For an awards show that has taken steps in recent years to de-emphasize gender — retiring the Best Male and Best Female categories, rebranding its signature astronaut-inspired trophy as a Moonperson — the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards were practically split in a guys’ portion and a ladies’ portion, with a string of male performers warming up the stage for a group of women who clearly ruled it.
The 35th iteration of the show, which returned to Radio City Music Hall for the 12th time, kicked off with not a bang but something more like a monsoon: Shawn Mendes held his own wet t-shirt contest with a rain-soaked performance of “In My Blood.” Newcomer Bazzi had no shortage of national-TV exposure as he followed up with “Beautiful,” his second performance in the evening following a bout during the pre-show not long before. Logic, with the help of Ryan Tedder, aimed for yet another statement-making moment with a performance addressing U.S. immigration policy. And then Panic! at the Disco made a stylish and energetic performance that began suspended in the air. The performances were solid, sure, but at times they didn’t feel any more vital to the show than presenters’ bits and banter, or some of the evening’s early acceptance speeches.
You also may notice that all of those performers have something in common. It took almost 45 minutes for the show to get to a performance by a woman: rising star Jessie Reyez, one of several Push Artist of the Year nominees who were given brief time slots — and even smaller stages — to introduce themselves to a larger audience. (One highlight? Hayley Kiyoko, the category’s ultimate winner, who breezed through an abridged version of her song “Curious” after charming the red carpet with shout-outs to her #20GAYTEEN slogan.) And it wasn’t until Nicki Minaj performed a medley of songs from her Queen album in a pre-taped, remote segment that it felt like the VMAs truly got started.
That’s no shade to Mendes by any means — it’s just that, when you think of classic VMAs moments and performances, you probably don’t think of young instrument-playing pop-rock artists showing off their musical chops and credibility. You think of the spectacle, which is what Minaj delivered with her phalynx of dancers and monarch-inspired attire from New York’s Oculus transportation hub. Minaj’s pal and frequent collaborator Ariana Grande had a similar sumptuous set, recreating an all-female version of The Last Supper with slow-motion choreography that turned the VMAs stage into a living music video during “God Is a Woman,” from her just-released Sweetener LP.
And then there was J. Lo. When MTV announced that Jennifer Lopez would be this year’s recipient of the Video Vanguard Award, many on the Internet seemed more concerned with crying justice for Missy Elliott, who was the subject of such inexplicably persistent rumors about the honor that she felt compelled to shoot down the chatter on Twitter. But as the first Latinx recipient of the video Vanguard Award — and during a year in which MTV introduced a Best Latin category — Lopez’s latest accolade isn’t insignificant. And in her first VMAs performance since 2001, she offered an abridged version of her Las Vegas residency show with a career-spanning medley that served the choreography you expected and the impressive live vocals you probably didn’t.
The only part of Lopez’s crowning moment that felt off was the person who introduced her and handed her the award: Shawn Mendes, whose connection to her as an artist is… well, what exactly? It was hardly the only odd-couple pairing of the evening: Producers shoe-horned in a tribute to Aretha Franklin by having Madonna come out and monologue about what Franklin meant to her. The Queen of Pop has a personal connection to the Queen of Soul beyond their shared Detroit roots — in typically wry fashion, Madonna shared a story about how singing Aretha Franklin helped her make an impression at an audition that set her career in motion. But the optics weren’t great, considering Madonna’s award-show history of delivering occasionally self-centered homages to black legends, and indeed, most of her tribute to Franklin was spent celebrating her own tenacity during her early days as a starving artist.
It wasn’t hard to figure out what Madonna’s original primary purpose was: handing out the video of the year award, which went to Camila Cabello for “Havana.” The singer was hardly the frontrunner in the category, which saw her go up against Childish Gambino’s much-dissected “This Is America” clip and the private Louvre party that was the Carters’ “Apeshit” — competitors who also weren’t in attendance.
