By Oluwatoyin Adeleye
While Kendrick Lamar was packing home all of his six awards, did anyone else notice that the entire award show turned into a rally against many political issues including police brutality, racism, among others, as well as a wide support for people facing suicidal thoughts?
This year’s MTV Video Music Awards will definitely be one of the memorable ones, with all the events of the night. It was more than handing out awards and stage performances, we must say.
Artistes took their moments to lend a voice to the social issues affecting the society. Transgender military personnel attended, just days after President Donald Trump signed a directive to ban them.
There was an appearance from the mother of Heather Heyer, a girl killed during a protest against a far-right march in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Susan Bro handed out the Fight Against the System Award, 15 days after Ms Heyer’s death.
Paying tribute to her daughter, she said: “I miss her, but I know she’s here tonight.”
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 slogan written in Arabic.
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.
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!”
And four serving transgender service members, along with two veterans, joined stars on the red carpet at The Forum – after getting approval from The Pentagon.
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, as well as Alessia Cara and Khalid 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.” The performance definitely brought tears to the eyes of some members of the audience.
Meanwhile Taylor Swift was a no-show, but a performance of her ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ showed up and she bagged the Best collaboration with Zayn for I Don’t Wanna Live Forever.
Earlier this year, MTV announced it was abandoning traditional male and female categories, switching to gender-neutral awards instead.
Pink won the Video Vanguard award and used her speech to give a message to her six-year-old daughter Willow, who turned up to the event with her mum in a matching suit.
Kendrick Lamar’s opening performance had given a message about police brutality.
And rapper Cardi B also touched on the issue when she gave a shout-out to NFL player Colin Kaepernick who has been sidelined 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.
Check out the full list of winners below:
Video of the Year: Kendrick Lamar – Humble
Artist of the Year: Ed Sheeran
Best collaboration: Zayn 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 Harmony 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. Shailene 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 Vert – 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