13 September 2009

2009: Year of the heckler?

Tonight is the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. The most talked-about moment of the awards show was when rapper Kanye West interrupted country-pop singer Taylor Swift's acceptance speech for her video "You Belong With Me".

Kanye West has had a reputation for angry outbursts before at MTV award shows, notably in last year's European Music Awards and in the 2004 American Music Awards and 2006 MTV EMA's too. Blogger Pete Cashmore at Mashable asks whether this was probably a staged stunt, as happened three months earlier at the MTV Movie Awards when Sacha Baron Cohen "mooned" Eminem in the stands. Well since Taylor Swift and her mother were clearly upset by this mess, and West was evicted from the show, and Beyonce (won Best Video for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)" even offered Swift another chance to speak, I hope it was staged, or else I will hate Kanye West even more than when he did the terrible auto-tuned album 808s & Heartbreak. Even other VMA nominees and winners have spoken out against West. Finally, he did the mandatory thing: apologize.

From all this, and maybe some raunchy Russell Brand jokes I missed because I don't have cable but heard about the Kanye incident from my friends, I wonder if the Parents Television Council is gonna raise a fuss over the awards, as they did last year.

This all reminds me of past incidents this summer where there were openly disruptive hecklers.

For example, as various members of Congress held town hall meetings to address President Barack Obama's proposed health care reform, conservatives have disrupted the speaking Congress members loudly and raucously because they feel that the reform is "socialism" and an oppressive "government takeover of health care". Here are some NBC Nightly News reports about that nonsense:

In August, the Senate held confirmation hearings for then-Judge Sonia Sotomayor. An abortion protestor hollered while Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) interviewed Sotomayor. Others followed. Of course, once again by conservatives concerned over the apparent liberalism of Sotomayor. But she was confirmed anyway.

And most recently before the Video Music Awards, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) yelled, "You lie!" at President Obama when he accurately stated that health care reform will not serve illegal immigrants.

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