Michael Jackson’s name may no longer be tied to one of MTV’s most iconic honors. Ten years after his death, MTV is reportedly considering removing Jackson’s name from the Video Vanguard Award at the annual Video Music Awards (VMAs.) The award, which honors the accomplishments of artists, directors, and entertainers in the music video industry, has been given out under Jackon’s name for the past 28 years.
An insider told Page Six the network is considering removing Jackson’s name from the award amid fallout from HBO’s explosive Leaving Neverland documentary. The controversial documentary unearthed disturbing abuse allegations against Jackson by Wade Robeson and James Safechuck dating back to the 1980s when they were young boys. While Jackson’s estate has denied the claims against the late singer and even filed a lawsuit against HBO, MTV potentially banning Jackson’s name from the VMAs’ most prestigious award would be the latest fallout from the film.
“There’s a lot of heated discussion at the network about how to handle the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award this year, and it’s getting ugly. There’s talk about if they should change the name, or get rid of it altogether. [There’s also talk] about who would present it and who would accept it. It’s a mess.”
— Complex (@Complex) July 27, 2019
The first Video Vanguard Award was given to David Bowie, the Beatles, and director Richard Lester at the inaugural VMAs in 1984. Jackson received the award in 1988, presented to him by Peter Gabriel, and by 1991 the award was renamed in his honor to his groundbreaking achievements in the music video arena. Since being renamed the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, the honor has gone to artists such as Bon Jovi, Britney Spears, Beyonce, Kanye West, Tom Petty, and Rihanna.
Because the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award is not given out annually, MTV has time to possibly rename it for future VMA ceremonies. Last year’s recipient, Jennifer Lopez, was announced last July, one month ahead of the VMAs’ August airdate. But thus far, no Video Vanguard Award inductee has been announced for 2019, even though the VMA nominees were all announced last week.
In addition to having an award named in his honor, Michael Jackson had been a huge part of MTV’s annual VMA celebration for 25 years before his sudden death in 2009. In addition to accepting his own VMA from Arsenio Hall in 1988, Jackson famously smooched then-wife Lisa Marie Presley at the 1994 VMAs. One year later, the King of Pop opened the VMAs with an epic 15-minute performance, MTV.com notes. Jackson also famously joined *NSYNC onstage at the 2001 Video Music Awards, where he didn’t sing but did show off his signature dance moves.
The 2019 Video Music Awards will be held Aug. 26 and broadcast on MTV.