The 2015 MTV Video Music Awards gave us everything: host Miley Cyrus in a variety of demented Lisa Frank-esque ensembles, some shade from Nicki Minaj, an undeserved Video of the Year win for Taylor Swift, and the speech of the century from Kanye West, who won the coveted Video Vanguard award. Check out the text of his 12-minute speech (transcribed by TVLine) and see if you can spot the one particular topic he didn't bring up.
Bro! BRO! Listen to the kids! … First of all, thank you, Taylor, for being so gracious and giving me this award this evening. I often think back to the first day I met you, also. You know, I think about that when I”m in the grocery store with my daughter and I have a really great conversation about pressed juice, and at the end, they say, ‘Oh, you”re not that bad, after all.” And when I go to a baseball game and 60,000 people boo me, it crosses my mind a little bit.
I think, if I had to do it all again, what would I have done? Would I have worn a leather shirt? Would I have drank a half a bottle of Hennessy and given the rest of it to the audience? … If I had a daughter at that time, would I have went on stage and grabbed the mic from someone else”s? You know, this arena tomorrow is going to be a completely different set-up. … This stage will be gone.
After that night, the stage is gone, but the effect that it had on people will remain. The problem was the contradiction. The contradiction is that I do fight for artists, but in that fight, I somehow was disrespectful to artists. I didn”t know how to say the right thing, the perfect thing. I sat at the Grammys and saw Justin Timberlake and Cee-Lo lose. … I ain”t trying to put you on blast, Justin, but I saw that man in tears, though. I thought, “He deserved to win Album of the Year.” And in the small box that we are, as the entertainers of the evening, how do you explain that?
Sometimes, I feel like I died for the artist”s opinion, for the artist to have an opinion after they were successful. I”m not no politician, bro! … And do you know how many times MTV ran that footage, because it got them more ratings? LISTEN TO THE KIDS, BRO! I still don”t understand award shows. I don”t understand how they get five people who work their entire lives … to come, stand on a carpet and, for the first time in their lives, be judged on a chopping block and have the opportunity to be considered a loser. I don”t understand it, bruh! … I been conflicted, bro! I just wanted people to like me more. BUT F–K THAT, BRO! 2015! I will die for the art, for what I believe it. And the art ain”t always going to be polite. Y”all might be thinking right now, ‘I wonder, did he smoke something before he came out here?” The answer is, ‘Yes, I rolled a little something to knock the edge off.” I don”t know what”s going to happen tonight. I don”t know what”s going to happen tomorrow, bro.
But all I can say to my fellow artists: ‘Just worry how you feel at the time, man. Just worry how you feel.” … I”m confident. I believe in myself. We the millennials, bro. This is a new mentality. We”re not going to control our kids with brands. We”re not going to teach low self-esteem and hate to our kids. We”re going to teach our kids that they can be something … to believe in themselves. If my grandfather was here right now, he would not let me back down. I don”t know what I”m going to lose after this. It don”t matter, though, because it ain”t about me, bro! It”s about ideas! And … in 2020, I have decided to run for president.
That's a lot. But the most shocking part of Kanye West's diatribe is that he never, ever brings up music videos — his or anybody else's.
He doesn't bring up “Touch the Sky” or “Love Lockdown” or “All of the Lights.” He doesn't thank directors or costars. He spends more time discussing VMA ceremony drama than what the ceremony tries to celebrate.
Judging by the text of his speech, it's clear Kanye believes that the art of music video has diminished in favor of the art of award shows. In that case, he just turned out another masterpiece.