Visionary director Spike Jonze didn’t have YouTube as an outlet when he got his start behind the camera. “I’d make a skateboard video and then give it to somebody in a parking lot on a VHS tape,” he says. “It was a whole different thing.” But Jonze’s appreciation for the egalitarianism of new technology makes him the ideal artistic director for the first-ever YouTube Music Awards.
Hosted by Jason Schwartzman and Reggie Watts, the show will be broadcast live on YouTube from New York City’s Pier 36 on Nov. 3, and will feature performances by Eminem, Lady Gaga, M.I.A., and Arcade Fire. Rather than simply performing on stage, the artists will essentially be filming videos in real time, Jonze says. “We’re trying to make the whole awards show feel like a YouTube video,” he explains.
Though the program will include honors for new-fangled categories — including “Response of the Year” for the best fan-generated parody, remix, or response video — the spirit of the awards should feel a little familiar. “[The producers] all watched old VMA clips on YouTube,” Jonze says. “It was a reference a few of us had come to separately. Those ’80s music- video awards — there’s an ‘anything could happen’ feeling.”