This past Tuesday, I was sitting in my office at work when a text message flashed on my phone. When I opened the message from a friend, I discovered a report that Jennifer Lopez had been selected to receive the upcoming 2018 Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the MTV Video Music Awards on August 20th. Although my feelings in that moment had nothing to do with Jennifer Lopez, I honestly felt a sense of deep disappointment. My disappointment comes from seeing another year go by without Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliot being recognized by MTV as the ultimate music video innovator and trendsetter that she has been. (Full Disclosure: I am actually a fan of J. Lo, who has had an amazing videography and is deserving of recognition. She will be the first laLati to recieve the award since its inception.)
MTV began presenting the Vanguard award at its inaugural video music awards in 1984. The award was renamed the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award in 1991 and has honored video directors and performers for their contributions in the visual arts. Over the past 34 years, artists like David Bowie, Madonna, Janet Jackson, LL Cool J, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, Kanye, Rihanna, and most recently Pink have all been honored. Missy Elliot has been making music videos since 1997, yet even in the height of her career, she has been overlooked time and time again.
Don’t get me wrong. Missy has been recognized with many awards throughout her career. In fact, she has won seven of her thirty-four nominations for MTV Video Music Awards as well as multiple Grammys, BET Awards, American Music Awards, etc. Most recently, Missy was celebrated at the 2018 ESSENCE Black Women in Music event and last year at the VH1 Hip Hop Honors where she brilliantly recreated the music video for “She’s a B*tch”.
Missy Elliott has released six albums, over 70 singles, 22 solo music videos, and has written and/or produced music for numerous artists including Aaliyah, Fantasia, Jazmine Sullivan, and Beyoncé. She is known for her groundbreaking music videos that have captivated millions and still rival today’s videos. Her iconic debut video in 1997, “Supa Dupa Fly”, was just her first video to push the boundaries of visual art in music and help redefine what it means to be a black woman in America. Refusing to be placed into any kind of box, Missy released legendary music videos like “Get Your Freak On” and “Work It”, which were both visually stunning and musically genius.
“To this day, I’m really grateful for Missy and whoever’s idea it was [to put kids in the video]. They had to have been thinking about making a statement that’s still applicable today that kind of bridges the gap between different lifestyles and different people through music.“ said former dancer Alyson Stoner in an interview with Vibe magazine.
With all that Missy has accomplished, it is disappointing that she has yet to be recognized by MTV for her body of work and for setting the bar for music videos of the 90’s and early 2000’s. Is it that her music and visuals are so far ahead of their time that we still don’t quite understand their greatness? Is it that she is a black woman that has refused to be defined by the industry standards?
Now I know what you’re going to say: “It’s 2018 and MTV doesn’t even show music videos any longer, so it doesn’t matter.” It is true that the MTV Video Music Awards may have lost some of some of its significance because music videos are now mostly consumed on the Internet. However, it is simply the principle: Missy Elliot‘s music videos are more iconic than some of the most recent winners, and she has influenced and/or worked with all of them.
The fact is, Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliot is long overdue for the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. We have to find out who’s in charge and remind them of her greatness.
If you need a reminder, check the Youtube link below and check out some of her iconic work. Comment below and let me know what was your favorite Missy video.
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