The 2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards

Every year I start this writeup by mentioning the season and that the MTV Movie & TV Awards start the summer awards season, so why not lean into it 1? It’s summer now! It’s time to do some summer shit, and that includes the MTV Movie and TV Awards!

Both MTV Awards shows are amiably silly, with the Movie & TV Awards taking a slight edge because they keep changing the categories around to include the sort of ephemera that’s plenty of fun to consider – what is the most Meme-able Moment? 2 – and the deathless, eldritch Best Kiss category, which I still hate beyond all reason.

So let’s forge on through the morass and figure out who deserves this goofy made-up awards. There’s probably a lifetime achievement award – there almost always is – but as of the time of this typing, I don’t know who it is. I do know that the host is going to be ol’ Shazam himself, and that Lizzo is going to be performing, and those are pretty cool things.

Best Meme-able Moment

So! Meme-able! That’s fun! I realize I said this above, but I actually don’t care. I think that there should be an award for creating a sort of useful visual punchline/memorable image that people pass around to mean something. I think that’s great, in general, because it’s entertaining and it requires much less of an investment of my time or energy to laugh at it. So why not give the good ones an award? I’m not sure to what extent most of these are “the good ones,” but hey, whatever. Full marks for effort here.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: I would watch Coulton Underwood jump over that fence all friggin’ day, man, and I don’t even like The Bachelor one teensy little bit.

Best Real Life Hero

So there’s plenty of good stuff here, but I never really found an angle to talk about Nanette when it took over the internet a year ago, so I’m going to use this opportunity to point out what I think my favorite thing about Nanette was – it was presented so starkly and in such a realized, matter-of-fact, air-tight way that I found it nearly impossible not to freight it with things that were, in fact, not said. It was a presentation of a perspective that is not mine, and because it was discomforting (purposefully), I still reacted badly to it, and had, to that point, thought that I was the sort of person that would not react badly to it (I no longer do so, but I did, and that’s worth examining). As such it was about as effective as I can imagine that sort of thing doing, and the fact that she did it so presentationally and stood so firmly behind it means that it’s among the finest things a human being managed in recent history, and therefore made the world unquestionably better than it was before she did it.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Hannah Gadsby, Nanette

Best Breakthrough Performance

None of these people make me as happy when they turn up in something as Awkwafina. I feel like she’s been around longer than all this seems to imply, but I’d be happy to give her whatever award for whatever thing, you know?


Best Host

Last year I made a joke about my own body hosting a bunch of beneficial parasites and bacteria and whatnot, and I feel like I’m in that space again here, because I don’t think any of these people are particularly good hosts, although I guess Nick Cannon gave me an opportunity to play a weekly game of “what’s going to be happening on top of Nick Cannon’s head,” so he gets the nod. Although he’s robbing Fergie, who wasn’t even nominated for The Four.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Nick Cannon, I guess

Best Fight

I’m unsure why the specific fight here is Josh Brolin vs. Chris Evans when the best fight – because I was ten years old once and keep in fairly close contact with my inner ten years old – was EVERY GODDAMN SUPERHERO VS THE FACELESS THANOS HORDES but the Chris Evans vs. Josh Brolin fight includes Steve Rogers wielding Mjolnir and also not quitting when Thanos cuts his shield in half, and is therefore the best Captain America fight ever committed to film, and therefore deserves more awards than we technically have without inventing more. I’m saying we should invent some more awards to give this fight. That’s what I’m saying.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Chris Evans vs. Josh Brolin, Avengers: Endgame

Best Documentary

I appreciate that the folks at MTV, and indeed the culture at large, want to celebrate Ruth Bader Ginsberg. I’m not here to argue that she’s not great, and that I don’t love her as much as anyone else. I think that RBG’s preaching to the converted is as fine and necessary as all preaching to the converted 3, but I think that Surviving R. Kelly finally managed to get people to turn around on R. Kelly, and is therefore more useful and therefore, better as a documentary experience.


Best Reality Royalty

I hate to be that guy here 4, but I hope all of these people – every single damn last one of them – falls into a hole in the ground.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: The giant hole that would open up under each and every single one of these people in a just world.

