MTV awards: pop culture run amok

Style trumps substance at annual celebration of music videos

Friday, September 8, 2000

— Foul-mouthed rapper Eminem performed "The Real Slim Shady" while walking into Radio City Music Hall with an army of lookalikes Thursday, then walked out with the top honors on the MTV Video Music Awards.

Along the way, pop music's annual wild party lived up to its reputation with a high-altitude stagecrasher, profane jokes that tested the censor's trigger finger and a winner who admitted she hated making videos.

Eminem's signature song was named video of the year and best male video. He rapped it while walking in off Sixth Avenue, where earlier in the evening a gay rights group protested his violent lyrics.

"I'm going to take this home and put it right between my Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera posters," he said while toting his trophy, mentioning the two teen singers he has ridiculed in song.

Another Eminem nemesis, the pop band 'N Sync, took home three trophies, including best pop video and viewer's choice for their marionette clip, "Bye Bye Bye."

Slinky soul star Aaliyah, rock veterans Red Hot Chili Peppers, Macy Gray and Bjork each won two awards. Eminem shared a third award with protege Dr. Dre.

While Limp Bizkit accepted the award for best rock video, a long-haired gatecrasher appeared sitting atop a stage prop about 10 feet above them. The audience chanted "jump, jump" as security guards tried to get him down.

MTV later identified him as Timmy C, the bass player for the rock band, Rage Against the Machine. He was dragged out of Radio City Music Hall by police, handcuffed and arrested for trespassing, according to the New York police.

Hosts Shawn and Marlon Wayans had several profanities bleeped out by sensitive censors, who even screened out the name of "The Sopranos" television character, Big Pussy. Aerosmith's Steven Tyler had a lewd joke about an MTV personality partly censored.

It was typical for the annual awards ceremony, where making a dramatic impression is more important than taking home an award.

One of the best jokes was unspoken: Napster founder Shawn Fanning appearing on stage in a Metallica t-shirt. The heavy metal band is leading the fight to stop Fanning's Internet song-sharing service.

"Nice shirt," MTV's Carson Daly said. Metallica's Lars Ulrich, sitting in the audience, feigned sleep.

After Gray won best new artist in a video for her breakout hit, "I Try," she made a confession. "I hate making videos," she said while picking up the trophy for her clip, which shows her chasing a lover with a flower.

With MTV airing fewer videos, the annual Video Music Awards is less about artistry in the form and more about celebrating the pop culture stars of the moment. Fueled by the teen pop explosion, last year's show was the top-rated entertainment program in cable television history.

Throngs of fans crowded the streets around Radio City Music Hall. They watched the entrances of celebrities like "Survivor" winner Richard Hatch. He was dressed in a black suit, not taking the chance of walking around naked like he did on Pulau Tiga.

"Is this weird or what?" he said.

Security was tight, particularly after taping for after another music awards show � the Source Hip-Hop Music Awards � was halted by a melee in California last month.

Before the show, members of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation protested against MTV, angry at the network's support of Eminem. They say his lyrics promote violence against homosexuals and women.