THROWBACK THURSDAY: FIRST-EVER MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS (9/14/1984)
MTV's annual Video Music Awards (VMAs) telecast brought in the lowest ratings in the franchise's history this week, drawing just 1.93 million viewers. It's the third year in the row that the VMAs have set a new record for all-time low ratings, despite a number of moments and performances that grabbed attention online. (MTV helpfully put the entire Missy Elliott performance on YouTube, where it has already garnered over 7.5 million views.) It's yet another example of how the wealth and variety of entertainment content being delivered into everyone's homes have fundamentally shifted the landscape; you just can't get that many people all together at the same time to watch something anymore, even if Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes will be performing a sexy duet!
The very first VMAs were held at Radio City Music Hall in New York, and hosted by -- get ready for this one, folks -- Dan Aykroyd and Bette Midler! Here are the opening credits. InStyle has a slideshow featuring some of the celebrity red carpet fashion from that night. Madonna showed up in a wedding dress, themed around her performance that evening of "Like a Virgin." ZZ Top wore suits (and got a lot of attendees to wear fake beards). Robert Downey Jr. appears to be in some kind of snakeskin jacket at the afterparty, alongside Anthony Michael Hall. Speaking of performances, Tina Turner also treated the audience to a take on "What's Love Got to Do With It."
In terms of awards, Herbie Hancock was the night's big winner, with the surreal animatronic clip for "Rockit" taking home five awards, including Best Concept Video. Video of the Year went to The Cars for "You Might Think." Cyndi Lauper was the night's most-nominated artist with 10 nods; she took home the Moonman for Best Female Video for "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."
[Michael Jackson's "Thriller" was nominated for Video of the Year, but lost to The Cars. This year, Jackson's name was quietly removed from the show's big honor, the Video Vanguard Award.]
But even as the show has fallen out of favor with live TV audiences, it's definitely doing much better among the critics and pundits of today. The first show was a flop with TV writers, who declared it "an orchestrated, calculated, meaningless event"; "a momentous occasion, ranking right up there with your average yawn"; and "like coronation ceremonies for the goon generation."