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7 VMAs Moments That Would Send Gen Z Straight To The ER

In a pre-social-media world, the VMAs really felt like an electric, anything-can-happen sort of evening that was simply a must-watch. Particularly, in the TRL era of MTV, no other award show could compare and it was exciting. That excitement made for authentic, weird, zany moments that Bravo producers could only dream of manufacturing. Though today’s show doesn’t have that level of hype, back when it was past Gen Z’s bedtime and before us Millennials were buying Icy Hot in bulk, the VMAs delivered these top-shelf moments. Before you say, “go to bed, grandma!” — these all really happened, I swear.

Some were shocking, some just don’t make sense now, and some you just had to be there for.  

1. Beyoncé Worked The Red Carpet (2001)

Beyoncé?! Yes, the Beyoncé was tasked with working the 2001 VMAs red carpet. And in true Virgo fashion, she really killed it. Even when dealing with a very flirty Johnny Knoxville and Pink’s annoying little dog, Fucker. Two years later, Bey would make her VMA performance debut, with a show stopping medley of “Baby Boy” and “Crazy in Love.”

2. Carson Daly Brought Out Napster CEO (2000)

*points cane* Do you kiddos know what Napster is? Before Spotify, you had to download songs off your computer via *software* installed on said computer that often gave you viruses and made your parents kick you off of the “house computer” for a month. We were struggling! Anyway, Napster, the OG of music software companies, had gained notoriety (and hate!) from the industry for “democratizing” (AKA not paying royalties to) artists. Cut to Carson Daly bringing out one of its CEO’s Shawn Fanning*, to introduce Britney Spears now iconic “Oops I Did it Again…” performance. 

Please note: I’m not talking about Timberlake’s “You know what’s really cool? A billion dollars” CEO. That’s their other former CEO, Sean Parker. 

3. Tommy Lee And Kid Rock Beat Each Other’s Ass (2007)

In very messy Vegas fashion, Pam Anderson’s ex husbands got into a mid-show brawl over… hmm wonder what? After the fight, in which Lee was bounced from the premises, Kid Rock went on K-ROQ’s The Kevin & Bean show to tell his side of the story claiming it had nothing to do with Pamela. Mmkay, buddy. Later on his site,, Lee detailed his version of the events, “i go to knock this jealous no career havin country bumpkin the fuck OUT…” before detailing how security kicked him out. And all this happened while Alicia Keys was minding her business and trying to perform “No One.” smh.

4. Donald Trump Showed Up With Young Ivanka (1995)

Fun Terrible fact alert! The man hopefully getting a jail jumpsuit the same color as his tan used to make it to the VMAs almost every year likely to oogle JLo or Jenny McCarthy. A particularly heinous appearance of Oompa Loompa was his 1995 attendance with then 14-year-old daughter Ivanka. 

5. MJ And Lisa Marie Presley Kissed (1994)

Everyone talks about that kiss between Madonna, Britney, and Christina; but there’s another kiss that’s still embedded in some elder Millennials’ brains. We talk about bizarro couples all the time, but back in the 90’s there was no couple more bizarre than the King of Pop and Elvis’ daughter. Before kicking off 1994’s festivities, the couple emerged to a screaming crowd. Things were normal-ish for a second until Michael randomly said, “and just think, nobody thought this would last,” gesturing to Lisa Marie before passionately kissing her. The whole thing felt forced and weird and confusing, and the couple was plagued by rumors and speculation. Thus, it came as no surprise when they separated the next year after 18 months of marriage.

6. Eminem Got Dunked On By A Dog (1999)

Eminem has been a stalwart of the VMAs ever since his debut at the 1999 ceremony. Thankfully for us (and Mariah Carey) he’s often been the subject of ridicule a la 2009’s Sacha Baron Cohen’s Bruno stunt. While the previously mentioned was planned, the rapper had no patience for Triumph the Insult Comic Dog’s antics. The character, a beloved and hilarious dog puppet from Conan known for his celeb takedowns, tried to approach Slim Shady himself after going in on Moby. But Eminem wasn’t having it and smushed the puppet, pushing him away. Triumph didn’t miss his chance to roast him though, later telling press that Eminem has smooth hair, “like a beagle’s nutsack,” and “my mom was a bitch too but I don’t go around writing songs about it.” Get him, Triumph! 

7. Daria And Jane Showed Up At The VMAs (1997)

Daria and Jane, from the subversive animated MTV classic, Daria, showed up at the tail end of the 1997 show for a quickie bit in their quintessentially sardonic, sarcastic voices. For you youth, Daria was like Aubrey Plaza before Aubrey Plaza was Aubrey Plaza. You can still stream the OG series on Paramount or PlutoTV, and its skewering of pop culture, dissection of mainstream culture, and women’s roles is just as hilarious, relevant, and enjoyable today. 

Eva Morreale
Eva Morreale
Eva Morreale is a Jersey girl based in Los Angeles. She has an encyclopedia-like knowledge of Sex and the City, the Real Housewives franchise, and always carries Tums. You can follow her whereabouts on IG @evapants or subscribe to her newsletter Fries for the Table (