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The 2010 MTV Video Music Awards aired last night on--you guessed it-- MTV. With the exception of "Mad Men," "True Blood," the Redskins-Cowboys game, and the "Boardwalk Empire" premiere, it was unquestionably the television event of the evening. Whether the show could match the buzz generated by last year's Taylor Swift-Kanye West dust-up, however, was anybody's guess.

  • Not Quite The spat-filled VMAs of yesteryear seemed like a distant memory during last night's ceremony, writes The Washington Post's Chris Richards. Rather, "it was time to let bygones be bygones, and let insipid awards shows be insipid awards shows." As a result, Richards observes, the ceremony felt "less meaningful than ever."

  • The New Kanye West Show Entertainment Weekly's Brad Wete argues Kanye West's performance of his new single, "Runaway," was the evening's unquestioned highlight, and should do wonders for rehabbing a public persona that has taken a few dings since last year's show. "It was a complete victory," Wete writes of the ceremony-ending performance." West pulled off the neat feat of "addressing his character flaws and acknowledging public opinion without relinquishing any of his power."

  • Turning Tide  After a year of basking in the public's sympathy, the Taylor Swift backlash could be underway, suggests The New York Times' Jon Caramanica. Caramanica agrees with Wete that West's performance was hugely compelling. He also opines that Swift's earlier performance of a new single based on the incident "felt petty by comparison." In Caramanica's estimation, Swift's song, "Innocent," was nothing more than an "extremely savvy insult masquerading as the high road." For this evening at least, West found himself in the unique position of appearing "more magnanimous than Ms. Swift"

  • Winner by Default  Swift's performance was a disaster, says NPR's Linda Holmes. Pacing the stage barefoot in a "filmy white dress," Swift looked less like a pop star and more like a character "slowly dying in a Nicholas Sparks movie." West's "Runaway" was overwrought, Holmes concedes, but it had the ring of an instant classic. "It's never, ever going away ever again," she writes. "If you want this song played at your wedding in 20 years, the DJ will have it." That's enough to tip the scales in his favor.

  • Movies, Not Music Laugh all you want, writes Reuters's Leslie Bruce, but the VMAs used to mean something. "Now it's just a delivery mechanism for promoting soon-to-be released movies appealing to the network's teen demographic," observes Bruce. "MTV may have killed the video star, but it's breathing life into movie stars."

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