The 2023 VMA Awards: moonmen, memes and more 

Pictured is Taylor Swift. Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for MTV

Kerry Kadel l Arts and Entertainment Editor 

In the past, the VMAs have led to some of the most iconic and infamous pop culture drama, memes and moments. Nicki Minaj called Miley Cyrus out during her acceptance speech in 2015, Beyoncé showed off her baby bump in 2011 to announce she was pregnant and the 2009 VMAs when Kanye West stormed the stage while Taylor Swift accepted her award for Best Video. 

This year’s VMAs had no new visible drama erupt from the night. Instead it provided an assortment of record-breaking artists, two very special awards, and many memes which have already spread to social media. 

Taylor Swift was already the talk of the night with eleven nominations in almost every category. She won Best Direction for directing her music videos for her songs “The Man” and “All Too Well: The Short Film” in 2022. This year, Swift won Best Direction for a third time for her music video for “Anti-Hero” from her album “Midnights”. 

At the end of the night, Swift won nine awards out of the 11 she was nominated for. She won the first award of the night, Best Pop Video, presented by NSYNC, who gave the singer friendship bracelets as she thanked them after being awarded. Swift was excited already, as she said in her award speech to the members of NSYNC, “Like, I had your dolls…Are you doing something? What’s going to happen now?”. 

Two highlighted awards of the night were awarded to Shakira and Diddy. Shakira took home the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, which is given to artists who have made an impact in pop culture due to their music. This award is gold compared to the silver moonmen other artists are awarded.

Before accepting the award, Shakira had a montage of all her famous songs such as “Hips Don’t Lie,” “Ojos Así,” and “She Wolf”. The songs played in her native language Spanish and English. She is the first South American artist and second Latina woman in fourteen years to be honored with this award.

Diddy was awarded with the Global Icon Award, which is given to an artist or band whose career has stood unparalleled and has achieved global success beyond music. Diddy had a montage of his most popular songs, a few being “I’ll Be Missing You” and “Last Night.” He walked the carpet with his children, who were beaming with pride next to their father and joined him up on stage when accepting his award. His son, Quincy Brown, even performed with his father. 

As far as awards go, the night was full of excitement, pride and fun. The memes that have erupted from the award show are a handful of reaction memes from actress and artist Selena Gomez. Her facial expressions during the night had viewers cracking up at the reactions she had during performances. Gomez did have a terrific night as she and Rema won the moonman for Best Afrobeats.

Taylor Swift has also become a meme among her fans the “Swiftie’s,” who delighted in Swift’s dance moves and joyous gestures through the night. 

Nicki Minaj, this year’s host, was nominated for six awards and won Best Hip Hop for her song “Super Freaky Girl”. She also debuted a new song to be expected on her upcoming album “Pink Friday 2” releasing November 17th. 

Honorable mentions include Stray Kids winning Best K-Pop for their song “S-Class,” Ice Spice winning Best New Artist–as predicted by a few members here at Flyer News–SZA winning Best R&B for “Shirt,” BLACKPINK award with Group of the Year and Best Choreography, and Brazilian artist Anitta winning Best Latin.

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