Rage battles security, Survivors strut the aisles, and celebs show booty -- Kristen Baldwin reports

Behind the scenes at the MTV Video Awards

I never thought I’d be thankful for Rage Against the Machine, but after attending last night’s generally dull and disappointing MTV Video Music Awards, I want to buy those antiestablishment scamps a round of drinks. That’s because their bassist Timmy C. provided the show’s only excitement: By climbing up onto the stage display and refusing to come down, he doused the slow, spontaneity free VMAs with a firehose blast of chaos. Watching the otherwise turgid three hour broadcast from the audience was a surreal experience in many ways, so herewith, some random observations from Aisle B, Row M, Seat 204:

? It was clear that even the Wayans brothers — perhaps the sorriest pair of hosts any TV show has ever seen — knew that the Rage fiasco was the show’s first and only truly interesting moment. During the commercial break, while 50 to 75 security personnel attempted to coerce Timmy to come down — one climbed a ladder and tried to forcibly remove him, but Timmy grabbed hold of the display and wouldn’t let go — the desperate Wayans pleaded to the directors: ”Bring us back live! Bring us back live! Turn on the camera! The audience wants to see this!” Finally, after two hours of staged wackiness and leaden jokes, the Wayans knew they were being handed a comedic gem — and none of it was on camera. But after about 15 minutes, the horde of security folks shoved Timmy off stage and pounced on him behind a curtained off area, and the Wayans were robbed of any potentially electric ”in the moment” riffing.

? From an audience member standpoint, the commercial breaks were way more interesting than the broadcast, as celebrities and wannabes prowled the aisles and milled in the lobby. Most of the Survivors were there, and Dr. Sean — all dandied up like a bridge and tunnel pimp, with a black suit, shiny maroon shirt, and hot chick on his arm — made sure to walk up and down the aisle at least twice per commercial break, just to make sure every last person in the hall had a chance to recognize him. Of course, when one woman in the crowd finally did ask for his autograph, he said no.

? By now there’s no question: Macy Gray is crazy. But did anyone blame her for refusing to read the TelePrompter after MTV allowed the Wayans to savage her with an unfunny, tasteless, and completely out of left field parody of her ”I Try” video? ”Now that everybody’s seen my bush, I don’t think I need to say anything else,” she drawled, referring to the skit’s lame visual gag about her overgrown pubic hair. Maybe making fun of the ”I Try” clip would have been fresher if a) it hadn’t come out months ago and b) MTV had ever played it.

? Eminem’s performance was the only one to get the crowd on its feet — but perhaps that’s because we were all craning our necks to see him walk into the building and down the aisle to the stage. Still, he did seem to get the crowd going more than any other act — although maybe it just seemed so to me because I was getting a contact high from the joint someone lit up behind me around that time.

? Just asking: Did Jennifer Lopez borrow her headband from Jackie Stallone? And why did everyone else feel the need to out-naked Jennifer Lopez’s Grammy ”dress”? From Christina Aguilera to Toni Braxton to Britney ”I’m angling for a part in Showgirls II” Spears, it’s ever more apparent that the strength of a celebrity’s career longevity is inversely proportionate to the amount of skin she shows. I’ll end with this priceless observation from one of my colleagues: ”I just saw Carson Daly in the lobby with his girlfriend, Tara Reid, and basically, she was showing ass crack.”