MTV’s Video Music Awards have long served as a touchstone for cultural issues across the globe. But now, producers are struggling with how to address Demi Lovato ’s reported overdose last month, according to a producer for the awards show.
“It’s so important,” executive producer Brad Gilmer told Us Weekly. “We just talked about this. We toggle back and forth with this big platform. Sometimes, the thought is, ‘Let’s use this for a greater good.’ But sometimes, we get feedback that people want to come in and escape the world for a minute.”
The VMAs have tackled serious issues before — last year, Charlottesville riot victim Heather Heyer’s mother delivered a speech in which she announced the start of a nonprofit organization to give scholarships to people fighting racism, and the show honors Best Video With a Social Message, which Lovato won in 2012 for “Skyscraper” — but this year’s awards show is intended to be on the lighter side to help its audience escape hard news.
“What you’re going to see this year are a couple of poignant moments and the lion’s share is going to be straight fun,” Gilmer told Us.
While it is unclear how (and if) Lovato’s situation will be addressed, Gilmer confirmed that there will definitely be a tribute to Aretha Franklin, who died on August 16. The form of the tribute has yet to be decided, but Gilmer told Us he wants it to be “honest and get the right people involved.”
The 2018 MTV Video Music Awards air on MTV on Monday, August 20, at 9 p.m. EST.
Refinery29 has reached out to MTV for comment and will update this post as more information becomes available.
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