Most Frightened Performance

Also a thing that should be awarded: being frightened. This is a skill that has only gotten harder as movies have become less practical 5, and thus give the actors less to work with in terms of reacting to them. That said, as much as I love Linda Cardellini in general, I’m done with Conjuring spin-offs, so this one goes Alex Wolff for Hereditary

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Alex Wolff, Hereditary

Best Kiss

I hate this category for a bunch of reasons! It gets weirder as the context around it changes, and I guess I’m into weird categories, so maybe someday the balance will tip, but as it is it’s a weird, over-horny, prurient category. I’m not opposed to things that happen pruriently – hell, the entire existence of MTV is based around various things in various idioms happening pruriently – but I still think it’s a weird thing to award. It seems a bit like saying “oh this isn’t prurient, it’s progressive” which is pretty clearly (at the least) disingenuous and obfuscatory. I’d probably find a category called “hottest hot stuff” more honorably, to be honest, because at least it would be correctly stating its existence. That said, my opinion of it appears to be softening as this year I find myself able to type about it without a thin scrim of blood filling my vision. Progress!

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Still, there is no “rightful” winner of this stupid, performative, “Who me?”, hiding-in-plain sight category.

Best Villain

I’m deeply unfamiliar with some of this, but I think Lupita Nyong’o was scarier than Josh Brolin, for whatever that might be worth. Also more believable.


Best Hero

For as much as there were plenty of moments in this set, and I’m happy to acknowledge that Maisie Williams’s bit in the end of Game of Thrones was as good as anything else, I really loved both Captain Marvel and Captain Marvel’s brief bits in Avengers: Endgame. So there you have it.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Brie Larson, Captain Marvel

Best Comedic Performance

It’s the comedy categories where the differences between my tastes and those that MTV is trying to get after with these awards become the most apparent, you know? It makes me feel old and/or out of touch. Well, actually, it makes me feel like the marketing department at MTV has no idea what’s funny, but it’s less egomaniacal to put those feelings on me, and I like to keep up a good front.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Awkwafina, Crazy Rich Asians

Best Performance in a Show

I guess MTV’s editorial stance is that The Good Place doesn’t even exist. That’s stupid. Kudos for pulling the nom for Jason Mitchell after it turned out he was a dickbag, though.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin

Best Performance in a Movie

No voice performances, so we also don’t get anything from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (although see below). Not Jake Johnson, not Shameik Moore, not even Nicolas Cage. This is nonsense. Nonsense.


Best Show

Of these, I guess it’s Big Mouth, but man, I don’t watch much television. Well, not much new television anyway. I’m old.


Best Movie

For once there are good contenders, and I’d like to consider them, but instead of considering them, I’ll probably just go watch Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse again.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

  1.  I usually also start it by saying “Ah, summer” or something like that. I’m unusually consistent in this regard. 
  2. obviously you have to have a pretty specific definition of “fun” for this to apply. 
  3.  the inestimable Tom Lehrer once described what he did as not even preaching to the converted, but “titillating the converted”, and I think of that when things like this come around. I enjoy being titillated, certainly, but I’m not sure it’s the cultural force it’s sometimes confused for being. 
  4.  I also hate to be the guy who says “I hate to be that guy”, a thing that I’m pretty sure isn’t a thing that people say anymore, but which is better than things being “A Thing” in just about every appreciable way. I’m working on not hating so much stuff, so I’m allowing to to stand, and then I’m equivocating about it here, and then I’m owning up to the equivocation. How many words am I wasting doing this? I don’t know, but every time I type another one of them it compounds the problem! 
  5.  and is made even more impressive when you consider that most horror movies that are considered for any award, even this one, are abstracted and made meta-horror in all sorts of ways, which means the actual scare-response requires even more mental gymnastics to come up with. 

A Considered Look at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Part 12

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a place that I find, as an institution, vexing. The actual, physical hall of fame – the pyramidal building on the lake in Cleveland – is pretty cool, but it is spoken and thought of often as an intangible – as a sort of arbitrating body on the worthiness of the body of rock musicians. My thought, for many years upon surveying lists 1 and the like was to think that they have about a fifty percent success rate for getting it anything like right.

But what if it doesn’t? Previously I listened to and considered each of the best-selling albums of all time, and learned that they were considerably more of a mixed bag than I had thought 2. So what if the inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are the same sort of deal?

And so it’s time to dive in and take a look at what the nominees and their enshrinement actually are.

Click the links for Part 1,Part 2,  Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, and Part 11 of this series.


Black Sabbath

WHO THEY ARE: Pioneers, if not outright inventors, of heavy metal.

