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Sexiest Moments in MTV VMAs History

Content Warning: This article refers to a sexual assault.

Madonna’s debut album “Like a Virgin” was supposed to be her flop. At least that’s what she said. The then 26-year-old singer debuted with a single at the first MTV Video Music Awards in 1984. Dan Aykroyd and Betty Midler hosted the show. Cyndi Lauper was the most nominated artist, while Herbie Hancock received the most awards. But no one remembers. Do Do they remember? Madonna squirmed on the floor in a lace bodice and tulle skirt. “Boy’s Toys” was written on his belt.

Since their inception nearly four years ago, the VMAs have been the bad boys of awards shows, where stars meet, compete and sometimes find common ground. “It’s very different from your dad’s music career,” MTV co-founder John Sykes told Uproxx in 2015.

The show has always been sexy too. A few naked costumes and performance stunts come to mind, but these performances are rarely meaningless: Many people use sex in their performances to regain power, make feminist rhetoric or assert their independence.

It started the first year with Madonna and the Lost Stilettos. The pop icon slipped off a three-tiered cake at the start of the performance, but as she approached the stage, her shoes slipped. “So I thought, ‘Okay, I’m gonna act like I’m gonna do this,’ and I hit my head on the floor and rolled,” Madonna said on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” in 2012. for the shoes and skirt rises. The panties are exposed. I did not do it on purpose. ”

The public at the time was shocked. Madonna’s team is scrambling for a race, and her manager, Fred Didedman, says her career will be over. “I can’t count what happened,” Madonna said, “and since I don’t have a real career yet, I don’t feel like I’ve lost anything.” Of course, it didn’t work that way. In fact, when “Like a Virgin” hits the Billboard Hot 100 in a few months, it will stay at No. 1 for six weeks.

The following artists have attempted to recreate the inescapable moment with varying degrees of success: Lil’ Kim and the Purple Pie in 1999; Britney Spears and her python in 2001; Normani and Teyana Taylor in 2021. With help from Spears and Christina Aguilera, even Madonna was trying to top herself in 2003.

However, the stars’ antics at the VMAs aren’t always well received. MTV in particular came under fire in 2004: Less than a year earlier, Madonna kissed Spears and Aguilera at the awards show opener, then Janet Jackson’s troubled halftime show in the network-produced Super Bowl halftime show. Cabinet malfunction.

Conservative audiences felt that about MTV. The complaint was forwarded to the Federal Communications Commission. The American Family Association calls for a boycott of MTV sponsors. AFA President Don Wildmon said at the time: “MTV blatantly targets our children with programming that continues to encourage sexual promiscuity, dishonesty, drunkenness, rudeness, rebellion and blasphemy.”

MTV hasn’t been shy about taking the backlash one would expect from a network that prides itself on upsetting the status quo. After a season of intense controversy, MTV reportedly pulled potentially sensitive parts and the label released a provocative music video. “Laguna Beach” barely happened after the school board started reconsidering. An MTV spokesperson acknowledged the criticism, telling Rolling Stone, “We have to pay attention to what’s happening in the culture.”

But where is the anger when male performers affirm gender? Why wasn’t the news cycle devoted to Eminem performing “The Real Slim Shady” almost exclusively in 2000? Why was Miley Cyrus criticized for squirming at the 2013 VMAs instead of Robin Thicke (older) hinting he was standing behind her? “Even the people around me were really judging me,” Cyrus told The New York Times years later. “People I really like and consider my friends judge me for it.”

Cyrus asked that his partner was not criticized. “It’s funny because I get so much attention for that, but that’s just being a woman. He acts like he doesn’t know this is going to happen. You repeat! You know exactly what’s going to happen. It is also claimed that the Sikh chose his infamous outfit – a nude latex bra and underwear – because it matched the nudity in his (now maligned) “Blurred Lines” music video. that I’m as naked as possible,” Cyrus said.

Hick just laughed it off. “The goal is to inspire, provoke and entertain,” he told The Star a few weeks after the ceremony. “I thought it was silly and funny. She was humorous and mischievous. But it wasn’t sexually charged at all.

The sad reality is that while the VMAs are fun and frivolous, they also have a dark side. One of the most memorable outfits to appear at the awards show was a black thong and sheer dress worn by Rose McGowan in 1998. It was considered a provocative and boundary-pushing stunt, but it was in fact a form of protest against Harvey Weinstein, who allegedly assaulted her the previous year.

“It was my first public appearance since I was sexually assaulted. I was like, ‘Is this what you want?’ “, McGowan said on “The Dr. Oz Show” in 2018. “I’ve never worn anything like this before or since. It was a political statement. Of course, there was no Twitter or from Instagram at the time, no way to speak for yourself.

(It should be noted that McGowan, who attended the VMAs with her then-boyfriend Marilyn Manson, is now facing allegations of sexual abuse and assault. “I am very sad and disgusted today “, McGowan said in Manson’s allegation. “When he’s with me, he’s not like that, but it’s like he’s been like everyone else before or after.” In his note, McGowan said wrote, “When I say Hollywood is a cult, I mean the entertainment industry, including the music industry, is a cult. [sic] Protect the top from rot. ”)

Granted, the VMAs, and awards shows in general, have lost some of their spectacle in recent years. For attendees, viral moments were harder to come by, and the pandemic certainly didn’t help, as the 2020 awards ceremony was held entirely virtually. Even so, ratings for that year were higher than those for 2021, which fell below 1 million viewers for the first time. (By comparison, the top-rated VMAs of 2011 drew more than 12 million viewers.)

However, the show’s social engagement and cross-platform viewership are growing as media habits change. And sex appeal is still thriving. For at least a year on the show, Megan Fox cemented her return to the spotlight with a new addition to the nude classic. Later that night, Normani asked Taylor to do a gravity-defying lap dance in tribute to Jackson. So the show isn’t taming, but the audience is probably getting more and more numb.

Ahead of the 2022 MTV VMAs on August 28, take a look back at some of the show’s sexiest moments to date.

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