The setup of the event was different from previous years, too. the parking lot behind the main stage, usually transformed into an inviting open space with catering, drinks and live music, was closed off and used as a holding area, with security guards lining the perimeter. Inside, it was easy to forget that I was at the awards show because I had to rely on one of the many televisions throughout the building for a play-by-play. It ultimately defeats the purpose of a live experience, especially when the volume is turned off.
The MuchMusic Video Awards (MMVAs) came and went for another year on June 19. I am often asked what it’s like to attend that exclusive event. I covered it for Xtra from 2004 to 2007, during a time when members of the media were invited to mingle with celebrities and industry types alike. That access created an engaging atmosphere, conducive to this former social columnist’s beat.
However, in much the same way that nightlife and communities change and evolve, so does the media landscape. The MMMVAs have undergone a drastic transformation over the past decade, with increased production costs and the biggest show in years. Hundreds of fans, including some really colourful characters, lined up for days, through all types of weather, to get in.
Luckily, I was not one of them. Media accreditation for the event is based on several factors, including the outlet you work for, the size of its audience and its medium. Once accredited, you are given a coloured wristband that indicates the areas you are authorized to access within the BellMedia building during the event. This year, members of the media were provided with a white press wristband and confined to the media area. Trips outside or to the washrooms meant being escorted by runners. It was through these interactions that I met a lot of keen MuchMusic interns, who devote four months of their lives for a really interesting opportunity.
The press room was divided into three unique areas: a conference space, a photo area and a small lounge room, each lined with a long black tarp to define the space. Many of the celebrities scheduled to appear in the media area, according to our itinerary, were no-shows, such as Avril Lavigne and Selena Gomez. However, the biggest star of the night, Lady Gaga, did show up. After two questions, she was wrapped. “The press is your friend, and it is all an art form,” she said. “You choose what the public views, and what the public sees of you.”
The open bar, with domestic beer and a range of red and white wine selections, was the only thing that felt familiar at this year’s event. The food was cold pad thai, green leafy salads, baguettes and a decent dessert menu.