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Students share reactions to first VMA’s with a live audience in two years

MTV held the first Video Music Awards (VMA’s) with a live audience on Sept. 12 for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and students had various opinions on the show.

The ceremony included a live audience that wore face masks, and students weighed in on whether they felt it was safe to have a live audience during the ongoing pandemic.

Nicole Ribeiro, a junior elementary special education and social and behavioral sciences double major, said that as long as audience members were vaccinated or showed proof of a negative COVID-19 test, that it was safe to have the live audience return.

On the other hand, Emma Boeninghaus, a junior finance and information technology management major, said she found the choice to be somewhat unsafe because of the sudden increase of COVID-19 cases in the last few weeks. However, she says she enjoyed that the show had a live audience because, “it felt a lot more energetic and fun.”

The ceremony was hosted by hip hop star Doja Cat, featuring performances from her, Lil Nas X, and Justin Bieber. According to Billboard, the VMA’s honored the most successful and memorable music videos from the past year, some of the categories including Best Direction, Best New Artist, and Best Choreography.

The controversial music video for “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” by Lil Nas X received the most prestigious award of the night–Video of the Year. 

“It was awesome and very well done,” Madaline Krawchuk, a sophomore theatre major, said. “[It was] an amazing display of camp cinematography.”

Boeninghaus added that she was pleasantly surprised by the choice due to the controversy that surrounded the video upon its release, and she feels that Lil Nas X is a good representatives of the LGBTQ+ community within rap.

The VMA’s used different social media platforms to post clips of the show, allowing audiences to watch the award show outside of the traditional television medium. Ribeiro said she saw clips from the show on the social media app TikTok. She said her favorite performance was “Stay” by Justin Bieber. 

“I love that song and thought the choreography was good and it was very exciting,” Ribeiro said. “I also loved how his outfit was lowkey.”

Ribeiro said that her least favorite performance was “Good 4 U.” She said she is already tired of the song because it is overplayed and found the performance to be boring. 

Krawchuck also relied on TikTok, as well as YouTube, to see what happened at the ceremony. Krawchuck said her favorite performances were “Industry Baby” and “Montero” by Lil Nas X and Jack Harlow and “Good 4 U” by Olivia Rodrigo.

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“It was so cool how it looked like Olivia punched and broke the camera at the end,” Krawchuck said. 

Krawchuck said her least favorite performance was host Doja Cat’s medley of “Be Like This” and “You Right.” 

“However, she looked stunning in the red dress during her performance,” Krawchuck said. 

Boeninghaus watched the VMAs live. She said her favorite performance was “Empire State of Mind” by Alicia Keys, and she found it fitting considering it was the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Some students thought that some of the artists were snubbed for awards. Ribeiro said she thought that “Prisoner” by Dua Lipa and Miley Cyrus was going to win the award for Best Collaboration, but the award went to “Kiss Me More” by Doja Cat and SZA.

The red carpet was full of memorable outfits. Ribeiro said she was surprised by actress Megan Fox’s dress because of its “color and revealing quality.” Another outfit that received attention was Lil Nas X’s lavender dress.

“His music videos and whole personality are very out there, so I never am not surprised by him,” Ribeiro said. 

Victoria Rossi can be reached at


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