It was the elephant in the room, and MTV apparently didn’t feel up to discussing it. During the weekend of 9/11’s 20th anniversary, MTV couldn’t find the time in its 90-minute show to have even a minute’s silence for the victims, first responders, and families.
The VMAs, which celebrate the most entertaining and creative music videos of the past year, were hosted by nominee Doja Cat. While there were plenty of surprises — hello, Madonna’s long-awaited return — and excitement, the absence of mentioning 9/11 was felt by many. Ed Sheeran even performed his latest feel-good hit “Shivers” at the Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City — not far from the site of the 2001 attacks.
Viewers expressed their outrage at MTV on Twitter, with one writing: “no mention of this being the 20th anniversary of 9/11…considering show is in NY,” while another said: “new york is so messy for hosting the vma’s the same weekend as 9/11.” Others made reference to MTV’s almost insensitive and “f***** up” decision to have celebratory VMAs explosions as someone wrote: “@vmas @MTV with the helicopters and fireworks, are yall are purposefully trying to trigger PTSD for 9/11 survivors who still live in NYC or what like the day after the anniversary?” Meanwhile, others simply wanted the network to acknowledge the catastrophic events: “You think they could have taken a moment to honor 9/11 being it was only yesterday.” MTV has yet to respond to criticism.