Saturday, March 29, 2014

You Mean MTV ... Gave Out Awards? AKA Belinda's Brief And Unexpected Brush With Her Idol

The first thing every new art form needs, obviously, is an awards show. Thankfully, Kanye West aside, one rarely hears heated debates about such-and-such a video being "robbed" at the MTV Video Music Awards, because come on, who takes the Video Music Awards seriously? Certainly not, as the following clips demonstrate, the presenters.

In September 1984, MTV aired the first Video Music Awards. Some enterprising young '80s fan, it looks like from Russia (?), has actually uploaded the entire show onto YouTube (edit: later removed). Maybe you've got two and-a-half hours to kill (as I did), but in case you don't, allow me to summarize the highlights. Here's your chance to see:
  1. How much the voters really loved Herbie Hancock's "Rockit"
  2. Huey Lewis & The News and ZZ Top give some killer lip-syncing performances
  3. Madonna roll around on the stage in a wedding dress
  4. A bunch of memorably dated commercials for products such as Mountain Dew, Levi's 501 jeans, some shoe brand called Thom McAn, and a car that was apparently called a "Plymouth"
But arguably the most amusing part of all is the entertaining parade of half-drunken presenters presenting categories they barely seem to understand, such as Roger Daltrey presenting "Best Overall Performance in a Video" (as opposed to "Best Partial Performance in a Video"?), and Ronnie Wood presenting "Best Stage Performance in a Video" (um, isn't a video performance obviously not a stage performance?). But at any rate, the organizers may have saved the best for second-last, as once Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes dispense with the presentation of "Best Female Video," out come Belinda Carlisle and Kathy Valentine to present "Best Male Video."

Co-host Dan Ackroyd introduces our dazed and confused pair with the portentous announcement, "In the beginning, there was the beat, and the beat was good." Belinda's voice sounds like she just drank a bottle of transmission fluid, but once again, she and Kathy demonstrate an impressive ability to read cue cards despite most likely being completely high out of their minds. Sure, Belinda has a little bit of trouble around the 0:38 mark, but who wouldn't?
Belinda: "Tell me Kathy, how do you like your male video stars? Do you like the heart on the sleeve, 'I'm not too tough to cry' new age male, or do you like the heavy metal motorcycle macho, macho, hit 'em and hug 'em types?"

Kathy: "Well one thing I do like in a guy is one with a lot of substance."
As one YouTube commentator put it, "Yeah, and I think we all know what substance that was." Belinda is so unconcerned with the gravity of the moment that she even stops reading from the teleprompter long enough to wink her eye and flirt with an undisclosed member of the audience.

All you need to know about the nominees for "Best Male Video" is that one of them is Michael Jackson's "Thriller." This one should be a no-brainer, right? But the award goes to ... David Bowie, "China Girl"? Whuuuuut. Sadly, that's not the most egregious sin of the night. That would have to be Video of the Year going, not to "Thriller," not to "Girls Just Want To Have Fun," not to "Every Breath You Take," not to "Jump," or "All Night Long (All Night)," or "Love Is A Battlefield," or "Borderline," or "Uptown Girl," or any one of the dozens of other amazing videos that must have come out that year, but to The Cars' "You Might Think." I'll tell you what I might think, all right. I might think the 1984 MTV VMA voters were smoking crack.

Ah, but there's one other extra bit of chaos here. Believe it or not, some of these world-famous recording artists actually had better things to do that night than to attend the Video Music Awards. Like what? But in the instance of an absent performer happening to win an award, an almost equally famous artist would walk up to the stage to accept it on the absent performer's behalf. In this manner, Diana Ross accepted on behalf of Michael Jackson, and Joey Ramone accepted on behalf of the Eurythmics. Well, David Bowie didn't happen to make it that night, so accepting the award in his place was the co-writer and original performer of "China Girl," Iggy Pop. Which isn't that amusing, until you recall that Iggy Pop is Belinda Carlisle's idol. Look into her eyes and you can see her quietly, secretly, freaking out. Well, well, thought you could just be a presenter at the VMAs and sleepwalk your way through it and everything would be fine, didn't you?