From Taylor Swift’s new video to a political message from a descendant of Robert E. Lee, the 2017 MTV VMAs had plenty of action.
The first MTV Video Music Awards of the Trump presidency was about as outspoken as viewers expected.
Celebrities capitalized on the VMAs’ reputation for shocking moments and bold commentary, using their time at the microphone advocate for their chosen political causes.
VMAs host Katy Perry frequently joked about current events throughout the show, from admiring a Handmaid’s Tale costume to referencing one of her unsent tweets about a Hillary Clinton presidency.
Paris Jackson condemned white supremacists and the violent protests in Charlottesville, V.A., while presenting the best pop video award.
“You know, if we were all to put our voices together, do you know the difference we could make? If we were to stand up all united as one, our impact it would be ‘yuge,'” she said, referencing the famous Trump quote. “And that’s not fake news.”
“So, let’s leave here tonight remembering that we must show these Nazi, white supremacist jerks in Charlottesville and all over the country,” she continued. “We have zero tolerance for their violence, their hatred and their discrimination. We must resist.”
Cardi B went all in for Colin Kaepernick during her speech. (Photo: Matt Sayles, Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
Not everyone who took the VMAs stage to fight white supremacy was a celebrity. Susan Bro, whose daughter Heather Heyer died while counter-protesting a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, presented the newly-added best fight against the system award.
“Only 15 days ago, my daughter was killed as she protested racism,” she said, announcing the creation of the Heather Heyer Foundation. “I miss her, but I know she’s here tonight. I’m deeply moved to see people across the world, all over the world, be inspired by her courage.”
Bro was introduced to the stage by Reverend Robert Lee IV, a direct descendant of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee, who delivered a speech calling white supremacy “America’s original sin.”
Susan Bro (L) and Robert Wright Lee IV speak onstage. (Photo: Kevin Winter, Getty Images)
While introducing Demi Lovato’s performance, Cardi B expressed her support for Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback who remains unsigned in the NFL following his 2016 National Anthem protests.
“Colin Kaepernick, as long as you kneel for us, we’re gonna be standing with you, baby,” she said. “That’s right, I said it!”
Before performing her new single What About Us, which recently got its own politically charged video, Pink sported sashes reading “Stay Woke” and “Wake The (Expletive) Up.”
Pink’s “stay woke” sash was visible during her Video Vanguard performance. (Photo: Kevin Winter, Getty Images)
Meanwhile, the ceremony’s organizers also made a telling soundtrack choice during one commercial break, broadcasting YG’s track F Donald Trump to the audience at the Forum in Los Angeles.
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