Tuesday, September 29, 2015
I am old.
This isn't exactly a newsflash. The evidence, after all, has been mounting for some time.
I'm no longer capable of eating unlimited cheeseburgers without consequence. Occasionally I yearn for a good nap. I no longer get carded at bars. My ankle can predict the weather. Sometimes I stay in on a Friday night and don't even feel bad about it. Grey hairs have taken up residence on my head without landlord approval. Even weirder hairs keep trying to leap out of my ears and nose like unwanted party guests. I have now seen 44 birthdays come and go.
Until now, I've done a pretty good job at ignoring the somewhat ominous fact that I'm very likely more than halfway to death. I deny my age on a daily basis and generally conduct myself like a 20-something whenever possible. I still listen to music at unhealthy volumes. I watch TV shows about superheroes and vampires and still harbor crushes on celebrities. I play video games until my hands ache. I'm as addicted to social media as your teenager is.
I don't act this way on purpose. I simply like what I like, and I'm in no hurry to change. Just because I'm middle-aged doesn't mean I have to suddenly develop a fondness for Celine Dion, soluble fiber, and early bedtimes. I spend my weekends DJing to packed dancefloors and very seldom do I have the conscious realization that I'm providing the soundtrack for a crowd that's often half my age. I never really stop and think, "Man, Shane, you're too old for this."
Until this week.
I just sat through the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards -- and for the life of me, I have NO idea what I've just watched. I've never felt more like an out-of-touch 44-year-old in my entire life. I am clearly a fuddy-duddy.
Thankfully, I wasn't alone. The next day, I logged onto Facebook to see a world of similar reactions from friends my own age. But don't worry, fellow 40-plussers out there. We can do this. We might be over the hill, but I'm still clinging onto that precipice for dear life. If we put our heads together and analyze this thing step by step, we might be able to figure this show out.
I've got my DVR primed, so let's get started.
Right out the gate, the show begins with Nicki Minaj shaking her assets to a new song with a chorus that goes, "Trini dem girls, dem a pat the pum pum." If you have no idea what that means, it's probably for the best. Suffice it to say that if you have a daughter, you probably won't want her patting her pum pum anytime soon in public.
But hey, what's MTV without a steady dose of titillation? We all lived through Madonna and the various ways she's shown off her pum pum over the years, so this is old news. Yawn. But then, like a magical long-legged goddess of unending media attention, Taylor Swift joins Nicki onstage. This is apparently a big deal because Nicki and Taylor have been "beefing," which sounds way worse than patting a pum pum, but apparently just means they've been bickering on Twitter.
This poignant show of togetherness and forgiveness speaks to the healing power of music and how easy it is for artists to overcome their petty differences and unite together for the greater good... for about 20 seconds, and then Miley Cyrus walks out. Miley, as you know, is the former child star of Disney's "Hannah Montana" who these days has been trying out a new career path as an icky slut. Naturally, MTV asked her to host.
Whereas Madonna's hyper-sexuality was all about image and desire and seduction, Miley's approach is more like, "Hey y'all, I'm naked 'n stuff!" Still, given a platform where she has the full attention of the 13-19 demographic, this could be her moment to make a real statement. There's something to be said for her in-your-face feminism and showing girls that it's cool to take charge and play by your own rules. This could be awesome.
Instead, Miley uses her every pulpit to remind us that she likes to smoke pot. Ooh, how edgy. And such a positive message to send to today's youth, too.
Some other stuff happens. Macklemore raps about mopeds, and it's actually pretty brilliant. The Weeknd proves that real artists don't need autotune. Nicki Minaj wins an award and somehow manages to start a new beef with Miley from the podium.
Then the clouds part and Justin Bieber literally descends from the sky. Justin made his reputation as a teen idol, and then trashed it by acting like a spoiled twat at every possible opportunity. This is Justin's make-or-break comeback, and he opts for a new song that seems vaguely rape-y in nature. "What do you mean," Justin asks, "when you nod your head yes but you wanna say no? Better make up your mind."
Kinda skeevy if you ask me, but I suppose shady songs have been around since Dean and Doris crooned "Baby It's Cold Outside." Justin ends his triumphant tour-de-force by openly weeping, presumably over how awesome he is. Only one man can save us now. One artist with the drive, ambition, skill, and talent to turn this whole night around. Sadly, though, Prince couldn't make it.
Instead, this is Kanye West's night, and the guy's earned it. As a rapper and producer, he's done more for hip-hop than any artist ever. If only he knew when to shut up.
Kanye had something important to convey on that VMA stage. Instead, he opened his mouth and spent 13 minutes giving the weirdest motivational halftime speech in history. Among his awkward truth bombs? (1) "We the millennials, bro!" (You're 38, bro. You're as millennial as me.) (2) "We not gonna control our kids with brands!" (says the guy whose wife has made a career out of being a brand.) (3) "Just worry about how you feel! And don't never! You know what I'm sayin'?" (No, I honestly don't. But keep yelling. It sounds passionate.)
As you've probably heard, he ended his speech by announcing his 2020 presidential bid. I don't think he's kidding. I am 100% in support of this move. I want to live in a world where there exists an actual chance to one day witness a Presidential debate between Donald Trump and Kanye West. I only hope I'll be young enough to appreciate it.