WHY THEY’RE HERE: I’ve written previously about the RRHOF’s tricky relationship with several of rock’s subgenres, and Black Sabbath is indicative of the thing that they really don’t want to develop an institutional affinity for. Who the hell doesn’t like Black Sabbath? I mean, at least a little bit. They sold a bajillion records despite being inarticulate, semi-literate weirdos from a deeply unfashionable part of Great Britain because they were that good, and they inspired tens of thousands of bands to sound at least a little bit like them.

AND…?: I maintain that it is true that whatever your favorite flavor of heavy music might be, Black Sabbath probably wrote a song in that mode, and it probably directly inspired your favorite heavy band. For all that they’re beloved, they’re also probably under-rated.



WHO THEY WERE: Punk’s premier disco band.

WHY THEY’RE HERE: Because Debbie Harry caused a lot of boners in the seventies? Because there are a bunch of these people that secretly wanted to love disco but needed it dressed in different clothes? They’re were very popular, and I suppose in the sense that they showed how to be completely and utterly mercenary about your music and what is done with it by labels, etc., they were also influential.

AND…?: Fuck ‘em.


Miles Davis

WHO HE IS: Inhumanly talented and innovated jazz trumpeter

WHY HE’S HERE: Because it’s been a few years since the genre-blob that ate all things decided to subsume someone who wasn’t a part of rock and roll, I guess. He did sort of invent Jazz Fusion with Bitches Brew and A Tribute to Jack Johnson and that, but blaming him for Weather Report seems a little unfair to him.

AND…?: There’s some all-time great music in there. None of it is actually rock and roll, and you’d think I’d be done being surprised at this point, but hey! I guess I’m not!

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: If he were in the influences category, maybe. I mean, under the rules of the RRHOF he’s probably fine to be in there, but this is one is particularly rankling, not only because it’s a non-rock-and-roll performer, but because if you were always going to induct Miles Davis anyway, why did you wait so goddamned long?

Lynyrd Skynyrd

WHO THEY WERE: America’s foremost southern rock band

WHY THEY’RE HERE: In addition to the usual “sold a bunch of records” reasons, they gave the world one of the most annoying and omnipresent jokes that ran all the way to the mid-aughts where people yelled “Freebird!” at anyone holding a guitar.

AND…?: Eh. I don’t like them enough to feel they belong, but they’re better than the Allman Brothers, who were inducted ten years earlier. That seems dumb.


Sex Pistols

WHO THEY ARE: The Ramones of British punk

WHY THEY’RE HERE: Despite decades of their former-manager doing everything in his power to muddy and/or negate their formidable legacy, and several decades of their former frontman being a world-class cock 3, the Sex Pistols are pretty undeniable in terms of having been a great, influential, powerful (to the people to whom they were powerful) rock band, and the fact that that has stood up to years of the aforementioned meddling and an association (by way of name-checking) with some of the worst music ever made is a better argument for them as a band than just about anything one could write about them.

AND…?: Their music pretty much entirely fails to move me, but I get it, and I’m not sad to see them here or to go to bat for them.


Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss

WHO THEY ARE: They’re the founders of A&M (Alpert & Moss) records and, as of the time of this typing, the last inductees in the “lifetime achievement” category.

WHY THEY’RE HERE: A&M Records was a big ol’ label with a bunch of big ol’ bands on it, and label dudes get inducted regularly.

AND…?: A perusal of A&M’s signees reveals almost nothing that I would rather have in the world than not, which is some kind of crazy-low batting average. That said, a bunch of it was super-popular, so clearly there’s business forces at work here.



Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

WHO THEY ARE: An early rap group that had early rap hits.

WHY THEY’RE HERE: The RRHOF has, as of this point, started dipping their toes into recognizing hip-hop, and this is a pretty tough choice to argue with. They were popular, but their hits weren’t novelty hits, as were so many of the rap hits prior to Grandmaster Flash. They were influential in the way that any early performer in an idiom is influential, even if most of what was going on there would quickly be done better by other folks.

AND…?: The idea to sample “Cavern” is not one that I would have thought of, and while “White Lines” isn’t as good as “Cavern”, I still like it every time I hear it. That’s about it, as far as my personal opinion of Grandmaster Flash is concerned.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Sure. I can’t put up fences about rap, given how much stuff is in here that has nothing to do with Rock and Roll on the other end (see above w/r/t Miles Davis, and also much previously written in previous installments).


