Originally Published: April 8, 2017 6 a.m.
I remember watching the 1999 MTV Music Video Awards when something surprising happened that has left a memory more than 18 years later – something I didn’t expect to ever see on anything associated with MTV.
I generally do not watch many awards programs, but I stumbled onto this one and saw that actor/musician Will Smith was a nominee. My children were big fans of Mr. Smith at that time, and still are today. Two of his films, Independence Day and Men In Black, were very popular in the late ’90s. In 1999 he was riding a wave of success in movies and music, a wave that continues to carry him forward in popularity among young people as an actor, singer and music video performer.
That night, a vital message was sent to our youth at an event that most parents and grandparents were not even aware took place. Will Smith made a powerful statement. On that evening he received one of the most prestigious awards in the music video industry – best music video by a male performer.
During his acceptance speech, Mr. Smith told the TV audience, made up of millions of young viewers, that none of his songs contain killing, murder, violence or profanity, and he still was able to win the best male video award.
He confidently and deliberately told the rest of the music industry that violence and vulgarity are not necessary to be a winner. More important, he told our youth the same thing.
Our young people must understand that they do not need to bow down to peer pressure and use filthy language or act in violence to be popular and accepted. They can be winners without the profanity and the angry tough-guy act.
Some musicians teach our children the opposite of this, such as the vulgar video and stage acts of performer Marilyn Manson.
Unfortunately, I remember Mr. Manson also received an award for cinematography at the same MTV event.
Richard Haddad is Director of News & Digital Content for Western News&Info, Inc., the parent company of The Daily Courier.