I haven’t watched MTV in years. It’s common knowledge that the network has phased the music out of its programming the way organ harvesters have dispensed with the pleasantry of leaving you in a bathtub full of ice. Train wreck TV is not my cup of tea. I don’t watch the Douchebag/Date Rape Challenge.
So why would I sit through this crap? Like many teenagers in the 90s, I enjoyed MTV. At the time, it really did seem like it my generation’s voice. I mean, c’mon: Daisy Fuentes. Yo! MTV Raps. The Maxx. Aeon Flux (before the shitty movie). Bill Clinton kinda admitted smoking pot. The churches and the parent groups HATED Beavis & Butthead, which made it even better.
And of course, there were the MTV Movie Awards. It actually took itself seriously back then, but also had a sort of renegade flare. Some early winners were Denzel Washington for Malcolm X, Tom Hanks for Philadelphia, Pulp Fiction, Seven, Menace II Society. Plus you never knew what antics some famous person was going to pull, As a budding, teenaged film buff, this was the only award show I really enjoyed.
Fast forward to 2012: MTV is has unapologetically embraced its destiny as a bloodsucking, corporate leviathan. I do not have cable or satellite. The few shows I follow are seen online or at my cousin’s house, because DirecTV and Comcast are also bloodsucking, corporate leviathans.
As a half-assed experiment, I wanted to see if I, a cynical remnant from the tail-end of Generation X, could at all relate to whatever dog and pony show the network overlords had coordinated with the movie studios via smart phone.
But since I had better things to do that Sunday night (A Game of motherfucking Thrones!) there was no way I was watching the Movie Awards live. I instead went to MTV.com and saw “the entire show on demand.”
- The abridged version consists of 40 clips. Between each one, I was forced to watch 60 seconds of advertisement. Most of these are the same 30-second commercial played twice: a crude Axe Hair tie-in with Seth MacFarlane’s questionable decision/teddy bear movie, Ted.
- So the opening act is a band called “fun.” (with a lower case f and a period). I have no idea who the hell they are. The song is somewhat less painful to take in than the frontman’s face. He is joined by singer Janelle Monae. Her face is pleasant, her voice is tolerable but her name does not ring any bells with me. This idea is already shaping up to be fantastic.
- Host Russell Brand hypes up the audience, which seems to be nothing but celebrities and young girls, by periodically shouting “Twilight!” and “Hunger Games!” I wince every time.
- Obviously, Brand is no Ricky Gervais. He launches a few Beiber/Kanye/Kardashian sex jokes as well a reference to his own failed marriage. He jokes about Michael Fassbender’s cock and stashing cocaine under Charlie Sheen’s seat. I’m really confused as to who the target demographic of this show is.
- A dead-eyed Mila Kunis and Mark Wahlberg really don’t give a shit as they present Best Onscreen Dirtbag (which apparently has replaced the Best Villain category.) Jennifer Aniston wins, who just so happens to be the biggest actor and only female nominee.
- One of the only times the between-clip ad is not for Axe Hair/Ted, they show a surprisingly hip, musical commercial for State Farm. At the end, it briefly directs me to State Farm’s facebook page if I want to see the full video. I marvel at the estranged and convoluted relationship music videos now have with MTV.
- Next clip is Sway awarding a couple of hot blondes an upgrade to the front row – sponsored by State Farm.
- Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield emerge from a huge sullen image of Spider-man to present the nominees for Breakthrough Performance. Emma Stone reads a little foulmouthed tough talk off the teleprompter to make herself seem edgy.
- Annoying animated bunny graphics are now edited into the nominee reels. I recall when they once showcased what was cool about the actors’ performances. Now they’ve spliced in little puppet shows for… what, exactly? The girl from The Descendants wins. I haven’t seen it and I can tell from the mild applause that neither has most of the audience.
- Cute-as-a-button Emma Watson and a couple of guys from a movie called The Perks of Being a Wallflower present Best Male Performance. Hunger Games guy wins. The Hilton Sisters are in the audience. I forgot they used to be a duo.
- Backstage, some dapper little dude talks about a running fan vote for the Best Hero Category as if this were election night.
- Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth come out. Stewart is not as insufferable as I had braced for. The Best Female Performance reel features cartoon kitties as Thelma & Louise. I wonder how many kids will even get that reference. Hunger Games wins. Cue Jennifer Lawerence’s 16-second pre-recorded acceptance speech shot on a couch.
