Did MTV Conspire Against Michael Jackson?
On August 29, 2002, MTV held their annual Video Music Awards in New York's famous Radio City Music Hall. That date also happened to be Michael Jackson's 44th birthday.
Britney Spears opened the night with a speech highlighting Jackson’s birthday and also paying tribute to his multiple achievements. While praising Michael's career, Spears referred to him as the "artist of the millennium." She brought Jackson out while at the same time a MTV staffer rolled out a giant birthday cake with a little trophy beside it.
In what became an embarrassing moment in Jackson’s history, he immediately grabbed the trophy and began giving an acceptance speech, clearly thinking he had been presented with an award for the "Artist of the Millennium"."When I was a little boy growing up in Indiana if someone told me I’d be getting the Artist of the Millennium, I’d have never believed it.”Jackson said.
He continued talking about his influences in music, finished his speech and left the stage to a standing ovation from the excited crowd at The Video Music Awards.
Confusion took over when host Jimmy Fallon came out onto the stage, with the same trophy Jackson had a few moments ago and said..."I'd like to accept the 'artist of the millennium' myself; I guess they’re giving them backstage, everybody is getting them".
At the end of the show most of the media outlets were reporting Jackson as receiving the "Artist of the Millennium Award". That was until MTV news started reporting the total opposite."There is no such award as the Artist of the Millennium. I think some wires got crossed,"said a spokeswoman for the network. MTV news later would report that“Michael apparently got confused, not understanding the concept of his birthday or the big birthday cake on stage, and instead thought that MTV was honoring him with an Artist of the Millennium award”.
But if what MTV reported was accurate, then why have what looked like a trophy on stage? And furthermore, why would the reclusive Michael Jackson go to an event to receive a birthday cake only? Nevertheless, the moment became the focus of every MTV segment highlighting the award show and another classic Jackson joke.
Apparently, there was a miscommunication between the MTV producers and MTV's website.
On the same night of the event, MTV.com posted Michael Jackson as receiving the Artist of the Millennium Award. BBC News Online noted this contradiction as showed the day after the show on their website;
"An MTV spokesman in New York told there had been a birthday gift but no such award even existed, a stance contradicted by the music station's own website, mtv.com."
The days before the VMA’s, there was a controversy mostly covered by fans sites and the blogosphere, as whether or not Michael Jackson was going to make an appearance on the awards.
The Michael Jackson Fan Club Website(MJFC), which has become a virtual archive for all things Jackson, reported on August 23, 2002, that Michael Jackson was scheduled to make a rare appearance and receive a special award from MTV in his honor. Days after, MTV reported on their website that it was going to present Jackson with "a new, special award", a sure boost to their ratings considering the rarity of a Michael Jackson appearance on national TV.
As it turned out, the show averaged more than 11.9 million viewers, making it the most-watched telecast in the awards' history at the time.
But, why would MTV knowingly set up Jackson for a public embarrassment?
Some insiders speculate that MTV wanted to have some type of event for his coincidental birthday, but Jackson wouldn’t show up unless he was going to receive an important award. All this was around the same time Jackson had a big fallout with his record company; Sony Music. Some think that these two events might’ve been related. Nonetheless, MTV seemed determined to humiliate Jackson and cement their version of history.
The following year at the 2003 VMA’s, Fred Durst and Jack Black poked fun at the infamous moment. "If someone had told me, when I was a kid, that I was going to win the super-genius of the century award, I would have never believed it," gushed Black, wearing an exact replica of Jackson’s iconic outfit complete with metallic shin guards.
Since Michael Jackson’s passing, MTV like many other entertainment media outlets have changed their tunes regarding everything related to Jackson. Magazines that used to constantly ridicule him are now making hardcover tribute editions. Even celebrities that ran away from him as fast as they could, before being acquitted in his criminal trial, are now praising him and reminiscing on their great friendship.
MTV for its part is quietly changing their version of the events on that August 29th of 2002. On their website, MTV is currently showing as one of Jackson’s greatest MTV moments, the presentation of the Artist of the millennium Award, with a picture of Jackson and the award trophy on the podium.
In 1983, Michael Jackson broke the color barrier on MTV. With his groundbreaking music videos, he helped the cable network to become the global empire that it is today.
On September 13, MTV once again will air their Video Music Awards and a tribute to Michael Jackson and his achievements will be presented. Artists will talk about his great influence in their careers and MTV will probably show a collection of Jackson's greatest MTV moments, all showcasing The King of Pop as the greatest artist to ever appear on MTV and arguably after all, the "Artist of The Millennium".
BBC News Link
Michael Jackson Duped By MTV
Spears Presents MJ With Artist of The Millennium Award
Article written by Jose Salas