Women At The 2015 VMAs Rule The Night While Ending Old Feuds & Starting Some New Ones
At the end of every award show, after all the fun has been had, the performances have been enjoyed, and the snacks have been eaten, we have to turn a critical eye to the two to three hour ceremony we have just enjoyed and examine exactly how well it holds up to important social issues. In particular, how did women fare at the 2015 MTV VMAs this time around? If you do even the most casual of Google searches, then it will come as no surprise that we as the audience can't just expect visibility for women or people of color at award shows, or in movies, or in TV shows, or, heck, even in books. However, the 2015 VMAs stand out for a highly feminist night that gave women center stage, although it came with a bizarre focus on feuds: starting them, and, more importantly, ending them.
Let's start with the opening performance. As we all knew, Nicki Minaj was opening up the show, but none of us could have anticipated how she chose to open up the show. After performing an amazing rendition of "Trini Dem Girls," Minaj had Taylor Swift come out onto the stage to join her for "The Night Is Still Young" followed by "Bad Blood," poking fun at the moment Swift misunderstood Minaj's negative tweets about the VMAs Video of the Year nominations as being a dig at her and the disagreement blew up into a feud in the media. Even without the addition of the Swift single at the end, it was very clear that the two women were declaring that there was zero bad blood between them, and the fact that they used the opening number of the VMAs to show such feminist solidarity was epic.
And yet the VMAs became the birthplace of another feud that will captivate the audience for weeks, this one also featuring Minaj. During her acceptance speech for Best Hip-Hop Video, Minaj took a moment to put Miley Cyrus, of all people, on blast for "talking about [her] in the media." To which Cyrus replied, "Hey, we’re all in this industry. We all do interviews and we all know how they manipulate sh*t. Nicki, congratu-f*cking-lations." Minaj was referring to a New York Times interview that Cyrus did during the week in which she discussed the above resolved feud between Swift and Minaj:
What I read sounded very Nicki Minaj, which, if you know Nicki Minaj is not too kind. It’s not very polite. I think there’s a way you speak to people with openness and love. You don’t have to start this pop star against pop star war.
This simple moment led to people trying desperately to figure out why Minaj was fighting with Cyrus, and then to discuss whether this qualified as a feud or whether the moment was faked. Given the fact that Minaj tweeted "Lmfaooooooooooooo" immediately after the moment, I have no idea what to think. However, it was still interesting in and of itself that the moment happened at all — and so soon after Minaj had just ended another disagreement.
Finally, Swift and Kanye West brought their feud full circle. You know, the one that began at the 2009 VMAs, with Swift meeting West for the first time when he snatched her microphone out of her hand and told her she didn't deserve to win Best Female Video. Swift, who arrived at the 2015 VMAs with about half the cast of the "Bad Blood" music video as her escorts (#SquadGoals), even gave a shoutout to the moment by concluding her speech with, "So I guess I have to say to all the other winners tonight, I’m really happy for you, and I’mma let you finish, but Kanye West has had one of the greatest careers of ALL TIME."
While that's less of a commentary on women and more of a commentary on how far Swift and Kanye have come, the fact that Kanye took to the stage following her speech and devoted part of his speech to apologizing to her for the way that he behaved back then was such a strong display. It's an apology that has been a long time in coming, and that fully deserved to be done very publicly on the same stage that Kanye first disrespected Swift on. The stage on which both artists are now giving each other equal and mutual respect as artists.
And that's far from all. From Miley Cyrus as our outgoing, bawdy, rowdy, hilarious host who closed out the show by declaring she had a new album out for free called Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz while dancing with past contestants from Ru Paul's Drag Race, to Swift devoting her speech accepting the Video of the Year award to the "Bad Blood" cast with a speech that mentioned how pleased she was to see the changing attitudes about gender stereotypes, the 2015 VMAs definitely allowed ladies to take center stage and rule the ceremony. It was a feminist display from start to finish, and a genuine joy to watch as a result. Then again, with Swift, Minaj, and Cyrus involved, feminism was always going to be the name of the game Sunday night.