But as surprising as it may have been, viewing the win as an at-large endorsement for Cabello is consistent with the show’s waning emphasis on actual music videos. That’s a perennial MTV complaint, sure, but that shift has certainly been reflected in the categories: Last year, the show introduced the artist of the year award, and the song of the year award followed this year — two star-studded categories whose nominees aren’t attached to particular videos. And the most teased and hyped award of the night wasn’t video of the year, either — it was best new artist, which came down to Cardi B and Hayley Kiyoko and, in what was no great shock to anyone given her unstoppable year, went to Cardi.
By the time Cabello won the evening’s big honor (her second award of the night), the show had returned to a male-performances-only third act with mixed results. Travis Scott’s tech-heavy Astroworld medley never quite found its footing, while a sponsored Lauv performance that played during a commercial break after the Madonna-Cabello segment was jarringly anticlimactic. (A Madonna monologue is a tough act to follow for anyone, let alone a still-rising artist fulfilling a brand partnership.) The home stretch wasn’t without bright spots, including Aerosmith — who, despite all the head-scratching news of their performance probably inspired, pulled off a lively grand finale by teaming up with Post Malone for a ripping rendition of “Toys in the Attic.” Still, when it came to this year’s oddly segregated run of show, it’s clear that — to paraphrase the song Grande performed — the women were the deities.
Capitol Rioter Screams at Cops Asking Them to Call for Backup to Combat Mob
Not every Trumper at the U.S. Capitol was down with the siege … or at least so it appears based on this one MAGA cap-wearing man’s convo with Capitol Police in the middle of the riot.
Check out this clip that just surfaced from Jan. 6, when the guy approached a group of Capitol Police officers who were standing off to the side … while the mob stormed into the building.
The man’s words here are telling … he asks why the cops are letting this happen, and why they haven’t called for backup — noting this is the U.S. FREAKIN’ CAPITOL THAT’S BEING INVADED, and that these people storming it are “out for blood.”
Anyway, the officers didn’t seem to respond at all, and the man continued his diatribe … telling them that if no extra help was on the way, it means they don’t care about what’s happening to the Capitol.
The whole thing is pretty ironic — a clear Trump supporter right in the thick of the action denouncing the act of breaching the premises. Now, we have no idea what his motives were here, or if he was genuinely separating himself from the illegal activity.
We’ll say this … he does seem to rejoin the mob as the video ends, but we have no way of knowing if he actually went inside the Capitol.
As we first reported, the FBI is investigating a possible Capitol inside job that allowed the siege to take place. And, of course, the Capitol Police Chief resigned too … not to mention multiple suspensions and firings that have taken place since.
Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell says Trump provoked deadly Capitol riot
- President Donald Trump and others provoked the swarms of his supporters that stormed the U.S. Capitol, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
- “The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
- McConnell’s remarks came as he and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer work to hash out details on Trump’s impending impeachment trial.
- The remarks also came the day before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in as president.
President Donald Trump and others provoked the swarms of his supporters that stormed the U.S. Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday.
“The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people,” McConnell said on the Senate floor, which two weeks earlier had been evacuated after the crowd of rioters invaded the building.
The remarks from McConnell, R-Ky., came as he and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., worked to hash out details on Trump’s impending impeachment trial. Trump was impeached in the Democrat-led House last week in a 232-197 vote, with 10 Republicans voting in favor of impeachment.
Trump is the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice.
The GOP leader made the direct link between the Republican president’s rhetoric and the Jan. 6 riot, which left five dead, the day before President-elect Joe Biden was set to be sworn in as the 46th president.
McConnell has rebuffed pressure from Democrats to hold that trial before Trump leaves office, but he has told colleagues that he is undecided on whether Trump should be convicted in the Senate for inciting the riot.
McConnell’s remarks also suggested that other leaders bore responsibility for the attack. A growing chorus of critics have called on some lawmakers, especially GOP Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, to resign after they objected to key states’ electoral results.
McConnell had congratulated Biden on his victory in mid-December, more than a month after the Nov. 3 election.
The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on McConnell’s latest remarks.
Trump, who exhorted the crowd at a rally outside the White House to “fight like hell” and head to the Capitol to overturn the 2020 election, has insisted that his remarks just before the riot were “totally appropriate.”
