At Sunday's 2017 MTV Video Music Awards, music icon Pink was awarded the Video Vanguard award for her impressive 17-year career. But before she could actually hold that Moonperson statue, she gave a performance that left everyone, in the worlds of VMAs host Katy Perry, "shooketh." Pink's performance was an emotional medley of some of her biggest hits, transitioning into a beautiful rendition of her newest single, "What About Us." While the song's lyrics could be interpreted a dozen ways, Pink's VMAS performance of "What About Us" was really about America.
The awards show was filled with plenty of political references and mentions of the state the country is in right now. Paris Jackson, presenting the award for best pop video, directly spoke out against the violence in Charlottesville that happened just two weeks ago, imploring the audience:
Leave here tonight remembering that we must show these Nazi white supremacist jerks in Charlottesville, and all over the country, that as a nation — with ‘liberty’ as our slogan — we have zero tolerance for their violence, their hatred, and their discrimination. We must resist.
Cardi B's time on the VMAs stage included a shoutout to NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who after kneeling during the national anthem during last year's football season, became the source of controversy and is now no longer on a team. Host Katy Perry gave a few thinly veiled digs at President Trump, speaking about a "secret Russian pop star" intervening in the voting and how some people need to learn to "save draft" when tweeting. Kendrick Lamar opened the VMAs with a powerful, fiery performance that spoke out against police brutality.
Basically, MTV didn't shy away from addressing the atrocities happening in America right now. But Pink's performance took it to the next level. Her rendition of "What About Us" wasn't just a beautiful song proving her musical prowess — it was a musical plea for America.
Wearing ribbons around her waist that read "Fump Truck" and "Wake The F*ck Up," Pink didn't hold back. Her performance began with "Get The Party Started," then quickly transitioned into "Raise Your Glass," melding together lyrics that basically say, if you're different and if you're considered an underdog, get up — it's time to get things started for America. It's time to stop sitting back and start resisting — and that means actually doing something. "We will never be, never be anything but loud," Pink sings. Oh, hi citizens of America. Let's not be anything but loud, OK?
But after singing this mash-up of songs in a car that lowered to a stage, Pink hopped onto a lawn mower, shouting a lyric from her hit song "So What" — "I wanna start a fight!" As she continued the song, she drove her lawnmower down a catwalk of the stage, right between several women wearing "blackout" bands across their breasts and bottom half while yielding chainsaws. (It was as awesome as it sounds, especially when she high-fived her daughter watching from the side of the stage.)
All of this? It's about America. Specifically, what America should be doing — refusing to back down, giving zero f*cks about being loud and outrageous and doing what needs to be done. But once she transitioned into "What About Us," Pink's theme was even more obvious.
With different background dancers of different ethnicities, body types, and styles, Pink's stage tableau immediately made an impact. But as she began singing the lyrics to "What About Us," her dancers began to perform, creating an intense, moving tribute to the lyrics like, "What about us? What about all the times you said you had the answers?" And it wasn't lost on a lot of viewers that two of the dancers paired together were both men. In fact, many of the dancers sported "untraditional" outfits, looks, hair styles, and more.
At the end of the performance, after a lot of incredible displays of the entire crew of dancers moving in sync together, Pink stood in the center of the group, and they all raised arms to the sky, locking hands. A sea of colors and faces looked out into the audience, asking, "What about us?" as if the song were to America: What about when you said you had the answers? We are billions of beautiful hearts, and you sold us down the river too far?
With Pink's expressive outfit and her intentionality in including more than just your average white dancer, she pushed a major narrative — America has to change. America has failed its people, the billions of beautiful hearts, in a lot of ways. What about the American dream? What about justice and liberty for all? What about love? What about trust? The icon sang, "We are problems that want to be solved. We are children that want to be loved. We were willing, we came when you called. But then you fooled us. Enough is enough."
Enough is enough, indeed.
Pink's performance was more than just an emotional medley of her hits. It was more than just proof of her deserving the Vanguard award. It was an acknowledgement that right now America is failiy the children that want to be loved. We have to resist, we have to stand together, arms linked, and we have to find answers to the problems that want to be solved. And Pink seems to think we can do that, together.