The 2009 MTV VMAs take a hard left to crazy town

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Janet Jackson performs onstage during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on September 13, 2009 in New York City

If anyone missed MTV’s Video Music Awards, it was just as squirrely and nutty as 2009 has been, so far. For some reason, people are acting as if the planets are aligned, or if the sky is turning red with blood… and the VMAs didn’t disappoint in the fruitcake department.

Remember When MTV Told Billie Jean to Beat It?

Always a beacon of cutting edge, rock n’ roll antics, the VMAs finally paid tribute to Michael Jackson beyond the past press stunts. (And, lest we forget, they originally refused to play any videos from Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall” album
because MTV thought of themselves as a “rock” station, and MJ was just a little too r&b… I guess the “M” in MTV wasn’t for Music.) As usual, Michael’s little sister –and closest sibling– classed up the awards show with an amazing virtual “dance off” from their J-Pop, hyper-stylized duet video “Scream.”

Where Are the 12 Year Old Dancers?

Aside from Russell Brand’s randy and risque hosting, the show took a decidedly Fellini-esque turn into BET territory with their tepid, oddly lip-synched performances –though Pink was good– and straight to the bizarre antics of nominee Kanye “I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob g’goo goo g’joob” West. (I’d show you a video in this section, but MTV –i.e., the Anti-Christ Justice League– only wants you to view the outburst on their site and 500 more times in their reruns.)

Singer Pink performs onstage during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on September 13, 2009 in New York City

Wu-Tang is for the Children

When singer Taylor Swift (no, I have no clue who she is other than hearing her name fifty times on each TMZ show) won a Moon Man for Best Female Video Award, she graciously came on stage to accept her award and to give her speech.

Well, Mr. West pulled an O.D.B (“Wu-Tang is for the children”) and bum

rushed her speech with a rant about how Beyonce “Rump Shaker” Knowles-Z should have won for “Single Ladies.” Um, either way, just why?

Beyonce accepts an award onstage during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on September 13, 2009 in New York City

Poor Taylor stood their stunned and humiliated. Again, lest we forget, this is not Kanye’s first go-round on the crazy carousel, nor his first time taking us with him.

Crazy ass Kanye West takes the microphone from Taylor Swift and speaks onstage during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on September 13, 2009 in New York City

Does no one remember the 2006 MTV Europe Awards when Kanye felt he should’ve won the award because, you know, he spent, “…(O)ver a million dollars”?

Aside from all that, he and Janet actually made the awards show worth watching, and his date was Grace Jones cool sexy. He did 2009 proud…

Catch it 500 more times on MTV: www.mtv.com/ontv/vma/2009/

Crazy ass Singer Kanye West and Amber Rose attend the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on September 13, 2009 in New York City

Beyonce to Play Etta James in New Movie

Don’t get me wrong, but I’m not the biggest fan of Beyonce’s acting. She’s a fabulous entertainer, but I have my own issues about singers and rappers starring in films when there are so many talented actors just waiting to be seen. Dreamgirls was pretty frothy, and it may be that I’m a little jaded because I actually saw Jennifer Holliday on stage in the role of Effie, and how Effie ended on stage was much different than how she ended in the film –but I digress.

I haven’t seen the film yet, so I can’t comment on the outcome; however, Beyonce’s been getting great reviews for stepping up her acting game. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Mick LaSalle wrote, “it’s Beyoncé Knowles as Etta James who’s the movie’s revelation.” 

I’m glad that the former-Ms. Knowles has taken on a challenging role, and made it hers. I’m also a big believer that regardless of your race, ethnicity, or background, it’s imperative that you understand your own history before being entertained by it, this includes understanding your own history within context. 

Etta James had an incredibly complicated career and life, and a lot of it played out in the San Francisco Bay Area with band leader Johnnie Otis (father of guitarist Shuggie Otis) and local favorite Sugar Pie DeSanto, so I hope that this amazingly powerful woman’s life is given the respect, sensitivity, and rawness it deserves. 

If you’d like to find out first hand about some of the characters featured in this film, stop by these sites and fall in love with their original recordings in their own voices. Oh, and make sure to see Cadillac Records!