Parents Television Council: 2016 VMAs Were “Relatively Clean” And “Tamer”

Truth rating: 10
Parents Television Council VMAs 2016

By Shari Weiss


Parents Television Council VMAs 2016

(Getty Images)

The Parents Television Council exclusively tells Gossip Cop that the 2016 VMAs were “tamer” than in years past, but the MTV Video Music Awards “still falls far short” of being appropriate content for teenagers.

“They definitely seemed to have toned it down. They made a number of what I think are safe choices,” Melissa Henson, program director for the PTC, tells Gossip Cop in an exclusive interview on Monday. As an example, Henson points to the commentary offered by Key & Peele, noting that they were “irreverent,” but not “off-color.” That was a notable change from the atmosphere when Miley Cyrus hosted the VMAs last year.

Still, this year’s ceremony was not without objectionable content. “It was a study in contrasts,” Henson says, explaining, “On the one hand, you had these outstanding women athletes from the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team and they’re up there praising the female performers for being strong positive role models for women. But when you watch the performances, there’s a lot of self-objectification, self-sexualization going on.”

For instance, says Henson, whereas G-Eazy was fully-clothed when he took the stage, collaborator Britney Spears wore a risqué outfit and grabbed his crotch. “It was disheartening to see that from the female performers, because it’s such a strong contrast with the real upstanding role models,” she tells Gossip Cop. But the most glaring, controversial moment for the PTC was the premiere of Kanye West’s “Fade” video starring Teyana Taylor.

“The dancing segment was not even objectionable. It was clearly influenced by Flashdance. It wasn’t even that bad,” Henson says. “But the shower scene certainly went to places it didn’t need to go.” Referencing the images of Taylor’s sideboob and the implication of sexual acts, the advocate says that portion of the video “really stood out as out of place” with the rest of the “relatively clean” broadcast.

Henson admittedly isn’t sure why this year’s VMAs fell “somewhere in the middle.” “I don’t know if that was because they were feeling pressure from sponsors, but it did seem to be a tamer VMAs,” she acknowledges. That said, “There was still enough content on there [that] even though it’s rated TV-14, if my son was 14, I’d still feel very uncomfortable.”

And that’s why Henson says the 2016 event was “a vast improvement over past VMAs, but still falls far short of what it could be as a celebration of music and talent, instead of a study in who can be most outrageous.” Asked what she’d like to see next year, Henson tells Gossip Cop, “I hope they continue this, toning it down and not relying so much on shock value. I hope that they make it more about the performers and less about courting controversy. I think if they continue that trend, that would be a step in a positive direction.”

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