Nicki Minaj's "Pastor Lydia" Is The Worst Pastor Ever, And More Takeaways From The 2015 VMAs

Nicki Minaj (Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for BMI)
Nicki Minaj (Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for BMI)

1. It is 8:12 am. Which means it's been less than nine hours since I watched the VMAs. In that time span I ate (approximately) seven lukewarm tator tots, drank two glasses of water, slept for six hours, walked my dog, and took The Wife Person™ to work.


I also tried (and failed) to remember any music from last night.

I remember that people on my television screen were performing songs. I remember seeing Kool Moe Dee perform with Macklemore, and I remember thinking that his "Wild Wild West" money must've dried up. Or perhaps, I also thought, maybe he spent it all on a really nice deck 20 years ago. And maybe a deer died on that deck a couple months ago. And it was a really tragic death. Like, imagine if The Notebook was made with deer instead of humans. And Deer Noah died at 32. That's how tragic it was. And the memory of the dead deer on the deck haunts him so much that he needed to tear down the old deck and build a new one. And he needed some cash for that. And that's why he agreed to perform with Macklemore.

Anyway, I remember most of the performances, but I don't actually remember any of the music. I don't necessarily believe that watching a three hour long music awards show and not remembering any of the music is a bad thing. But there's no way to argue that this is a good thing, either.

2. Nicki Minaj's Pastor Lydia may very well be an amazing woman. Maybe she smells like RA African Pure Raw Shea Butter, looks like Gina Torres, makes red velvet pancakes from scratch, is a volunteer firewoman, and can twerk. But she is also the shittiest pastor on the planet. Although I've never stepped foot in her church or heard her preach, I say this with the utmost confidence. Because, if a person makes a point to shout out her pastor on national television literally five seconds before she does some "Well…Jesus aint done with me yet" shit, this person's pastor is a terrible, awful, terrible pastor. Like, if a man who's seeing a marriage counselor cheats on his wife, fine. Shit happens. Doesn't make the marriage counselor a bad marriage counselor. But if dude's at Applebee's happy hour, and announces to the bar that his "marriage counselor is the best marriage counselor ever" moments before he fucks the hostess behind the coat check counter, and you happened to be at that bar, you'd leave thinking "Damn. That marriage counselor must be a shitty marriage counselor."

3. And no, what happened wasn't staged. Nicki Minaj raining all of South Jamaica Queens — every bodega, every hyena-sized rat with personality and a pension, every middle school randomly and confusingly numbered in the 100s — on Miley Cyrus was not planned. At least not planned by MTV. Or Miley Cyrus. (Who, to her credit, did manage to roll with that punch about as well as you can expect in a situation like that.) And you know it wasn't staged because, if you watch her speech again, you can see her taking a bit of an anxious pause/breath before she went in. The same type of anxious pause/breath Kanye took before going in on Bush at the telethon a decade ago. Which veteran read mavens recognize as an "Uh oh. Someone get a plunger, cause some shit's about to go down." tell. Apparently the Minaj household is tired of being at the butt end of beef.

4. Kanye West is a human Rorschach test. Also, the backlash from the incident with Taylor Swift six years ago seems to have hurt him much, much, much more than any of us thought. That apparently (and surprisingly) traumatized him.


And Kim Kardashian somehow manages to consistently look like both a mature 14-year-old trying to look older and an immature 54-year-old trying to look younger at the same time. They are both so bizarre and surreal that I can't imagine either of them being with anyone other than each other.

And this is all I'm going to say about Kanye and Kim.

5. Taylor Swift is often compared to "Regina George" — the queen bee mean girl from Mean Girls. It's an observation both the media and even other artists have made. But I don't think it's entirely accurate. She does seem to be the princess of the music industry (Beyonce, obviously, is the queen, and Rihanna is the deuce of spades), but her force of personality is less intimidation and obvious machination and more passive-aggressive petty with a smile. Always with a smile. Or a pout. Because she's just so damn nice and sweet and perfect that how could you, possibly, not like her?


Basically, she's "Helen Harris III" — Rose's Byrne's passive-aggressive princess from Bridesmaids.

6. I was going to say something about how the 2015 VMAs were an intentional showcase for White cluelessness, as seemingly every popular White artist who's recently been accused of some form of racial insensitivity was featured on the show. Someone even placed an infrared filter over the outdoor stage so Iggy Azelea could be in the daylight without evaporating into two hundred million shitty sounding crystals. But then I realized this wasn't intentional. Because if you only featured the White pop stars who haven't been racially problematic, you'd be left with…Katy Perry? Pink? Joe Biden? I don't know.


7. I might have to discontinue my one-man vendetta against Big Sean, the charter school gym class of rap music. While I still believe he raps like his testicles haven't dropped yet, all things considered, he seems like a likable guy.

8. Jared Leto's intro of The Weeknd's performance — and Miley's orgasmic reaction to him — suggest that The Weeknd is the sexist man alive. That listening to his music makes women ovulate and men enroll in graduate programs. My Twitter timeline, however, told a different story. Because, according to the vast majority of the 1425 people followed by @VerySmartBros, The Weeknd is human Ambien. I have no dog in this fight, but I do think this qualifies as a paradox.


9. Anyway, back to Miley. She is perhaps the world's only vaudevillian millennial. Which would seem like a contradiction. But fits her, because she is a contradiction. She dresses and performs like she's following steps 1 through 23 in a rote catalogue of "Ways To Be Controversial." She'd come on stage dressed as a giant clitoris chained to a whale clitoris if she thought that'd be entertaining. But she sounds and carries herself like she's 57 years old. Seriously, if you just closed your eyes and listened to the diction and confidence and performative world-weariness of her voice, you'd think her name was Maude or Meryl instead of Miley. If Nicki Minaj would have said what she said to her to Taylor Swift instead, Swift would have disintegrated into a puddle of the saddest, Whitest tears that have ever teared. But while Miley tried to deflect with that "taken out of context" line, she didn't exactly cower or back down either. And I do, grudgingly, respect that.

10. It's been (approximately) 90 minutes since I first started writing this. And I still don't remember any of the music from last night. I do remember, however, that the best music video I've ever seen — "Never Catch Me" by Flying Lotus feat. Kendrick Lamar — was released in the last calendar year. And did not receive any mention on a live show recognizing the best music videos of the year. I guess this is a paradox too.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)



I have come to the conclusion that I, at 30 years old, am just no longer hip. I didn't recognize any of the non black performers or their song. I have only heard bad blood once while standing in line at subway (more on that later). And I, legit, thought uptown funk was going to win because I hear it everywhere. I also figure that when kids bop remakes your song that you've really made it.
After the VMAs, I felt unfulfilled, so I went on YouTube and stumbled upon a 90s dance mix that started off with tootsie roll, whomp there it is, poison, when I dip you dip and back that azz up, so I ended the night drenched in sweat and exhausted from, literally, dancing the night away. Then all was right with the world again.