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The 2019 MTV Video Music Awards were a night of show-stopping performances, art, and recognizing the people who make music videos great. While the night was mostly dedicated to the young bloods of the music genre, the show did take a moment to recognize one of the iconic hip-hop artists with the trippiest of music videos: Missy Elliott. Missy received the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award for her efforts, although one wouldn't know it under that name given a bulk of the show.
All throughout the night MTV presenters and the host danced around the full name of the honor, referring to it simply as the "video vanguard." If the network hoped to escape criticism from not mentioning the controversial singer throughout the evening, then it went very wrong. Viewers noticed that presenters weren't dropping MJ by name, and some voiced their displeasure about it during the program.
Was it an MTV mandate that presenters shy away from saying Michael Jackson during the show? We're not sure, although it feels pretty telling that Cardi B, who gave a speech ahead of the award's presentation ahead of Missy Elliott's acceptance, did not mention Jackson's name at all during her bit. For an artist that is known for being unedited and off the cuff, it feels like that takes some intentional restraint on her part.
The big mention of Michael Jackson came when Missy Elliott took the stage to give her awards show speech. Elliott showed no hesitation in referring to her award by its full name, and Jackson supporters took to Twitter to praise the artist for not shying away from saying his name.
Missy Elliott thanked a lot of people during her acceptance, including her friend Janet Jackson. Elliott's friendship with Michael Jackson's sister may be a key reason behind why she felt the need to name check the pop icon when MTV didn't seem to want to mention him too many times.
No doubt MTV's stance had something to do with the press surrounding Michael Jackson and the public's reaction to the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland. While there were plenty upset with MTV seemingly trying to keep Michael Jackson's name out of the show, there were some upset that MTV still had the award named after Jackson considering the allegations lodged against him.
With that said, it seemed like there were far more people upset that Michael Jackson wasn't mentioned by name when referring to the award that was named after him beginning in 1991. MTV has not acknowledged whether or not the name of the Video Vanguard award has changed officially for the record, so presumably it's still known as the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.
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