about time MTV made rap music safe "for the rest of us." Ever since Vanilla Ice went away, I've felt a little uneasy with hip-hop.

--Pink declared "I'm too drunk for this," after winning an award. The camera immediately panned over the audience, capturing other celebrities also too drunk for this: Ben Affleck, Robert Downey Jr, Jason Priestly, the one from Backstreet Boys with the scary facial hair, Kitty Dukakis, and Betty Ford.

--Gwen Stefani from No Doubt is starting to look old to me. It could be that she's getting up there in years--or it could be that Shakira is nearby, working that Latin magic that makes the 33-year-old-with-pink-hair thing look a might tired.

--Guns N' Roses (or more accurately, Axl Rose, five other guys, and a bass drum that says "GNR"). There is no catcher's chest protector nor any kilt on Axl's person. It is entirely possible there are people in the crowd who had never heard "Sweet Child O' Mine" before tonight's performance--and have never seen a doped-out guitar player hide his face under a ridiculous top hat.

--Elton John and the ghost of Liberace performed a duet of "Just the Two of Us" as their eyes lock across the tops of their baby grands. Just who is the demographic for this show?

--Original VJs Alan Hunter and Mark Goodman are tossed into a lion pit as Carson Daly gives the thumbs-down sign, cackles with delight, and guzzles champagne with Viacom president Sumner Redstone. I can't help but feel I am being mauled right along with them.

I missed portions of the show while folding laundry, throwing some meat on the George Forman Grill, and curling up in a ball in the corner of my couch, sucking my thumb, and lamenting that I, a member of the original MTV generation, have been put out to pasture by TRL nation.

But I can still tell the difference between Avril Lavigne and Michelle Branch. There's some fight left in me yet.

About this site

This is the internet home of Mark Lisanti, a Los Angeles writer sometimes known as Bunsen. He is the founding editor of Defamer, a weblog about Hollywood, where he now serves in the nebulous capacity of "editor-at-large."
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