The extracurricular activities that took place after the Muchmusic Video Awards have gotten more attention than the show itself. Frankly, I couldn’t care less who’s to blame for an altercation between Perez Hilton and will.i.am that apparently escalated into the Black Eyed Peas’ manager assaulting Hilton. But the way their juvenile schoolyard bullshit played out yesterday proves an interesting companion to Sunday night’s broadcast.
We’re living through the last gasps of the middleman in the music industry. Artists are coming to terms with the fact that they no longer require mass media outlets to reach their fans. They can write their own blogs, film their own studio videos, share demos from their recording sessions (or even full records) quickly and easily over the Internet – all at the beck and call of the fans themselves. No wonder music television doesn’t show music videos anymore – what’s the point when they’re available online at the push of a button?
The helps explain why music awards shows have, for a long while now, dramatically downplayed the awards and instead stack their shows with as many performances as possible. Last night’s MMVAs opened with a performance from the Jonas Brothers that led straight into another performance by Alexisonfire – not a word of introduction or transition between them. Every award presentation felt like a chore, an annoying distraction before the next artist hit the stage. Taking things one step further, Much had the Jonas Brothers not only perform twice but act as co-hosts, leaving almost no screentime for the VJs themselves. The only authorities that mattered were the musical acts, not the commentators. The message the show sent was clear: don’t get in the way between the fans and the artists.
Which brings me to Perez/will.i.am/boom boom pow. Let’s put aside the in-hindsight-hilarious scheduling earlier in the evening that saw Hilton’s appearance immediately follow the Peas’ performance. Instead, think about how this story broke: first, Hilton Twittered the incident before even calling the police, asking people to call the police on his behalf (probably the most manic and crazed part of this whole ordeal). will.i.am responded on Twitter and then uploaded his own video response challenging Hilton’s claims. Then Hilton gave his own video blog response. It was only AFTER they’d both had their say that the world of celebrity journalism – blogs, entertainment websites, news programs – started to really run from the story, and even then they were largely repeating verbatim the claims of the actors involved.
Had this happened years ago, the entire drama would have played out through a filter first and would have been led with (semi-)objective commentary. Now, though, we get our perspectives from the artists themselves, these two complicated, biased narrators bashing off against each other, directly from artist to fan. It’s straight from the horses’ mouth but we have no way to come to a decision on which version of events is correct, just like how there’s no objective “awards” worth caring about anymore – instead, the MMVAs just throw a crazy assortment of bands our way and hopes something sticks.
No one’s standing between us and the clutter, but there’s no one helping us sort through it either. We’re all on our own.