Politics | August 28, 2017 9:49 am

MTV Had Descendent of Robert E. Lee Introduce Heather Heyer’s Mother at VMAs

Awards show also invites transgender servicemen and women to red-carpet event.

MTV Gets Political at the VMAs
Susan Bro speaks onstage during the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards held at The Forum on August 27, 2017 in Inglewood, California. (Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

From the 1980s until about the early aughts, MTV still had cultural relevance. Teenagers discovered everybody from Huey Lewis and the News to Britney Spears on the cable network, and consumed music videos, because that’s all there really was.

Nowadays, with the free-floating video mass that is YouTube and the near-complete music catalog that is Spotify, teens don’t really need MTV. So it’s unclear how relevant it really is, and how much we should really care about award shows like the VMAs, who won what, and what’s being said at them.

So MTV waded in, politically, last night at The Forum in Inglewood, California, with mixed results.

Most notably, as Esquire notes, the Rev. Robert Wright Lee, a descendant of Confederate general Robert E. Lee—whose statue helped ignite the deadly Charlottesville protest—was called on to introduce Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, the peaceful protester who lost her life when a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd.

Fighting off emotion, she announced the launch of the Heather Heyer Foundation, a nonprofit organization who’s goal is to help fight hatred.

The producers of the VMAs also invited transgender members of the U.S. military to walk the red carpet before the festivities beginning.

As Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO and president of GLAAD, told Variety on last night’s red carpet: “MTV has always been a leader dating back two decades with The Real World when they had the first person with AIDS on a show. MTV has always been a leader and a responder….MTV represents the youth today.”

Even host Katy Perry got into the action, holding up what can only be described as a “fake newspaper,” but with a really politically charged message to follow. (It’s worth noting that Perry—raised in an evangelical Christian household—was an outspoken supporter of Hillary Clinton during her 2016 campaign.)

Maybe MTV is a little more relevant than everybody thought. Or at least they’re trying to be.