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MTV Music Video Awards, often shortened as the VMAs, is an annual award ceremony hosted and broadcast live by the cable television channel to honor a selection of notable music videos released by various recording artists each year. First presented in September 1984 as an alternative to the Grammy Awards in the music video category, MTV’s Video Music Awards have since grown into a coveted accolade in the music industry, especially for young, up-and-coming artists, while the event itself has also gained a reputation of its own as a breeding ground for publicity stunts, controversies and other unscripted episodes involving popular musicians and other A-list celebrities.
The first VMAs was held on September 14th, 1984 at Radio City Music Hall and hosted by actor Dan Ackroyd and actress Bette Midler (shown below). The ceremony contained notable performances by pop artists Madonna and Cyndi Lauper.
1993: Rupal Insults Milton Berle
During the 1993 VMAs, drag queen RuPaul Andre Charles and comedian Milton Berle presented the Viewer’s Choice Award and engaged in a brief verbal tiff after Charles ad-libbed an insult regarding Berle’s age, stunning the comedian.
1997: Fiona Apple’s Speech
During her acceptance speech for Best New Artist at the 1997 VMAs, singer-songwriter Fiona Apple made the controversial statement “This world is bullshit” (shown below).
1998: Marilyn Manson’s Kissing Cops
During Marilyn Manson’s performance of the song “Dope Show” at the 1998 VMAs, a group of men dressed as police officers danced onstage together before kissing each other at the end of the song (shown below).
2000: Tim Commerford’s Scaffolding Prank
While Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst was giving his acceptance speech for Best Rock Video at the 2000 VMAs, Rage Against the Machine bassist Tim Commerford climbed scaffolding behind the stage, was subsequently arrested and spent one night in jail.
2002: Michael Jackson’s “Artist of the Millenium Award”
At the 2002 VMAs, performer Michael Jackson was presented with a trophy honoring his 44th birthday by singer-songwriter Britney Spears, who said she felt he was the “artist of the millenium.” Jackson mistakenly assumed he was being presented with an “Artist of the Millenium Award,” giving a acceptance speech for non-existent award.
According to comedian Louis C.K., Jackson had demanded Spears refer to him as ""artist of the millenium" prior to going onstage in order to give himself the award.
2003: Madonna Kisses Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera
At the 2003 MTV VMAs, during an on-stage performance featuring Madonna, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, Madonna took a dramatic pause to kiss both artists before the camera cut away to pop star Justin Timberlake (shown below).
2009: Kanye West Interrupts Taylor Swift’s Speech
At the 2009 MTV VMAs, American country pop singer Taylor Swift won the Best Female Video award for her song “You Belong With Me.” As Swift began giving her speech, Kanye West unannouncedly came up on stage and took the microphone from her to proclaim “Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you, Imma let you finish but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time…one of the best videos of all time!” before being booed off the stage. He handed the mic back to Swift but MTV cut to commercial before she could continue.
2010: Lady Gaga’s Meat Dress
At the 2010 VMAs, Lady Gaga wore a dress designed by Argentinian designer Franc Fernandez and styled by Nicola Formichetti, which was made out of raw beef. The dress was condemned by animal rights groups and widely mocked by viewers on various websites and social media platforms online.
2013: Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke Performance
2014: Beyonce and Blue Ivy
At the 2014 VMAs, singer-songwriter Beyonce gave a live performance of her song “Drunk in Love” (shown below, left). When Beyonce accepted the “Michael Jackson Achievement Award,” she was joined onstage by husband Jay-Z and her daughter Blue Ivy (shown below, right).
Following the show, former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand, who was paralyzed during a football game, tweeted a photograph of the exact moment he was injured with the caption “Bruhhh” as a reaction to Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love” performance (shown below).
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