The MTV Video Music Awards (commonly abbreviated as the VMAs) is an award show presented by the cable channel MTV to honor the best in the music video medium. Originally conceived as an alternative to the Grammy Awards (in the video category), the annual MTV Video Music Awards ceremony has often been called the "Super Bowl for youth", an acknowledgment of the VMA ceremony's ability to draw millions of youth from teens to 20-somethings each year. By 2001, the VMA had become a coveted award. The statue given to winners is an astronaut on the moon, one of the earliest representations of MTV, and was colloquially called a "moonman". However, in 2017, Chris McCarthy, the president of MTV, stated that the statue would be called a "Moon
Person" from then on. The statue was conceived by Manhattan Design—also designers of the original MTV logo—based on the 1981 "Top of the Hour" animation created by Fred Seibert, produced by Alan Goodman, and produced by Buzz Potamkin at Buzzco Associates. The statue is now made by New York firm Society Awards. Since the 2006 ceremony, viewers are able to vote for their favorite videos in all general categories by visiting MTV's website.
The annual VMA ceremony occurs before the end of summer and held either in late August or mid-September, and broadcast live on MTV, along with a "roadblock" simulcast across MTV's sister networks since 2014, which is utilized to maximize the ceremony's ratings. The first VMA ceremony was held in 1984 at New York City's Radio City Music Hall. The ceremonies are normally held in either New York City or Los Angeles. However, the ceremonies have also been hosted in Miami and Las Vegas. The 2019 MTV Video Music Awards took place on August 26, 2019, in Newark for the first time.
The Washington Post and HuffPost stated that the stature of the ceremony had declined by 2019.HuffPost cited reasons such as a lack of interest (declining attendances and viewership: in 2019 ratings hit an all-time low for the third straight year), lack of musical diversity, lack of celebrity, lack of credibility, and access to music online.The Washington Post states, "The moment the VMAs ceased to matter might have happened in 2014, when Drake didn't bother appearing to receive his award. Or maybe it was even earlier than that: The Associated Press compared the energy of the VMAs to the scripted reality-TV show Cribs all the way back in 2006". MTV has also faced criticism for devoting most of its airtime outside the VMAs to reality shows and dramas, with music videos mainly airing in off-peak graveyard slots to suffice the minimum amount of music programming in the network's carriage agreements.