So I’m here to get an education. And living with three girls in their early 20s is definitely providing that. My first lesson has been in popular music culture.
Now back home my listening habits include ABC Local Radio, with the occasional foray into Australia’s youth radio station – “We. Love. Music.” – Triple J. I like these stations because neither plays the Top 40 pop music I mostly try to avoid. But on Sunday night in an attempt to get to know my new roomies a little better, I joined the girls on the sofas in our communal living room to watch MTV’s VMAs.* The last time I even thought about music videos was probably when Michael Jackson released Black or White, featuring Home Alone child star Macauley Culkin, back in 1991. But in the spirit of forming new friendships, I was ready to watch and learn.
The great anticipation in our household was that boy band ‘N SYNC were reforming for the first time since 2002. And 23 year-old roomie was especially excited. “It feels like Christmas morning and I’m about to open my present” because ‘N SYNC were “part of my childhood”. She was literally jumping out of her pink PJs with excitement. Her enthusiasm was infectious. A secret Google search was made by me to remember exactly who ‘N SYNC was yielded this.
Unfortunately I had to look, so you do too.
The VMAs were held in Brooklyn, because New York City is like sooooooo 2012. Prior to the ceremony there was, of course, a red carpet special in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge. The MTV VJs** were busy interviewing all sorts of music artists I had never heard of, such as a guy called Robin Thicke, and others I have but try to ignore, such as One Direction. But then along came Miley Cyrus. Her name was on my radar as Billy Ray’s little girl, and the sugar-sweet Disney child star Hannah Montana. Ten minutes into the VMA broadcast I quickly learned that the Hannah Montana persona was over, and Miley wanted the world to know that she was all-grown-up-now. I sat in horror with my roomies as we watched as she “performed”. My 20-something roomies and I were pretty disgusted by her writhing, thrusting and scantily clad attire. (You will have to Google it yourself, because I can’t bring myself to graffiti my blog page with the images!).
But 20-something roomies were even more disturbed that Miley was posing provocatively for the aforementioned artist Robin Thicke, performing on stage with her, because apparently he was “way, way too old”. I did another secret Google search and kept my mouth closed after discovering that Robin Thicke was practically my age.
Once we dissected the reasons Miley could have for putting on such a display, checked the Twitter-verse and Buzz Feed to see what memes had already sprouted, we returned attention to the VMAs and my education continued. I learned that the statue is called a “Moon Man”. I learned that there is an award for the music video with the “Best Social Message”. Congrats BTW to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for ‘Same Love’. I learned that every camera shot poised for audience reaction focused on Taylor Swift, Will Smith, or 1D.
But most importantly, I learned that an artist I actually knew, and liked, was also hugely popular among my roomies. At last, common ground! Thank you Justin Timberlake. As recipient of the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award he gave a 20-minute stellar performance. He is one classy, sexy, and talented artist. You too can enjoy it here.***
*If you’re not down with the lingo, that mean the Music Television channel was broadcasting a ceremony for the best Music Video Awards of the past year.
***If you are 25 or under, skip to 9:22 for ‘N SYNC reunion.