VMAS 2009

Leave Kanye Alone

Even Kanye West doesn't defend the scene he caused about Taylor Swift at last night's VMAs. But Choire Sicha may be the only person in America on his side.

Kanye West was, according to MTVNews.com, booted from their Video Music Awards after his already infamous live microphone- and moment-stealing attack on Taylor Swift. In case you were dead or watching tennis last night, he bum-rushed the show when Swift won in the illiterately-named Best Female Video, and said, essentially, that Beyoncé should have won in that category.

The outrage was insane and immediate, both at the show, where the booing was a little frightening, and online, where everyone speed-Tweeted their horror and disapproval. It is amazing that Twitter did not go down completely.

At the show, the mismanagement of the Sudden Kanye Situation was an immense producer-fail on the part of MTV. While the audience at Radio City was just getting into the rhythm of a steady boo and figuring out that this wasn't (as far as we know, fellow conspiracy theorists) a planned stunt (among the confused: Beyoncé herself), a producer ran out and grabbed poor little Taylor Swift's hand and ran her off the stage. The show then cut to a tired Tracy Morgan clip package.

At least Kanye started his tiny tirade by telling Swift "I'm going to let you finish." MTV are the ones who actually didn't.

What a disaster! One tiny element of chaos and MTV fell apart—and so did America. One millionaire was mildly mean to another millionaire. Make no mistake: little Taylor Swift is at the head of very wealthy and successful business empire. And the head of another business empire was mildly impolite and out of order at a music awards show! Which is to say he created some excitement not previously sanctioned by an MTV producer.

When did America get so fussy and uptight?

I won't go so far as to suggest that everyone was flipped out that this angelic little white girl (and she is super-cute) was accosted by a probably drunk (West was, again according to MTVNews.com, “photographed holding a bottle of Hennessey on VMA red carpet.”)—and definitely crazy—older black man. I'll keep that thought to myself, but I'll keep thinking it.

We do like our entertainment prepackaged. Though Madonna's extraordinarily long (by today's standards) opening speech about Michael Jackson was notable for its lack of gloss and flash, and it was overall rather wonderful, it disappeared from memory twenty minutes later.

Looking down into the pit of bouncing youngsters set into the stage of Radio City, you could see how much people want to be good polite citizens. When people are going to be on TV, they act like the people on the TV.

I won't go so far as to suggest that everyone was flipped out that this angelic little white girl (and she is super-cute) was accosted by a probably drunk—and definitely crazy—older black man. I'll keep that thought to myself, but I'll keep thinking it.

What's worse, the level of Internet discourse taking place around the Sudden Kanye Eruption is Perez-like in its vulgarity and Twitter-length terseness—as Perez Hilton's own blog ghostwriter of the night put it: "WTF!?!?! How RUDE."

That’s particularly rich coming from the spokesperson for the head of a very wealthy and successful business empire that specializes in drawing semen on photos of the faces of women.

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It's not like Kanye brought the articulation either when he apologized on his website. He wrote, in part, that "I WILL APOLOGIZE TO TAYLOR 2MRW. WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD!!!! EVERYBODY WANNA BOOOOO ME BUT I'M A FAN OF REAL POP CULTURE!!!" (His site promptly went down under the massive scorn of millions of Americans, but LATimes.com has the screengrab.)

Don't bother apologizing, Kanye. The thing about the Incoming High Impact Kanye is that it was nearly the only honest note of the night. For instance, here's MTV's liveblog, from early in the show, when host Russell Brand took the: "Get ready for some lewd LOLs!" Yeah, we got the lewd, but not the LOLs, with Brand’s low point being an extended roofie and date-rape joke about Megan Fox. (It's okay: I doubt we’ll be seeing Brand in this role again.)

Among other actually honest moments were two from Pink. One was her incredibly hot and butch performance itself, starting from the top of the 60-foot-high proscenium. The other was from her Twitter: "Kanye west is the biggest piece of shit on earth. Quote me."

And Beyoncé's sort of sizzling, sort of sexist dance routine was impressive, but we all knew Beyoncé could do that. (What would have been exciting is if she'd sung.)

What's remarkable, in the end, is how little newness there was. The Beyoncé and the Jay-Z and the Madonna and the Green Day we have long had with us. Even Lady Gaga, the newcomer, has been on such continuous play that she seems a bit old already. And though her performance tonight was delightfully circa 1984 East Village, it still didn't rival a classic Madonna moment, and just couldn't cement her into pop culture history. (No worries though: the Gaga isn't going anywhere.)

The flaw in Gaga's ointment too was is in part that she was upstaged by Kanye. Everything and everyone was upstaged by Kanye—because it was one of the few moments the audience could feel anything.

The show went out with a whimper. Worst of all was Jay-Z, already so incredibly overrated, who performed abysmally. He was unintelligible, uninteresting and completely counterfeit.

By then, Kanye was already at home, probably well into his second bottle of Hennessey, laughing his head off. Here's to real pop culture.

Choire Sicha is co-proprietor of The Awl and is at work on a nonfiction book for HarperStudio.