In that speech, Trump repeated the incendiary and false claim that he had been robbed of reelection by widespread electoral fraud. He once again vowed that he would never concede to Biden, and he urged his supporters to go to the Capitol to “cheer on” Republican lawmakers who had vowed to object to the results.
“We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong,” Trump also said.
Many of his supporters attending that rally walked directly across the National Mall to the Capitol, where a joint session of Congress had convened to confirm Biden’s Electoral College victory. Rioters broke through barricades and lines of law enforcement officers and entered the Capitol, forcing Congress into hiding. Among them was Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over the event.
After McConnell’s remarks, Schumer said on the Senate floor that “Donald Trump should not be eligible to run for office ever again.”
“Healing and unity will only come if there is truth and accountability,” Schumer said.
“There will be an impeachment trial in the United States Senate, there will be a vote on convicting the president for high crimes and misdemeanors, and if the president is convicted, there will be a vote on barring him from running again,” Schumer said.
Trump, who has acknowledged the coming end to his one term in office without conceding to Biden, has not called his successor, nor has he invited him to the White House before the inauguration.
Pence last week called Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to congratulate her and offer his assistance before she is sworn in.
Investigators looking into planning of Capitol riot
Federal authorities are working to determine the level of planning and coordination among insurgents, including members of law enforcement and the military, that carried out the attack last week on the US Capitol, law enforcement officials said.Among the questions federal prosecutors and investigators are pursuing: Was there a plan to capture and hold hostage members of Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose name was invoked in angry chants by people who stormed a joint session of Congress to try to stop certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump. People in military-style gear, some carrying zip-tie restraints, were seen in videos and photos participating in the ransacking of the Capitol, raising the question of whether capturing lawmakers — or even Vice President Mike Pence — was the goal, according to a federal law enforcement official.
Two men carrying plastic restraints during Capitol riot charged by fedsActing US Attorney Michael Sherwin told NPR that “hundreds” of people could be facing charges, from destruction of property to murder, for participating in the insurrection. Sherwin said that there would be some challenges because hundreds of suspects were able to leave the scene.”I don’t want this tyranny of labels saying this was sedition, this was a coup,” Sherwin said.Before the Trump rally on Wednesday, federal and local law enforcement agencies shared raw intelligence showing that some people associated with extremist groups, including some with White supremacist ideologies, were expected to flock to Washington at Trump’s urging, according to law enforcement officials briefed on the intelligence. One official said the regional level intelligence reports were broadly shared, including with the US Capitol Police. But the officials said, none of the intelligence reports suggested any plots to attack the Capitol. Much of the information was so-called open-source reporting, based on social media and extremist sites on the Internet, where discussions among planned rally-goers shared some of Trump’s false claims about a stolen election.close dialog
“It was a lot of noise, like there always is,” said one federal law enforcement official who reviewed intelligence reports from before the Trump rally.More than 20 arrests on federal charges made since Wednesday have largely focused on some of the relatively easy to identify insurrectionists, many of whom proudly posted on social media or even livestreamed their participation, law enforcement officials said.The harder work now is to try to build potential domestic terrorism cases against people who helped engineer the attack, one federal law enforcement official said.In a news conference Friday, a federal prosecutor in Washington told reporters that investigators in some cases are using initial charges to try to arrest people, while they continue to investigate what other possible charges to bring.That includes looking into possible foreign ties for some suspects; one woman arrested asked for a Russian translator during her court hearing last week.”The goal here is to really to identify people and get them at least what we call placeholder charges initially and then we look deeper into how these individuals came here, how much planning was involved, and any actors domestic or foreign,” said Ken Kohl, the acting principal assistant US Attorney in Washington.Amid that effort is an equally urgent one to prepare for more potential violence from groups that are planning to come to Washington before and during the Biden inauguration.The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies are redoubling efforts to try to identify people who could be planning violence.The fact Wednesday’s mob managed to overwhelm an unprepared Capitol Police force has likely emboldened others who may want to try something similar either in Washington, or in states around the country, officials say. That includes foreign terrorist groups that have always had the US Capitol as a top target.