The Most Revolutionary Moments In VMA History [GIFs]

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By Alexandra Govere and Danica Davidson

While we gear up for the 2014 Video Music Awards, let’s give props to the amazing moments that have made the VMAs one of the most pro-social, political and downright revolutionary awards shows on TV.

+ 1984: Madonna Performs “Like A Virgin” At The First Ever VMAs.

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Who better to christen the first ever VMAs than the queen of pop herself? Madonna performed “Like a Virgin” at the 1984 VMAs, becoming one of the first female artists to express her sexuality in a shameless, powerful, and oh-so-eighties way. Werk that wedding dress, gurl!

+ 1984-Present: The Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award

The Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, also known as the Lifetime Achievement Award, is given to artists who’ve made a lasting impact on pop culture through music and art. Named after one of the most accomplished artists of all time — MJ — past recipients include David Bowie, Bon Jovi and Britney Spears. This year it’s going to Beyoncé!

+ 1992: Pearl Jam Wins Video Of The Year.

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Pearl Jam‘s “Jeremy” video won the award of the night at the 1992 VMAs. Singer Eddie Vedder wrote the song after reading a newspaper article about a high school student who shot himself in front of his English class. The video shed some much-needed light on teen suicide, an issue still very much in need of our attention. In a 2009 interview about the song, Vedder said that he felt “the need to take that small article and make something of it — to give that action, to give it reaction, to give it more importance.”

+ 1997: Fiona Apple Calls People Out.

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Upon winning the Moonman for Best New Artist, songstress Fiona Apple had one thing to say: “This world is bullsh*t!” Although her choice of words was controversial, it was her rebellious way of telling viewers to get up and be themselves.

+ 1997: Diddy Honors Biggie.

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At the 1997 VMAs, Diddy couldn’t pass up an opportunity to pay tribute to his fallen friend and artist The Notorious B.I.G. The heartfelt performance included a moving rendition of “I’ll Be Missing You,” featuring Sting and Faith Evans.

+ 1998: Mariah Carey & Whitney Houston Make Friends.

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When Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey took the 1998 VMAs stage in matching brown dresses, people didn’t know what to expect. While attending an awards show in similar outfits typically fuels celebrity feuds, the ladies did it to squash rumors of their rivalry, proving that two successful women in the same field, in the same dress, can totally be BFFs.

+ 1999: Biggie’s & Tupac’s Moms Make Peace.

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Afeni Shakur and Voletta Wallace — the mothers of the late Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G. — presented the Best Rap Video award at the 1999 VMAs. Ms. Shakur put an end to the rappers’ longtime feud, saying, “We stand united as mothers preserving their legacies.”

+ 2009: Beyoncé Gives Taylor Swift Her Moment Back.

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While accepting the 2009 Moonman for Video of the Year, Beyoncé invited Taylor Swift onstage to finish her Best Female Video speech, which was interrupted by Kanye West earlier in the show. “This is amazing,” Knowles said. “I remember being 17 years old, up for my first MTV award with Destiny’s Child, and it was one of the most exciting moments of my life. So I would like for Taylor to come out and have her moment.”

+ 2010: Lady Gaga Sings “Born This Way.”

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Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” is arguably one of the best self-acceptance anthems of our generation, and it lived up to the hype at the 2010 VMAs, where Gaga previewed the track in a dress made entirely of raw meat. Gaga won EIGHT awards throughout the night, including Video of the Year.

+ 2012: Demi Lovato Wins Best Video With A Message.

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Demi Lovato always uses her voice to make the world a better place, so it comes as no surprise that she won Best Video With a Message Award for “Skyscraper.” The song and video came shortly after Demi spent time in rehab, after which she became a spokesperson for physical and mental health and a role model to all youths struggling to accept themselves.  

+ 2013: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis Win With “Same Love”

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Marriage equality got a big musical win at last year’s VMAs. Not only did Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Mary Lambert perform the amazing song “Same Love,” but they got the Moonman for Best Video with a Social Message. We can’t wait to see who wins this year!

+ 2013: Jason Collins Takes the Stage

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Jason Collins, the first openly gay player in the NBA, was able to introduce “Same Love,” and he also talked about the importance of making positive change, noting, “the only way things change is when you stand up for what you believe in.”

What kind of pro-social action is going to go down, and who will take home our fave Video With a Message Award, at this year’s VMAs? You’ll have to tune

The 2014 MTV Video Music Awards are a wrap! Stick with us for the most talked-about moments, red carpet photos, the VMA winners list and more.

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