In the interest of journalistic transparency, I must reveal that I just bought a Crock Pot. What's worse, I'm really excited about it.
Naysayers will whine that this disqualifies me from having anything meaningful to say about the VMAs, but MTV's core demographic (12-24) isn't reading this anyway; at least not after reading the words "crock" and "pot" so close together.
This column is for the Gen-Xer who cried on her 25th birthday because she was no longer eligible to be in the cast of "The Real World"; this is for the now-balding, beer-bellied dude who still has his checkered Vans and black Member's Only jacket that he got for Christmas in '86.
Actually, MTV isn't even in its own core demographic anymore, having just turned 25, but the forever-young network has a recipe for success that you won't find in the back of my Crock Pot's manual.
MTV uses incremental cosmetic changes that give the illusion of evolution. You see, MTV never really changes. But we do. Those of us who are unwillingly approaching 35 are on the fringe of MTV's revolving-door audience and we are being ushered out politely with a retrospective:
THE '80s ==> THE '00s
Fat gold ropes ==> Fat diamond-studded gold ropes Michael Jackson caught on fire ==> Jack Black caught on fire Dudes wearing eyeliner Big Daddy Kane ==> Danity Kane Debbie and Tiffany ==> Britney and Christina Charles Barkley ==> Gnarls Barkley Da' Butt ==> My Humps Blue hair The death of Disco ==> Panic! At the Disco ZZ Top played with The Raconteurs Guns 'N' Roses ==> Axl Rose Weaves Buster Poindexter ==> Busta Rhymes Elton John ==> Lance Bass Your momma is so fat she sat on a quarter and left two dimes and a nickel ==> Wilmer Valderrama Vanessa Williams ==> Vanessa Minnillo Gold lamé Phillie Blunts ==> James Blunt Traci Lords ==> Paris Hilton Video Killed the Radio Star ==> Internet Killed the Video Star
Gideon Yago was a red bowtie and a shave away from morphing into '80s icon Pee Wee Herman while Justin Timberlake's dance moves and falsetto took me back 20 years to a gloved MJ with Webster tucked under his arm like a newspaper.
Then there were some '80s holdouts who just never left: Madonna, LL Cool J and Kurt Loder.
However, the throwback I could have done without was formaldehyde-soaked John Norris, whose whole head was as orange as Lil' Kim's prison jumpsuit. Norris looked like a Jack-o-lantern that got its traffic cone-colored wig chopped at SuperCuts.
Despite Norris being so horrifying to look at, the VMAs got a lot right, such as Jack Black's opening.
Black: "This show has been laying farts for the last 20 years and I'm gonna light the match!"
Announcer's intro: "Since the beginning of recorded history, the MTV Music Video Awards have all sucked ..."
And Sarah Silverman busting on Paris Hilton was priceless: "You seriously need to lose weight, OK? It's bad. You're like bigger than the fat Olsen twin. I can't even see the bones in your back. It's gross. I'm worried about you. You're clearly eating your feelings."
Still, a couple more ingredients could have made the show even better:
But who am I to judge? Sure, I've watched MTV since the days of Martha Quinn and JJ Jackson up to now, as it eats its own tail. It's easy to sit here, smug in my middle age and 401(k), and laugh at the VMA spectacle because I no longer feel I'm included.
But the truth is that I'd happily trade my Crock Pot to shed the past 10 years and be 24 again, forever young like music television.
Goodbye MTV, 35 is calling … and so is my slow-cooked pot roast.
By Robb Todd