If there's one golden truth about awards-show hosting, it's that it's very easy to get wrong, and almost impossible to get right. As much as I love the Tina Fey/Amy Poehler team-ups, they're in an extremely small minority of acceptable hosts. So, this year MTV has chosen to go with the best host possible: no 2014 VMA host at all.
This is the second year in a row that MTV gone without a master of ceremonies. Last year, when it was announced that there wouldn't be a host for the VMAs in Brooklyn, a spokesperson told the New York Post, "We’re focusing on more musical performances and surprise comedic moments for this year’s VMAs.”
It's possible that one of the "surprise" moments the network has planned for this year could be the last-minute announcement of a host, but it's more likely they'll just do without, as they've done a number of times in the past: In addition to the 2013 awards, no one emceed the 2011, 2007, or 2004 VMAs.
If someone does step up at the last minute, he or she has to be prepared a ton of responsibility for the success of the show. It's a thankless job, really.
The host gets blamed for everything: if the ceremony runs too long, if the winners talk too much and the speeches are too boring, or even if the ratings are too low. It's been noted, in the Post and elsewhere, that, when Kevin Hart hosted in 2012, there were half as many viewers as the host-less year before. But is that really Hart's fault, or was it just a weak year for music in general? It doesn't matter to MTV; the VMAs haven't had a host since.
And you can't please everyone. It's a host's main job is to keep things moving along, and make sure that no one presenter or winner holds up the works. But if you short-change someone's favorite act — and, say, cut off a certain member of the cast of Twilight, as two-time VMA host Russell Brand did at the VMAs in 2008 — you get the wrath of the Internet upon you.
From a viewer's perspective, you don't lose much by jettisoning the host. At most, you miss out on a funny monologue or two. Then again, chances are, a comedian isn't doing his or her best work as an awards-show host. Who remembers anything funny Hart, Brand, or Chelsea Handler — the last three VMA hosts — said during the broadcasts? (I happened to love Jon Stewart's much-maligned Oscar hosting stint, with its salute to periscopes and binoculars, but I think I'm in the minority, and it's nothing compared to what Stewart does on The Daily Show.)
It's much more likely that an awards-show host be long-winded and underwhelming. (Remember this year's Oscars, with Seth MacFarlane's interminable, all-over-the-place opening?) MTV's right when it says it's better to focus on the performances and "surprise" moments. We don't tune in to the VMAs for the host. We tune in with the hopes that someone will do something crazy on stage or start fights with the other singers (and maybe see them give out some awards). Everything else just eats up time.