The thing about award shows is that they're all horrible. All of them. Every single award show is horrible. Which, I think, is why we watch them. We want to see rambling, incoherent speeches. We like awkward banter that allows us to feel superior in our own wit that's probably never been tested in front of an audience of millions. We get excited about the clothes that attendees are wearing, knowing that the shorts with the hole in the butt that we wear to walk our dog will never be analyzed by millions of at-home viewers. Award shows are horrible because we are horrible. But that's ok! We're human. We need to find some way to entertain ourselves before we die, right? Right. And this coming Sunday, we can do that by watching the MTV Video Music Awards, live in Brooklyn. But how ever should we entertain ourselves in the meantime? Well, why don't we take a look back at ten of the most cringe-worthy moments of VMA past. Prepare to feel so uncomfortable that rushing toward doom doesn't seem so bad after all.
Andrew Dice Clay; 1989
I know what you're thinking—who? Well, Andrew Dice Clay, as far as I can tell, was a pretty popular comic in the late 80s/early 90s. Which, the next time you're feeling nostalgic for the 90s, stop and think of this guy. He was really popular back then. Anyway, Dice Clay (who is currently making a bit of a comeback, appearing in Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen's latest film) performed some stand-up that was so misogynistic and offensive that he was banned from MTV for life. I don't have a video clip from the awards show, but I do have one of just his regular standup routine, some of which he replicated at the awards. And it's...not funny. It's just embarrassing to watch and think about the fact that people once found this funny. It's not funny. It's terrible.
Howard Stern/Fartman; 1992
It's always awkward when a man exposes his bare, dimpled ass to an unsuspecting audience. But that's exactly what Howard Stern did in 1992, when he appeared at the awards show as Fartman, and presented an award with Luke Perry. Oh my god 1992, you were so long ago. As subtle and witty as Howard's stunt seems now (crazy subtle and witty, right?), it was far ahead of its time, and thus the audience didn't know what to do and certainly didn't laugh all that much. Watch below. Enjoy Luke Perry!
Nirvana, "Rape Me"; 1992
What a year 1992 was. You know who else was at this awards show besides Howard Stern, Luke Perry, and Nirvana? Bobby Brown. Michael Jackson. Kris Kross. Wilson Phillips. Basically, everyone. Anyway, this performance became legendary because Nirvana started playing "Rape Me," which MTV had expressly forbidden, before launching into "Lithium." After playing, Krist Novoselic smashed his bass and Dave Grohl tried to get Axl Rose on stage for a brawl. It was awkward, if also fucking brilliant. But definitely watch the video below which ends with Dana Carvey and Phil Hartman (RIP) impersonating then-political rivals George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. It's pretty incredible. [CORRECTION: It's Ed McMahon and Johnny Carson, and ohmygod you guys, I need to not write posts at 3 in the morning anymore. Sorry.]
Madonna: "I don't even really have any gold records on the wall, it's not my style."
Kurt Loder: "Oh, what is your style?"
Madonna: "Picasso. Léger. You know, stuff like that."
Terrible! Awkward! Thank god for Courtney, she saved that awkward moment.
Fiona Apple; 1997
Ah, Fiona. All she wanted to do was be like Maya Angelou and "create opportunities." She just wanted everyone to know that "this world is bullshit" and to "go with yourself." But people just didn't know how to deal with that. And so they didn't know how to respond. Oh, there was clapping at the time. But not a lot. Not as much as there should have been. Because, you know what? That world is all bullshit. And Andrew Slater was the only one who produced her record. Suck on that, world. Go with yourselves. That's all. Just go with yourselves.
Triumph the Insult Comic Dog; 2002
It's the classic struggle of man versus puppet. Who will win? Hard to say, right? Just kidding. Puppets always win. Especially when the puppet is controlled by the hand of Robert Smigel and the man is Eminem. The video is not available for embedding, but you can watch the whole sorry scene here. Watch it and feel terrible that some men feel the need to fight with puppets. Also feel terrible that Christina Aguilera had no one around her to hide the self-tanner.
Michael Jackson; 2002
This was hard to watch. First, it involves not only Michael Jackson thinking that a tacky, glittery piece of crap was an award for being "Artist of the Millennium," which led to him making a terribly sincere speech. But also? Britney Spears is wearing some really unfortunate black leather gear (including a truly tragic hat) that just makes her look like the lamest dominatrix ever. Awful. Especially because the girl can NOT walk in heels. Like, at all. But really, the worst part is when Michael thanks David Blaine because "his magic is real" and Michael "believes in him."
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