- Charlie Sheen seems like he’s doing a bad Tony Stark impression. He actually tells the audience to applaud for cult classics. In a high point of the night, the camera cuts to one the Hunger Games actors candidly giving a droll, patronizing clap. Sheen claims his own life has been a party movie and compares Project X to the clusterfuck of his own psyche.
- There’s a montage of action-packed clips from Old School, House Party, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and others with a list of Party Movie Basics detailed as BEER, BABES, MORE BEER, PARTY FOULS, DESTRUCTION. It’s interesting that the reel also shows drug use but they avoid showing the word DRUGS. Either way, it’s an enthusiastic training video for all the future Amateur Night connoisseurs. Project X is then dubbed an Instant Cult Classic.
- Wiz Khalifa gives a decent performance. I’ve heard him but never actually seen him. I’m impressed by the tattoos on his ribs, which had to have hurt on a guy that skinny. But is that mustache drawn on his face?
- Keeping in line with MTV’s priorities, the Best Music category has been reduced to a 30-second nod. Sway breezes through a brief acknowledgment of the other nominees, but LMFAO is already present with their award. The song is “Party Rock Anthem” from the 21 Jump Street remake soundtrack. (Jesus Christ…) They look like an SNL parody of douchebag DJs.
- Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg and Leighton Meester from the latest Sandler flop “That’s My Boy” present Best Kiss. They give a couple of lame jokes setting up a larger joke that’s only saved by Sandler calling Meester a “whore.” Twilight wins.
- Brand cracks a joke with a censored punchline that didn’t get so much as a chuckle before introducing Steve Tyler and Joe Perry. They both look exactly like Joan Rivers. They earnestly introduce the “MTV Generation Award” for Johnny Depp. It’s a decent montage that amazingly doesn’t consist entirely of Tim Burton movies.
- Depp plays guitar with The Black Keys, incidentally making the whole MTV movie-music tango come full circle. When he accepts his golden popcorn, he has a curious humility about him (possibly stoned) that resembles old interviews of Hunter S. Thompson.
- There’s a chuckleworthy skit about an archery coach that reminds me that there used to be WAY more skits.
- Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender come out to the score of Prometheus (which doesn’t work at all for this) and perform a silly staged beating to introduce Best Fight. Warrior was nominated. Hunger Games wins.
- 21 Jump Street seems to have a LOT of nominations. Did it really perform that well?
- The backstage guy announces that Harry Potter has won the Best Hero Award. I guess it wasn’t important enough for any on-stage fanfare.
- Then there’s a whole awkward stripper bit with Channing Tatum (whose movies are getting a lot of attention tonight), Matthew McConaughey and that True Blood werewolf biker. The show is losing me.
- There’s a semi-funny collection of interviews about Emma Stone and some achievement award she’s getting. I completely zone out of her heartfelt speech.
- I’m close to aborting this abortion when Christian Bale, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Gary Oldman come out to talk about the new Batman film. A montage that apparently includes Heath Ledger is omitted from the chopped version I’m watching. Bale is choking up. They introduce Christopher Nolan, who says a few things about The Dark Knight Rises that we already know before introducing new footage from the film.
- Aaaaand OF COURSE they don’t show the fucking clip on the MTV website. What a bunch of bullshit! Despite the fact that I’ve already seen it on pirate sites a couple of time, I still feel cheated. The producers very deliberately waited till the show was basically over to reveal this little Easter egg (or lack thereof).
- The final, unexpected highlight is Jodie Foster introducing Movie of the Year. I like the play-along way she calls the award the “most prestigious”. She also “jokingly” condescends the category as “the most outrageously awesome sex scene between a vampire and a zombie from the future that also includes an explosion and some heavy petting.”
- The nominees are raced through to get to the Twilight winner speech. The audience has reached the limit of their attention span. Stewart jumps on stage to take the award like she’s retrieving bills from the mailbox. I probably don’t have a right to do this, but I cringe when werewolf boy thanks the writer of the series.
Final thoughts: Well, Music Television, you’ve reinforced that I’m too old for you, you have no soul, your audience has no taste, and movies kinda suck lately. The MTV Movie Awards seems to have devolved into a vulgar Kid’s Choice Awards. I feel there’s a lesson to be learned here if one were to trace the network’s path from a supposed symbol of defiant youth to a marketing-obsessed purveyor of mediocrity, but I fear I’ve grown too stupid in the last couple of hours to make the connection. Perhaps that was their plan all along.