Dear MTV: Please Announce The Technical Awards, Or Cancel Them

Posted by Adam Fairholm on August 25, 2014 in Event Coverage

Staff Post

Last night we did what we do every year at IMVDb - dutifully watched the MTV Video Music Awards. It's the most talked about night dedicated to music videos - a big venue for the format. Not only do all the awards go to music videos (even the Artist to Watch is awarded to a music video, and not the artist themselves), it is also a big time for music video releases since the spotlight is on the format.

MTV has been criticized in the past for putting on a music video award show when they are not in the cable music video game anyone (it's a different story online, but that's beside the point). I get the sentiment, but I've always seen the VMAs as an institution outside the scope of MTV - it'd be absurd to cancel the biggest night in music videos on a technicality, and when others have tried to pick up the mantle, they've seen it's not so easy to put on a great show.

What I don't understand is what MTV is actually trying to do with the award portion of the show. MTV has 17 award categories, 6 of which it deems "professional categories," like Best Art Direction and Best Choreography. The question after last night's show is - why? Why do those categories exist?

Last night was like every other recent VMA broadcast - no mention of the pro categories at all. 

Although not really formally recognizing these categories during the broadcast, the least they could do is provide the information via official, visible public announcement, right? MTV is large organization, someone has to be taking care of this. This is a nationally television award show with less than 20 categories - 6 of which are given to professional technical categories.

Hours after the show ended, however, the MTV website only showed data for the televised winners, and all of the MTV Twitter account basically showed the exact same content (on another note, what is the point of having an @MTVPress twitter handle when both that and @MTV are tweeting about how emotional they are over Beyonce). No formal announcement of any kind.

The only way we saw that you could find out who won those categories was by following someone on Twitter who was in the press pool at the VMAs. Buzzfeed Music's Aylin Zafar managed to tweet the categories Beyonce won, while mentioning that more categories were forthcoming.

Finally, Viacom issued a press release with the information. I'm sure there were other trickles of info but that's how we found out. When we went to bed at 3am EST, MTV still hadn't updated the "Winners" section of their site. We were also told that we actually broke the news to several people that they won for pro categories.

Not only is this completely disrespectful to the nominees in these categories, it's also completely unnecessary. The 2013 VMAs are a great example of how the categories could be done. They had a quick bumper with all the pro category winners - it's engaging and takes minimal time. Again, there are only six categories and the videos in them are very popular videos with many fans - no need for a 2 hour long online pre-show like the Grammys or the technical awards in the show like the Oscars - simply tell everyone who won - on the show.

All of this begs the question - if the vast majority of people don't know who won these categories, why have them at all? It seems to be keeping these awards alive out of a sense of duty more than anything else - clearly nobody at the network has them as a priority. It feels like they are just legacy holdovers at the moment.

MTV, please get rid of the pro awards or announce them in a bumper or short segment during the show. Retiring them would be more respectful than what you are doing now. Removing them still leaves 11 awards you can give away during the broadcast (or not - Clubland Award, Best Video with a Social Message, and Best Collaboration were absent from the broadcast as well). The show as it exists now would not change one bit - sadly.

But obviously, we don't want that to happen. We're experiencing a revitalization of a music video industry that is making music videos that people love. Without great music videos, the VMAs wouldn't be the spectacle that it is. So take 15 seconds and recognize your 6 technical awards.

Adam Fairholm is the co-founder and lead developer of IMVDb. You can find him on twitter at @adamfairholm.

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