MTV's 2011 VMAs have no host, but is that so bad?


The annual MTV Video Music Awards are on Sunday, and despite some big performances (including a show-opening appearance by Lady Gaga) and a few eyebrow-raising plans (giving Britney Spears a career retrospective at 29), there doesn’t seem to be very much to talk about.

So perhaps that’s why everybody seems to be up in arms about the fact that the show will not have a host this year (news that shouldn’t have come as a surprise, considering it was delivered with less than a week to go before the show). Sure, it’ll be a little unusual without an emcee, but honestly, it’s probably for the better. 

Being an awards show host is essentially a no-win situation. If you do too much, viewers don’t like that the show is too about you. If you don’t do enough, people wonder where you are. The energy is very delicate, and the reviews on last year’s Oscar broadcast were telling: Anne Hathaway hosted with way too much energy, and James Franco didn’t have nearly enough.

The VMA host has an even greater uphill battle. The show only runs two hours (barely enough time to get a rhythm going) and the show is always so deeply focused on the performances that the host often vanishes in the second hour anyway. Some years, the host has had little more than a cameo.

The past few years have been very host-centric, as the shows became high-profile platforms for Chelsea Handler (2010) and Russell Brand (2008 and 2009). Both were completely serviceable, though neither really grabbed any headlines or did much of anything memorable (Brand came closest in 2008 when he poked fun at the Jonas Brothers and their purity rings).

Neither Handler nor Brand hurt their respective shows, though plenty of hosts have taken away from the broadcasts.

The Wayans Brothers were actively grating in 2000, and Christian Slater’s turn in 1993 could be best described as mildly distracted. The less said about Diddy’s turn in 2005, the better off we all are (a shame, because that 2005 show was remarkably great otherwise).

Of course, this won’t be the first year the VMAs have gone host-free. They last flew without one in 2007, but that was because the show was spread across a handful of hotel suites in Las Vegas and wasn’t conducive to having a host (nor was it all that watchable). The 2004 show (the first in Miami) also didn’t have a host, and seemed to run just fine. And the shows in 1986 and 1987 were both hosted by a cabal of VJs (led by Downtown Julie Brown), though they might as well have had no host at all. (That 1986 show is especially problematic, as it took place in about five different cities — consider it MTV’s version of WrestleMania 2.)

At the end of the day, no host will every be able to handle the VMAs the way that Chris Rock did. Over the course of three shows (1997, 1999, and 2003), Rock riffed his way across the stage and built a persona for himself that was a slight variation on his stand-up character (which is to say that rather than being turned up to 10, Rock was cranked up to about 17). Just check out his spectacular opening monologue from the 1999 show and notice how well he hits all his humor marks while still keeping the show moving. He even makes a joke about Jennifer Lopez’s derriere sound fresh!

So if you tune in to the VMAs on Sunday night (provided that your power hasn’t been wiped away thanks to ridiculous winds) and really miss the idea of a host for the show, just hit the mute button and crank up Rock’s Bigger & Blacker album. Considering the sort of nonsense we’ve heard Chris Brown might deliver on stage, you’ll thank us.

Read more:
EW predicts what’s coming at the VMAs
Here kitty, kitty: Watch a cat recreate Madonna’s infamous 1984 MTV VMAs performance of “Like a Virgin”
VMAs tribute to Amy Winehouse to feature Tony Bennett
Complete VMA coverage at

Comments (43 total) Add your comment
Page: 1 2
  • Michael

    Why the shade toward Britney? Have you seen the list of recipients of the Vanguard/Lifetime Award? Madonna got it only after a couple of years in the industry in 1986. George Michael received it in 1989. I mean, come on. Britney’s been a huge part of MTV in terms of videos and performances.

    And on topic, I’m glad there’s no host. I don’t think it will make an ounce of difference at all.

    • Retired Housewife

      I’ll be more than grateful if Lady GaGa make no appearance. So forcefully tiresome and mediocre!

      • Yulanda

        Agree; as if America has no other artiste than this copycat machine named Gaga.

        Bring back Beyonce!

      • ernie

        you know, for being so ‘mediocre’ and ‘forcefully tiresome’, she sure has you talking. regardless of your opinion, it takes a true pop-cultural icon to get old dried up hags like you talking.

