MTV VMAs: Kendrick Lamar dominates as awards show gets political

The MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) are always a big night for pop music, but were also dominated by political statements at a fiery show in Los Angeles on Sunday night.

Artists spoke out against white supremacy and urged suicide awareness.

Transgender military personnel attended days after US President Donald Trump signed a directive to ban them.

The mother of Heather Heyer, killed during a protest against a far-right march, presented an award.

Susan Bro handed out the Fight Against the System Award, just 15 days after Ms Heyer’s death in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Paying tribute to her daughter, she said: “I miss her, but I know she’s here tonight.”

She was introduced by the stage by Reverend Robert Wright Lee IV, a descendant of the controversial general on the Confederate side of the US Civil War.

“We have made my ancestor an idol of white supremacy, racism, and hate,” he said.

All six nominees for the award shared the prize. Somali nominee K’naan, whose cover of a Hamilton track paid tribute to the work of immigrants, wore a mock Make America Great Again written in Arabic.

Anti-Trump messages

Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris also spoke out against the violence in Charlottesville, calling out “Nazi white supremacist jerks.

“We as a nation with liberty as our slogan – we have zero tolerance for their violence, their hatred and their discrimination. We must resist.”

Artists mostly avoided referring to the US president directly, but criticised his policies and events indirectly.

Host Katy Perry, who campaigned for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election mocked Mr Trump with the new award: “Listen, guys, this is one election where the popular vote actually matters…so vote online, but hurry up, before some random Russian pop star wins!”

Suicide awareness

Musician Logic performed a powerful rendition of his song 1-800-273-8255 (named after the US suicide prevention hotline) with the lyrics: “I want you to be alive / You don’t gotta die today.”

He shared the stage with survivors of suicide attempts wearing “You are not alone” t-shirts.

Thirty Seconds to Mars frontman Jared Leto paid tribute to vocalists Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell who both took their own lives earlier this year.

“If there is anyone out there who is watching this tonight who feels like there is no hope,” he said, “hear me now: you are not alone.”

Rapper Kendrick Lamar was the night’s biggest winner, taking home six prizes and opening the show with a message about police brutality.

Rapper Cardi B also touched on the issue when she gave a shout-out to NFL player Colin Kaepernick who has been side-lined after protesting against racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem before games.

“As long as you kneel with us, we’re gonna be standing for you,” she said.

Taylor Swift failed to appear at the event, but debuted her comeback music video for Look What You Made Me Do.

The video has been watched more than 12 million times on Youtube already.

Earlier this year MTV announced it was abandoning traditional male and female categories, switching to gender-neutral awards instead.


Full list of winners:

Video of the Year: Kendrick Lamar – Humble

Artist of the Year: Ed Sheeran

Best collaboration: Zayn Malik and Taylor Swift – I Don’t Wanna Live Forever

Best New Artist: Khalid

Best Hip Hop: Kendrick Lamar – Humble

Best Dance: Zedd and Alessia Cara – Stay

Best Pop: Fifth Harmany feat. Gucci Mayne – Down

Best Fight Against the System: The Hamilton Mixtape – Immigrants (We Get the Job Done), Alessia Cara – Scars to Your Beautiful, John Legend – Surefire, Logic feat Damian Lemar Hudson – Black Spiderman, Big Sean – Light, Taboo feat. Shaliene Woodley – Stand up/ Stand N Rock #NoDapl

Best Direction: Dave Meyers and The Little Homies (for Kendrick Lamar – Humble)

Best Cinematography: Kendrick Lamar – Humble

Best Art Direction: Kendrick Lamar – Humble

Best Choreography: Kanye West – Fade

Song of the Summer: Lil Uzi Ver – XO Tour L1if3

Best Visual Effects: Katy Perry feat. Skip Marley – Chained to the Rhythm

Best Editing: Young Thug – Wyclef Jean

Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award – Pink


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