MTV announced Tuesday that Kanye West would receive the prestigious Video Vanguard award at the VMAs this Sunday.
The award typically comes with serious screen time; previous winners like Justin Timberlake and Beyonce have given super-sized, memorable performances, and presumably Kanye West will do the same, likely accompanying some kind of iconic speech about a topic of West’s choosing (police brutality? 10-year anniversary of Katrina? Fashion?).
As literally everyone is aware, West infamously “Imma Let You Finish”-ed Swift when she won her VMA at the 2009 ceremony, resulting in a public shunning of West and an outpouring of sympathy for Swift. For a long time, West was invited to exactly zero slumber parties at Swift’s house. The long-held hurt feelings (Never forget: Swift sang “Innocent,” a tune clearly inspired by West, at the 2010 VMA ceremony) began to publicly thaw earlier this year when the two appeared to be having a friendly chat at the 2015 Grammys.
Earlier this month, Swift told Vanity Fair of her evolving relationship with West, “I feel like I wasn’t ready to be friends with him until I felt like he had some sort of respect for me, and he wasn’t ready to be friends with me until he had some sort of respect for me — so it was the same issue, and we both reached the same place at the same time,” she said. “I became friends with Jay Z, and I think it was important, for Jay Z, for Kanye and I to get along…And then Kanye and I both reached a place where he would say really nice things about my music and what I’ve accomplished, and I could ask him how his kid’s doing….we haven’t planned [any collaboration]…But, hey, I like him as a person. And that’s a really good, nice first step, a nice place for us to be.”
Will that “nice place to be” extend to the VMA stage? It would be mutually beneficial for both of them to give the crowd that scene. For Swift — who will be having a big night herself with her “Bad Blood” the odds-on favorite for winning Video of the Year — it’s a moment to show off how far she’s come, as well as an appealing chance at total domination of the evening. For West, it’s an opportunity to right a wrong and a chance to show how much he’s grown — not to mention more attention on an already-important night for him. And for both, it could be an endearing moment for the sometimes self-serious stars to laugh at themselves.
Just picture it: Swift walks onstage. “Oh hey guys!” she says with a little laugh to loud audience cheers. “I’m so excited to be here. I want to tell you about Kanye West. [crowd goes nuts] Now, I know a little something about bad blood, and it’s no secret Kanye and I have had our differences. But that’s the thing about Kanye: Even when you’re mad at him, or disagree with what he’s saying, you can’t look away. His work highlights his unique worldview, and he’s truly a one-of-a-kind artist and he has an incredible performance for you all right now. I do hope you let him finish it. [laughs a bit to herself] Ladies and gentleman, KANYE WEST.”