MTV Video Music Awards continue to spark controversy over racial and cultural prejudice
Each year, the MTV Video Music Awards – commonly referred to as the VMAs – bring together some of today’s hottest artists from all genres of music (pop, rock, hip-hop, etc.) to celebrate the best music videos of the year. .
On September 12, musical celebrities such as Doja Cat, Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, Lil Nas X and Justin Bieber gathered for the live entertainment event at the Barclay Center in New York City. As with many MTV VMA ceremonies in the past, this year’s ceremony not only featured electrifying live performances and memorable acceptance speeches, but also sparked heated controversy.
As with any competitive event, whether between athletes or musicians, there are always arguments over who is “the best”. Such controversy is at the heart of a rivalry where someone comes out on top and someone down. However, when controversy surrounds issues of bias and inequality, the nature of competition is spoiled, as it is no longer about who is most worthy or deserving, but who has received the greatest. advantage.
The question of benefit and value can be explored in the case of Non-Latin white women Billie Eilish and Rosalía took home the award for best Latin video ahead of leading Latin artists like Bad Bunny, Shakira and Maluma at Sunday’s VMAs.
While their award-winning song “Lo Vas A Olvidar” is sung almost entirely in Spanish and has therefore been categorized as Latin music, neither Eilish nor Rosalía are members of the Latin American community. According to news source HITC, Eilish is more American with Irish and Scottish roots, while Rosalía is Spanish.
Since winning the trophy, social media has been teeming with backlash against the two singers and the VMAs as a whole, with many denouncing the racial prejudice and cultural appropriation involved by two white women receiving and accepting recognition of a culture. which is not theirs.
For example, via social media platform Twitter, one person wrote “Billie Eilish and Rosalia winning“ Best Latino Music Video ”at the VMAs is such a disrespect to us Latin women. none of them are Latin. none of them represent our culture. @vmas, you should be embarrassed.
Another Twitter user quoted an article from the AV Club newspaper, writing that “Rosalía is not a Latin artist. She is Spanish. This means that she is Hispanic because she comes from a Castilian-speaking country … the message is clear: VMAs always live up to their standards. [nonsense] of not correctly recognizing people of color.
As previously stated, this is not the first time that such issues and accusations have arisen within VMAs.
Regarding cultural appropriation, as featured in an article for Berklee College’s online magazine, Miley Cyrus has previously been accused of appropriating black culture in her twerk performance at the 2013 VMAs and her critique of rap. explicit from Kendrick Lamar. The audience further highlighted the fact that she had made several appearances with cornrows, dreadlocks and grids, which are traditionally stylistic features of African societies.
Additionally, according to an article in The Guardian, Nicki Minaj posted a series of tweets suggesting that her clip for Anaconda was overlooked by VMAs in 2015 because she was not the ideal breed: “If I were another ‘kind’ of artist, Anaconda would also be nominated for Best Choreography and Best Video of the Year.”
“When the ‘other’ girls release a video that breaks records and impacts culture, they get that nomination.”
“I am not always confident. Just tired. Black women influence pop culture so much but are rarely rewarded for it. “
Examples of racial and cultural prejudice have been confronted with other major musical events in the past. At the 2014 Grammys, Macklemore won the award for best rap album on Kendrick Lamar, although his album is publicly regarded as one of the greatest hip-hop records of all time. As reported in an article in The Independent, Macklemore himself claimed his victory was in part due to the color of his skin being white, and apologized to Lamar via text message: “You got robbed. I wanted you to win. You should have. It’s weird and it sucks that I stole you.
Collectively, the moments outlined above highlight the edge white performers have in musical awards shows such as VMAs and Grammys. There is a long history of rewarding and recognizing white artists for their “cultural versatility” and the subsequent history of particularly black artists being under-represented despite their vast influence in the music industry.