Kanye West admitted to having smoked marijuana prior to the award ceremony, but was he serious about taking a tilt at the Presidency? Photo: MTV Taylor Swift presented Kanye West with the Video Vanguard award.
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The hardest-twerking woman in showbusiness flirted with nudity, flagged her support for Donald Trump, flaunted her fluid sexuality, and flogged a brand new album in her final moments on stage, but host Miley Cyrus could do nothing to prevent being upstaged by Kanye West, who used MTV’s Video Music Awards show on Monday to announce he intends to run for President in 2020.
Both West, 38, and Cyrus, 22, have been significant players in recent years in an awards show that has somehow morphed from extended station promo to mainstream pop-cultural event.
West – whose messianic alter-ego is Yeezus – inadvertently aided that transformation when he stormed the stage in 2009 to interrupt Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for best female video, claiming the award should have gone to Beyonce instead.
In 2013, Cyrus became the focal point of much hand-wringing when the former Disney child star emerged from a giant teddy bear to dance suggestively with Robin Thicke, whose Blurred Lines was criticised in some quarters as a “rape” song.
Last year, when Cyrus won a VMA award for her Wrecking Ball clip, she sent a young homeless man to the stage to accept the award on her behalf.
This year, though, she was front and centre, wearing outlandish and ever-more-skimpy costumes until she finally appeared, apparently naked, behind a curtain backstage, asking “What’s up, my tits are out?”
She danced with drag queens, she appeared in comic sketches with Andy Samberg and Ike Barinholtz (poking fun at her famously lurid Instagram feed) and Snoop Dogg (playing with her fondness for marijuana).
She made jokes about her bisexuality, and she hosed down a spat with Nikki Minaj that might have turned ugly (though it might equally have been an entirely scripted moment).
And then came the key set-piece, when Taylor Swift presented the Video Vanguard award (a kind of lifetime achievement thing) to West.
The moment had been heavily promoted beforehand, and was seen as an opportunity to heal those old wounds.
For a moment, it looked like West – one of the least humble men in entertainment – was going to seize the chance to make things right. Instead, he stole the limelight once again by announcing he would run for President.
Having thanked Swift for being “so gracious”, West admitted he often thought about the day they first met, on the 2009 awards show.
“I think about it a bit when I go to a baseball game and 60,000 people boo me,” he said. “And I think if I had to do it all again what would I have done? … If I’d had a daughter at that time, would I have gone on stage and grabbed the mic off someone else’s?”Imma let you finish, but @taylorswift13 and @kanyewest had the best make up hug ever. #vmaspic.twitter上海夜网m/gXcLtZPm4Y— Teen Vogue (@TeenVogue) August 31, 2015
West then set off on a ramble, apparently heartfelt, that touched on “poor” decisions at the Grammys, his own inarticulacy, and the flawed nature of awards shows in general.
He painted himself as a martyr for the cause of artistic expression – “Sometimes I feel that … I died for artists to be able to have an opinion” – and admitted to wanting “people to like me more”.
He also admitted to having “rolled up a little something, to knock the edge off” before the show.
But having claimed “I’m not no politician, bro” early in his speech, West brought the house down by seemingly entering the run for the White House – albeit at the election after the next one.
Having addressed the apology issue again by saying “If my grandfather was here right now he would not let me back down”, West said he didn’t know what this speech might cost him.
“It don’t matter though ‘cos it ain’t about me. It’s about ideas, bro. New ideas, people with ideas, people who believe in truth.
“And yes, as you probably could have guessed by this moment, I have decided in 2020 to run for President.”
Was he serious, or was he just stoned? It’s impossible to know.
It may seem implausible that a rap star could sit in the Oval Office, or that he might use a music awards show to signal his intention to run. But in a country where Donald Trump can go from junk-bond salesman to TV celebrity to plausible contender for the Presidency, just about anything is possible.
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