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MTV Defers to President Obama, Moves VMAs Up an Hour

Barack Obama

The MTV Video Music Awards have always been far more about the spectacle of ceremony than the awards. As SPIN editor Steve Kandell has put it, the network “doesn’t pretend that Video Music Awards themselves are worth much more than the pewter they’re molded from. The show has always been about the balance of unscripted — or unscripted-seeming — moments popping out of a carefully choreographed marketing extravaganza, little daisies springing out of a morass of mud.” That perspective makes sense paired with the network’s decision yesterday to move the 2012 ceremony, which is slated for September 6 in Los Angeles, up an hour “to avoid conflict with the Democratic National Convention proceedings that evening.” Those proceedings center around President Barack Obama’s speech following his acceptance as the 2012 Democratic presidential nominee, and could cut away a significant chunk of viewership if the awards and the DNC broadcast were to fall simultaneously.

The event will shift from its usual 9 to 11 p.m. Eastern Time slot forward an hour, to 8 to 10 p.m. (basically ensuring that VMA attendees will get to see the light of day when they leave the building at 7 p.m. Pacific). Obama and the DNC will take the nationally broadcasted stage around 10 p.m. As Deadline points out, the NFL has also obliged the President for the evening by moving its regular-season opener up a day, to September 5.

The MTV shift, however, is notable because its audience comprises a largely youth-driven demographic, which has long been President Obama’s central voting constituency (see: his cool-dad Spotify playlist, his jokes about Jeezy, and of course, his collaboration with the Roots). Obama’s ties to the music industry also range from being endorsed by rappers (Jay-Z and Bey have long been welcomed White House guests) to influencing record sales. Even First Lady Michelle Obama has made her own mark on the music world.