WHO THEY ARE: Athens, Georgia’s longest-running rock band, a perennially unlikely candidate for a group of rock stars, and probably the best-known power-pop band ever.

WHY THEY’RE HERE: Without changing anything about their approach, sound, or selves, they became as famous as anyone could be. This is the sort of thing that I can’t help but applaud, even divorced of the music.

AND…?: I’m trying to keep this brief and devoid of hyperbole, because I love REM almost as much as I love any band that has ever existed, and in their original four-guys-and-their-instruments incarnation, they had a basically perfect run and accomplished things in terms of artistry and, somehow, wild success that I can still only barely fathom, even though much of this accomplishment was before I was aware of them at all.


The Ronettes

WHO THEY ARE: A girl group who was somehow not inducted before now.

WHY THEY’RE HERE: Well, they were very popular and were pretty indicative of the Phil Spector sound. The real question isn’t why they’re here – they’re pretty much catnip for the RRHOF induction folks – but rather why did it take them until 2007? For that latter question, I have basically no answer.

AND…?: They were a lot better than a lot of vocal groups who got in before them, that’s for sure.


Patti Smith

WHO SHE IS: An early woman of punk, among other things.

WHY SHE’S HERE: Her first three records are basically perfect, and she continued to follow her creative muse off in all sorts of directions, regardless of what people wanted or expected from her. Still does, in fact. It’s hard not to enshrine that kind of thing, as previously mentioned many times. She was never as popular as several of the folks here, and she really should have been inducted earlier on her influence alone 4.

AND…?: Oh, I love the Patti Smith that I love and don’t begrudge her the rest of it. She also makes a fantastic character in Please Kill Me.


Van Halen

WHO THEY ARE: You know how sometimes you’re on the hook to come up with a brief, preferably-funny or at least non-intrusive way to describe a band for a blog post and the only thing you can actually think to say is “I hate this band so much”? Yeah, I hate this band so much.

WHY THEY’RE HERE: They created a sort of fusion of heavy-metal sound with absolutely zero aggression and a lot of circus-style stage-tricks in the form of their coked-out bouncy ball of a frontman. They brought a high degree of technical skill to the art of not-actually rocking, and generally laid every single brick of ground on the way to the way of a conceptualization of “rock star” and “rock band” that is terrible, and that persists to this day.

AND…?: All of that aside, I will admit that they did what they did genuinely, and they worked hard at it, and I don’t actually find it difficult to imagine why people find it compelling, which puts them light-years ahead of bands that are in their league quality-wise. And Alex Van Halen is a pretty good drummer.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: I’m not going to argue that they aren’t, but I would argue that rock music would be better on the whole if they weren’t the sort of band that seemed sensible to induct, you know what I mean?

Anyway, 2007 is one of those years where it’s only performers that are inducted, and not early influences, non-performers or sidemen, so that wraps it up for this one.

  1.  also the centerpiece of the museum itself, for those that have never been there, is a very long video encapsulating each inducted class, with clips of performances by most of them and things like that, and is generally a pretty cool thing to behold. 
  2.  although they did, as you can read here and going back from there, skew toward “pretty bad” 
  3. although it must also be stated that John Lydon – the world-class cock in question – was also in a band that beats the Sex Pistols at a walk in terms of quality and wildly inventive awesomeness in the form of Public Image, Ltd. 
  4. She was inducted, for example, the same year as REM, and she was REM’s singer’s favorite singer. That alone, you know? 

The Best Records of May 2019

Big Brave – A Gaze Among Them (Apparently I am super-extra here for drone-y heavy metal these days, and this one is an extra-great example of the form)

Flying Lotus – Flamagra (It works better as an album than any of its constituent songs, which is increasingly rare, especially in hip-hop and hip-hop adjacent music, and I’m pretty happy about it.)

Slowthai – Nothing Great About Britain (of course, there’s nothing wrong with just being a great rapper and writing a bunch of great rap songs, either)

Earth – Full Upon Her Burning Lips (twenty years on, Dylan Carlson didn’t quite deliver the sex record we were promised, but he tightened up and stripped down the band’s thing to just he and Adrienne Davies’s drums and it’s their best album in a long time)

Tyler, the Creator – Igor (I don’t think I’ve ever unreservedly liked a Tyler, the Creator record this much, and this one was as satisfying as it was surprising. Good job, that.)