      • erin

        Wow, ernie, you must really love Gaga or perhaps it doesn’t take much to get you spewing hate? In any case, she can be as wonderful a “pop culture icon” she wants to be, and you’re welcome to love her because of that. But, she is supposed to be a musician, and that’s where she is sorely lacking – the point I think the lady you so rudely insulted was trying to make.

      • DRG

        Lady Ca Ca a “true pop culture icon?” ROTFLMAO!!!!!!!

    • Thank God For Youtube




      • ernie

        why comment if you have no intention of tuning in? get a life.

    • Next

      Lady GaGa + MTV = snooze fest!

  • Little comment

    This isn’t the first time the VMA’s haven’t had a host – typical Entertainment Weekly making news as histrionic and pretentious as possible.

    • erin

      sooo.. you didn’t read the article?

      • Danker

        MTV is a yawn fest these days.

      • lily

        MTV should shut down. It’s been a pile for at least 15+ years. Couldn’t name any of the lamo current so called popular people & its not like they are good either. I am a 28 years old doctor, mature and beautiful.and now I am seeking a good man who can give me real love , so i got a username Lindasunny2002 on–a’ge’l’es’s’da’te.c óm–.it is the first and best club for y’ounger women and old’er men, or older women and y’ounger men,to int’eract with each other. Maybe you wanna ch’eck ‘it out or tell your friends!

  • Barry

    Never mind not having a host, the main problem is that the show has no talent appearing on it either.

    • Hwsw

      Snap! The VMAs used to have everybody either on or at the show- now it’s just a pale imitation of what it once was. Oh well, I’m sure somebody somewhere is looking forward to a Teen Mom present Video of the Year.

      • sarah d

        Adele is performing.

      • Yulanda

        Looking forward for Adele performance..probably the only person who has a genuine talent that night !!!!!

  • tpaisa4life

    The show would have been awful as usual anyway so its not like it matters

  • erin

    It’s always fun to hear the “musicians” that MTV considers award-worthy try to perform live. No wait.. not fun.. excruciating.

  • Empty Vee

    Empty Vee hands out awards for music videos it does not show. Who says irony is dead?

  • nickp

    There’s really no Host for the VMAs

  • jj

    Who needs this show?

  • Templar

    Should have had Ben Stein do it.

  • FedUo With Mess

    Lady BlaBla will open the show? Not again!!!!!


    • Rina21

      Gaga is too ugly but her daddy has money to put her in the music school and hire good marketing and PR agents to promote her. That’s why she is so famous! Plus she copies others too and called it- a homage.

      She is flake with no substance. A product of hype and noise.

      • ernie

        that is the most ridiculous post written about gaga her. bad mouthing her is one thing, but to completely pull these absurd claims out of your ass really takes the cake. your ignorance is pitiful. please be fully aware of what you are talking about before you post it onto a public forum.

  • True Blue

    This show hasn’t had a truly entertaining host in God knows how long, so I honestly think this is for the better. In fact, all future VMAs should be host-less.

  • rey

    why does mtv still even host the vma?

    this is like animal planets hosting the espys or lifetime and the man awards.

  • Snookie

    Gaga= an ugly Grace Jones, Madonna wannabe..

    • ernie

      ugly wannabe or not, she inspires kids to genuinely love themselves for exactly who they are. being rail thin and pompous like grace jones or sexually objectifying yourself like Madonna has done for well over 25 years now is not the type of example our youth needs today…but then again your handle is ‘SNOOKI’ so that explains A LOT.

      • clair de lune

        Awwww snap. Really glad to see there are other little monsters here. Put your paws up! Rawr.

  • Soldier

    I will watch it. Remembering the glory days before 2000. A lot of history with this show. None of today’s MTV stars are epic: no Michael, no Madonna, no Bruce, no Prince, no U2, etc.

  • Bert

    MTV should shut down. It’s been a pile for at least 15+ years. Couldn’t name any of the lamo current so called popular people & its not like they are good either. This junk plays at gyms, restaurants, public. Adam Levine Said it best ‘F*ck You VMAs’

    • Ernie

      Hi Bert!

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