It’s time to give Missy Elliott the VMA’s Video Vanguard Award

It’s overdue.

July 16, 2018
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On Monday, MTV announced the nominees for the 2018 Video Music Awards, including Cardi B, The Carters, and Childish Gambino — all genre-pushing artists who have used music videos as a way to artfully define themselves in a very noisy landscape. But none of them would be here without Missy Elliott, an artist who has continually redefined the limits of what music videos could and should look like. More than anyone, she deserves to be given the VMAs’ highest honor, the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.

The prize was awarded in 2017 to Pink, who joined the ranks of past winners including Madonna, Peter Gabriel, Guns N’ Roses, Beastie Boys, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, Kanye West, and Rihanna. 22 of the award's 33 winners since it was first awarded in 1984 have been white men or bands made up of all white men, one of the VMAs whitest categories. LL Cool J was the first rapper to win the award when he received it in 1997. Hype Williams, one of Missy's closest collaborators, was actually given the honor in 2006, but Missy is still empty-handed.

This year, I urge the VMAs to correct a historical error by giving the award award to Missy. Below is just a small taste of her culture-shifting work, which shook the whole medium.

"The Rain"

Possibly her best known video and a wildly cool piece of art. Is there anything in history more iconic than Missy's black trash bag suit?

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"Get Ur Freak On"
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This insane spit-take moment alone should have net Missy a MacArthur 'Genius' grant. The choreography is beyond on-point, too.

"Sock It 2 Me"

Facts are facts America: Missy Elliott invented G-Mail and Google owes her all of the royalties.

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"Work It"
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In selecting a GIF for this video, I picked this bug look — but there were 9,000 others I could've chosen from. A total masterpiece and better than anything nominated for any award in 2018.

"I'm Really Hot"

Somehow underrated I think, the video for "I'm Really Hot" is cinematic as hell and equally breathtaking. The child actors in this are actually really good and as always, the dancing is marvelous.

"She's A Bitch"
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This Afrofuturist pièce de résistance is a black-and-white moment for the ages. It's one of Hype Williams's best videos of all time and should be respected as such.

"Gossip Folks"

Missy Elliott gave us Alyson Stoner a.k.a. basically "good bhabie." But this zany video has so much more to offer, including Missy rocking the hell out of a dunce cap.

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"Beep Me 911"
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This gold look is just fucking everything.

"I'm Better"

In case you lost your mind and thought Missy fell off in some way, you should watch 2017's "I'm Better." The exercise ball choreography is transcendent and it's a testament to her power that she's able to pull off this quality of work with video budgets being a sliver of what they were when she first started her career.

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It’s time to give Missy Elliott the VMA’s Video Vanguard Award