Where are Eminem and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog when you need them?
Despite Shakira’s ever-gyrating hips, Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack” and the obscured image of a naked midget, Thursday night’s MTV Video Music Awards had about as much spontaneity as an episode of “Cribs.”
“You didn’t bring the thunder. You didn’t bring anything,” host Jack Black, looking at himself in his dressing room mirror, said during one skit, unintentionally summing up the evening.
James Blunt and Gnarls Barkley each took home two awards. Pink’s parody of bubble-headed pop tarts, “Stupid Girls,” won for best pop video, Beyonce took home the best R&B video trophy for her booty-shaking “Check On It” and Fall Out Boy won the viewer’s choice award for “Dance, Dance.”
But nobody except a video choreographer’s mother watches this show for the awards. Fans watch for the FCC-flaunting skits, nearly naked starlets, foul-mouthed speeches and those embarassingly bad dance numbers.
They do NOT watch for lectures from former Vice President Al Gore on global warming. When does the phrase “here’s a photo of a glacier melting” ever fit into an awards show?
Somewhere along the way, the MTV Awards seemed to have morphed into the Grammys.
Christina Aguilera, who previously shocked our senses as the dirty Xtina, looked downright classy as she performed a low-key ballad. And there were no wardrobe malfunctions whatsoever during Timberlake’s perfunctory show kickoff.
“This show has been lame farts for the past 20 years,” Black said before he took the stage Thursday night for his opening sketch. “And I’m going to light the match!”
Instead, Black continued a trend.
But Black’s shtick quickly got old. Even Lil’ Kim, who once appeared at the VMAs wearing a pasty on one breast, failed to get the party started. Recently released from prison after serving time for perjury, she stripped off an orange jail suit to reveal ... something that resembled a funky business suit. Hillary Clinton has worn more revealing outfits.
A bit too normal
The only unscripted moment of mayhem came when some unidentified person crashed the acceptance speech of Panic! At the Disco, who won video of the year for “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.” Before any group member got to say a word, the crasher took the mic, giving shout outs to rapper Remy Ma and saying, “MTV never gave me my own show!” before handing the mic over to the winners.
But that still fell short of MTV’s once trademark water-cooler moments, like Eminem punching out a puppet. Instead, the disturbing trend of normalcy continued.
Shakira and Wyclef Jean performed a colorful but rote performance of her smash “Hips Don’t Lie”; Ludacris and Pharrell posed their way through “Showstopper.” Not even Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, who appeared via videotape, could strike a spark.
There was just one profanity-laced acceptance speech, courtesy of the rock group AFI, whose frontman accepted the award for best group video by saying: “We just won a moonman — I am getting so trashed tonight!”
The night’s hottest new couple, new buddies 50 Cent and LL Cool J, introduced one of the awards. But 50, perhaps with no more foes to beef with, was almost Zen-like onstage and offered no fun disses to excite the crowd.
The lack of outrageousness almost made you long for the days when Michael Jackson was making out with Lisa Marie Presley — that was creepy, but at least it kept us talking.
Beyonce got some points for at least trying to do deliver a show-stopper. Singing her call-to-arms, the anti-cheating single “Ring the Alarm,” she appeared wearing a sexy trench coat and a searing gaze.
But while her voice was in perfect form, the performance was disjointed, and the out-of-place dance number in the middle seemed to steal the choreography from Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” almost 20 years earlier.
At one point, the crew from the MTV grossout show “Jackass” gave one of its members an electric shock.
If only they could have delivered a similar jolt to the whole show.