Sunday, August 31, 2003

So, how about those MTV Video Music Awards, huh? (I hesitate to write anything about this, since a. I didn’t actually watch the damn thing and b. the news presence of such a non-event is about a day at the most, which makes writing about it at this date sort of like being the 473rd entrant in the Houston 500. But I’ve never let lack of timeliness or relevance stop me before, so boldly I press onwards.)

Anyway, the only somewhat notable event that occurred was the Britney/Madonna kiss. The headline in USA Today this weekend was “Madonna, Spears, Aguilera shock at MTV Awards.” “Shock?” Now, maybe I move in jaded, cynical Generation X circles, but I find it hard to believe that anyone is still shocked by anything Madonna or Britney Spears does at this point. I think even the least culturally aware people in this society are aware that Madonna and Britney have made their livelihoods by carefully marketing and manipulating their sexuality, so anything they do in that area can hardly be considered shocking any more. Maybe there are still Miss Hathaways out there muttering “my word” and pressing a handkerchief to their fevered brow over this stunt, but I doubt that many of them exist or have much cultural influence at this point. And is Christina Aguilera, who made a concerted effort a year ago to transform her public image into that of a Venusian streetwalker, physically capable of shocking anyone any more? I don't think that shock value is why Spears, Aguilera and Madonna are all still famous and selling records - Britney and Christina are still getting by with the combination of looks and carefully constructed pop product, while Madonna is more or less an institution more famous for being famous at this point.

More than anything else, the kiss is a microcosm of what MTV has specialized in over the years - a weightless, insignificant pop culture moment that in the long run will only be remembered as fodder for the endless MTV self-mythologizing clip shows that will run in perpetuity on that network. I can imagine a middle aged Michael Ian Black reminiscing in that flat, EZ-ironic tone about the whole event twenty years from now on “I Love the 00s.”

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