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VMAs 2015: The 8 Most Awkward Moments

The MTV Video Music Awards are, by their very nature, extremely awkward. Maybe it’s just that I long since aged out of the network’s key demo, but the entire enterprise feels teeth-clenchingly forced and needlessly faux-outrageous — even Miley Cyrus’ freed nipple in a night filled with NSFW moments. But if you’re a pop-culture addict (or an employee of a pop-culture website), you watch, even if it means subjecting yourself to hours of cringing, because maybe Kanye West will surprise-release his new album or at least go on one of his trademark rants/inspirational speeches and finish up by announcing he’s running for president five years from now. Even on a night that felt like one elongated awkward moment, these stood out.

8. Everybody’s Hair

From Justin Bieber’s horizontal swoop to Jared Leto’s slicked-back pink to Miley Cyrus’ Chance-derided dreadlocks, it was an off night for follicles.

A photo posted by Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) on

7. Demi Lovato Jacks Katy Perry’s Swag

Lovato’s “Cool For The Summer” performance felt like a Katy Perry been-there-done-that revue, from the look to the sound to the song’s not-that-edgy subject matter about girl-on-girl experimentation. But Perry would probably be wise enough to avoid an Iggy Azalea cameo.

6. Taylor Swift Introduces Kanye West With An “I’ma Let You Finish” Joke

Inevitable, but still wack!

5. Justin Bieber Makes Himself Cry

Bieber was so moved by his own performance of “Where Are Ü Now” and “What Do You Mean” — replete with Peter Pan theatrics — that he burst into tears when he was finished. The producers cut away to a montage of male celebrities tentatively clapping, presumably unsure of what they just witnessed.

4. Miley Cyrus Cracks Endless Marijuana Jokes

We get it, Miley. You like a little toke-toke in your life. (Elbow nudge.) (Wink.) (Wink again.) The only thing remotely provocative thing Cyrus did all night was have the Ouija board say the LAPD murdered Biggie. (Kinda stoked to spend some time with her new album, though, tbh.)

3. Rebel Wilson Mocks Police Brutality, MTV Struggles To Avoid The F Bomb

In an ill-advised bit that made light of police brutality, the Pitch Perfect 2 star ripped off her police officer costume to reveal a T-shirt with the words “FUCK THE STRIPPER POLICE.” Watching the production staff linger on Wilson’s shirt, realize they were broadcasting the F word, and then attempt to show her from the shoulders up was much more humorous than her tasteless ploy for yuks. But really, if they were worried about transmitting offensive content, they should have bleeped out the entire segment.

2. Nicki Minaj Feuds With Miley Cyrus

Minutes after welcoming Swift to the stage in what appeared to be a genuine gesture of reconciliation for their VMAs-inspired Twitter tiff, Minaj called out Miley Cyrus for criticizing her in the press earlier this week. It’s possible Minaj’s verbal offensive was truly off the cuff, but the whole conflict felt as disingenuous and manufactured as the rest of the broadcast.

1. Kanye West Speaks, And Speaks, And Speaks

“I still don’t understand awards shows,” said Kanye West, receiving a lifetime achievement award on an awards show while casting titanic shade upon that same awards show. Kanye’s oratory started out strong, disappeared into a void of uncertainty, and then circled back to profundity. Like his one-time comrade 2 Chainz, he was drunk and high at the same time, and as his ramble stretched onward to infinity, I started to wonder if MTV would end up cutting him off. But no, they let him finish — rattling off an almost-apology for his infamous T-Swift interruption, shouting out his grocery store’s fresh juice, wondering why FutureSex/LoveSounds didn’t win a Grammy, and getting a jump start on the 2020 White House race. (Read the full transcript here if you’re so inclined.) The sheer length and Bissetitude of the speech made it awkward, but rest assured it was awesome, too.

You can check out all the other notable VMA GIFs, tweets, vines, and videos here.