MTV VMAs: A Sexual Retrospective

MTV VMAs: A Sexual Retrospective
Jena Ardell

We're not sure why parents are in an uproar over Miley's VMA performance since sexual content has been a staple on MTV for over twenty years. Let's look back on controversial VMA performances from twenty and ten years ago.

See also: The Funniest 2013 MTV Video Music Awards Tweets

1993: An androgynous Madonna kicked off the Video Music Awards wearing a tuxedo and top hat, performing a sexually suggestive routine for "Bye Bye Baby," which included choreographed lap dances with female backup dancers who were spanked during the routine.

2003: The Russian duo t.A.t.u. (who led people to believe they were lesbian lovers) performed "Not Gonna Get Us," which concluded with hoards of school girls stripping down to white panties and tank tops, kissing one another.

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2013: A furry-friendly Miley Cyrus twerked against Robin Thicke while getting frisky with a foam hand. The ex-Disney star, who can't seem to keep her tongue in her mouth, has become a news spectacle. 'Did Miley's performance break her daddy's achy-breaky heart?' newscasters ask, prompting the public poll in on Twitter.

Not all famous musicians/pop stars are meant to be role models; they are products who sell products. Changing or blocking the channel, to shield underage eyes, is always an option for a concerned parent or clergyman. We'd allow our teen to watch the VMAs over reruns of 'Two and a Half Men', which at times, contains content that is even more inappropriate than a 20-something shaking her ass in a flesh-colored plastic bikini.

We think Miley was afraid to be upstaged by Lady Gaga, so she played all of her cards on the VMAs. Tongue outside of mouth, check. Face this close to another woman's ass, check. Pretending a foam finger was a penis, check. She's so 'edgy' it hurts, but her behavior wasn't exactly ground-breaking.

Here's what concerns us more...   What concerns us more than sexuality on TV (besides real-life violence and environmental injustices) is the state of the music industry. Remember when music was primarily written by the artists who performed the songs (FYI: "We Can't Stop" was originally written for Rihanna) and music videos contained a deeper message than "Robin Thicke has a big dick"?

Twenty years ago, Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" won the Video of the Year in 1993. The music video depicted the ugly consequences of bullying, as children watched, in horror, a classmate committing suicide. Appropriate for children? Not at all. Effective lesson in the dangers of bullying? Yes. Perhaps it would have won an award in the present-day VMA category 'Best Video with a Social Message'.

And what happened to alternative rock? Video Music Awards winners from 1993 also included Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots and Aerosmith. Now, 'Alternative Rock' is no longer a VMA catagory (it hasn't been for years). Other defunct catagories include: Breakthrough Video; Concept Video; Monster Single of the Year; Most Experimental Video; R&B Video; Rap Video; and Viewer's Choice Award.

Alt rock and music videos are missing from MTV, but sexuality is, and will always be, omnipresent. What you see on MTV is meant to be entertainment. Viewers shouldn't be surprised when pop stars push boundaries in order to gain attention. It's alarming that Miley Cyrus's antics trump Japan's two-year-plus nuclear disaster (which threatens mankind) as a top news story. Let's just take the VMAs for what they are: chewing gum for the eyes.

Retrospective list of VMA winners from 20 years ago, 10 years ago, and present day...   Video of the Year 1993: Pearl Jam - "Jeremy" Video of the Year, 2003: Missy Elliott -- "Work It" Video of the Year 2013: Justin Timberlake - "Mirrors"

Best Male Video 1993: Lenny Kravitz - "Are You Gonna Go My Way" Best Male Video, 2003: Justin Timberlake -- "Cry Me a River" Best Male Video 2013: Bruno Mars - "Locked Out of Heaven"

Best Female Video, 1993: k.d. lang - "Constant Craving" Best Female Video, 2003: Beyoncé (featuring Jay-Z) -- "Crazy in Love" Best Female Video, 2013: Taylor Swift - "I Knew You Were Trouble"

Best Metal/Hard Rock Video, 1993: Pearl Jam - "Jeremy" Best Rock Video, 2003: Linkin Park -- "Somewhere I Belong" Best Rock Video, 2013: Thirty Seconds to Mars - "Up in the Air"

Best Rap Video, 1993: Arrested Development - "People Everyday" Best Rap Video, 2003: 50 Cent -- "In da Club" Best Rap Video, 2013: Category n/a

Best Hip-Hop Video, 1993: Category n/a Best Hip-Hop Video, 2003: Missy Elliott -- "Work It" Best Hip-Hop Video, 2013: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (featuring Ray Dalton) -- "Can't Hold Us"

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