What was your first clue the dystopian future has arrived? There have been a lot of contenders over the past few years, but this year’s Video Music Awards are shaping up to be a surreal and depressing vision of our technocratic cultural landscape. Remember when MTV played music videos, man?
In internet parlance, every bit of news we’ve heard about the upcoming awards show we’ve learned against our will. There are the showcases for controversial figures like Nicki Minaj and (allegedly) Johnny Depp, and the new category for “Best Metaverse Performance.” On a similar note, the show has announced a star-studded collab between Snoop Dogg and Eminem, who are nominated for “Best Hip-Hop” for their track “From The D To The LBC.”
Their scheduled performance is rather historic, if you count VMAs milestones as such. The song marks their first collaboration in 20 years (besides the buzzy Super Bowl Halftime Show), and it’ll be both artists’ first time on the VMAs stage in over a decade. (Snoop last performed at the VMAs in 2005 with Diddy during a tribute to The Notorious B.I.G.) Eminem also happens to be the second-most nominated artist in VMAs history behind Madonna.
Here’s the twist–the performance is “inspired by the world of the Otherside metaverse,” according to a press release. MTV is really pushing this metaverse thing; the VMAs will also have its own metaverse experience on Roblox, where users can vote for the metaverse category and play VMA-related games, per The Wall Street Journal.
As far as the Eminem/Snoop Dogg performance goes, MTV announced that it’s partnered with Yuga Labs “to bring this creative to life.” Yuga is the company behind Bored Ape Yacht Club, the NFTs being awkwardly shilled by Jimmy Fallon and Paris Hilton (among other shameless celebrities).
For what it’s worth, Yuga Labs is also embroiled in a lawsuit with artist Ryder Ripps, who has accused its creators of embedding their NFTs with racist imagery originating from alt-right forums like 4chan. Ripps recently filed an anti-SLAPP motion in the suit, which read in part that “Yuga’s systematic use of racist and neo-Nazi messages and imagery appears to be by deliberate design, and, by its co-founder’s admission are not ‘just random,’” per The Daily Dot. A more detailed explanation of his accusations–which the Yuga Labs creators have denied–can be found on Ripps’ website.
All in all, this sounds par for the course for this year’s VMAs: a toxic combination of increasingly outdated stars and desperation for relevance through vaguely controversial means. Could this be the sweet spot that finally boosts the ceremony’s declining ratings? You’ll have to watch and find out. Or don’t!