On Sunday night, millions of people will tune in to see a long, bloody storyline come to a thrilling climax when two rival queens meet in the same location, with one toting CGI reptiles. The Game of Thrones finale will be on as well.
The MTV Video Music Awards, airing this year at 8 p.m. Eastern, is the televised ceremony that’s historically been the savviest and most shameless about causing conversation-baiting moments: unexpected make-outs involving Madonna or Michael Jackson, Kanye West’s “I’mma let you finish but … ,” Miley Cyrus twerking, “Miley, what’s good?,” etc. For this year’s ceremony, the prime source of drama looks to be in the pesky psychosocial narrative that is Taylor Swift vs. Katy Perry, from which observers can draw observations about gender and fame but also simply about two superstars trying to prolong their imperial phases.
The origins of their beef are hazy, but its benefit to both artists has been clear, as has the fact that it fed some urge in the fan/media ecosystem to see strong females feuding. This year, Perry dined out on the appearance of bad blood by releasing a trash-talking single about triumphing over a sheep in wolf’s clothing. Then, during her brain-melting publicity stunt of livestreaming herself for four days, she tearfully forgave Swift for whatever she did. Swift famously seemed to take aim at Perry in a 2015 No. 1 hit, and her newly announced album, Reputation, promises to devilishly embrace the backlash against her for being a “snake.”