These Are All The Donald Trump References During The 2017 VMAs

It has been a super political year, and if there is one award show to address the controversies, of course it would be the MTV Video Music Awards. Even before the show aired, it was clear where the network and musicians stood, but viewers might have been a little unprepared for all of the Donald Trump references during the 2017 VMAs.

Some of the references were a little on the nose, but most of them were more indirect, with performers and presenters addressing social justice without naming the president at all. But whether or not they said his name, Trump's presence was felt at the VMAs this year.

Not that it should have been any surprise. For example, MTV invited a group of transgender members of the military to the show in an effort to demonstrate where the MTV crowd stands on inclusivity and protest Trump's recent directive banning transgender military recruits.

The network changed a few things about the categories of the awards in an effort to be just a little more progressive than the administration this year, too. It got rid of gendered categories and called the iconic "Moonman" trophy a "Moonperson," because, well, who knows how it identifies, right?

In addition to that, there was also an entire category called "Best Fight Against The System" video, presented by Heather Heyer's mother. (Heather Heyer was the victim of the Charlottesville, Virginia protests earlier this month.)

The nominees of that category tackle immigration, police brutality, and other issues that have become politicized under the Trump administration. Here are just a few more times the VMAs attendees mentioned Trump, though they didn't say his name outright.

Katy Perry's Intro & All Night, Really

For her big intro, the host of the evening came back from "space" after taking a break for a year. Of course, she had no idea that the "world is on fire," and asked viewers how they were coping. She later joked in a monologue that the "popular vote" actually wins at the VMAs and made another veiled joke about a Russian pop star stealing the Best New Artist award, which is awarded based on viewers' votes.

Paris Jackson Presenting

Jackson gave an impassioned speech about the Charlottesville, Virginia protests earlier this month, speaking out against white supremacy in no uncertain terms. (Unlike President Trump.)

Pink's Performance

Pink accepted the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award for the night, which meant she did a medley of all of her hits. During her performance, she wore a ribbon on her pants saying "Wake The F*ck Up," which one can only assume is a reference to getting out and #RESISTING. On the back of her pants, another ribbon read, more obviously, "Frump Truck." If you can't figure that out, take another minute and unscramble those letters nice and slowly.

Once upon a time, Donald Trump was actually invited to the MTV VMAs as just another C-list celeb in the crown. He often brought Melania or Ivanka with him. There are even images of him checking out Jennifer Lopez on the red carpet in 2002.


After his contentious 2016 campaign and the tumultuous first few months of his presidency, things have certainly changed between Trump and MTV.

The Trump administration's reluctance to denounce white supremacists immediately after the Charlottesville, Virginia protests, his intention to build a border wall, and his effort to ban refugees are just a few of the positions that apparently got him taken off of the invite list this year and also led to some meaningful protests during the awards, without ever mentioning him directly or making light of the politics surrounding the issues.

Although it's "just an award show," the VMAs have long been a place to celebrate diversity in music and pop culture. And with all of the Trump disses, and uplifting messaging, on Sunday night, it might have just declared itself the home of the resistance.