The 17 Most Important Faces of the 2013 VMAs

Jemal Countess/FilmMagic Justin Timberlake

If you dared go near Twitter, or the darker corners of MySpace, or, heaven forfend, accidentally tuned your television to MTV, the 2013 Video Music Awards is a thing that happened to you last night. But we’re here to let you know it’s OK; it also happened to us. It’s a losing game to question whatever motives got us to this place — a desire to see if Lady Gaga would wear a blank pizza box on her face, an overwhelming curiosity about which members of ‘N Sync are still alive, or the hope that you might be able to ensnare YouTube pixie Austin Mahone in your dream catcher should he escape your plasma TV, per the love-spell you cast — when we’re all on the other side of it now. We’re safe.

A little later today, Grantland’s own Amos Barshad will be reporting on his experience from deep inside the belly of the VMA beast. (Live from Brooklyn, which now is a smoldering ruin.) But for the moment, let’s all relive the VMAs through the faces. The glorious, glorious faces. Faces of Triumph. Faces of Defeat. (There were no Faces of Defeat; these are not real awards.) Faces of Just So Very Happy to Be Back Onstage With Justin Timberlake. Every face tells a story, one that ends in, “None of you people have any respect for your free time. Enjoy your bowl of microwave soup. By the time this image reaches you, I will be splashing around in a koi pond full of Ciroc with a Chechen warlord’s second-favorite offspring.”

Here we go. To the faces.

The “Madonna Just Texted Me ‘Congrats, This Is Some Hot Garbage'”

The “You’re Hurting Me, Taylor! I Told Them to Withdraw My Name, Just Like You Said! Please Stop Twisting the Fork in My Navel! You Can Have My Moonman, I Don’t Care!”

The “As Long As I’m Going to Be Birthed From This Here Teddy Bear’s Cavernous Chest-Vagina, Might As Well Stick Out My Tongue, Y’all”

The “Hey Hey Hey We Both Had Famous Daddys Hey Hey Hey That Was Weird Hey Hey Hey Let’s Work Through It Together Hey Hey Hey and Make the Greatest Dry-Hump Baby in the World”*

[*Not to be sung to the tune of “Blurred Lines.” No way that scans.]

[Vine: Courtneyyyy]

The “Jared Leto Points, Exists”

The “Kanye West Has Become a Terrifying Forest Creature With a God Complex”

The “Even With All the Processing Power of Our Disco-CPUs, We Cannot Compute Why Anyone Would Ever Risk Having This Woman Write a Song About Them. She Wins Awards For That Shit.”

The “Sorry, Ladies. I Had No Idea ‘Take Back the Night’ Was a Thing”

The “Har Har Harfff I Am a Human Person Who Enjoys Your Entertainments, Clap Now for the Tomberlukes. Good Show Josten, Nice Jiggy Time.”

The “One Direction Sees Into Its Future During the 'N Sync Reunion, Is Overcome With Despair Wondering Who Becomes the Fatone”

The “Thanks for Doing This, J-Man, It’s Been a Rough Go for Everyone. Chris Kirkpatrick’s Been Sleeping in One of My Fedoras. He Brings a Friend Now, and It’s Getting Awkward. I Mean, for Him, Fine, I’ll Help Out, But I Feel a Little Taken Advantage Of.”

The “This Award Means Literally Nothing. Would You Like Gold Popcorn Instead? I’ll Get You Some Gold Popcorn, That’s the One With Real Gravitas.”

The “You Gonna Make Fun of My New Album Cover, Tweens? Choke on My Amazing Profile. Drizzy Out.”

The “Hey, I’m Austin Mahone. All Your Daughters Belong to Me Now. Don’t Worry, I’mma Treat Them Right. [Unscrews Head, Reveals Junior Swagdevil Beneath, Breathes Fire Directly Into Your Soul.]”

The “Want to Meet My Spirit Gorilla? His Name is Gary. Gary Mars. He’s Got a Little Cocaine Problem.”

The “This Show’s Been Three Hours. I Can’t Go Another Round. None of Us Can … Fuck It. Cut Me, Mickey. I’m Going Back Out There. Tell John I Love Him”

The “Death-Head Moonman Will Plant a Flag in Your Heart Tonight. This Will Kill You. And It’s All Your Fault for Inviting Him Into Your Home. [Unscrews Head, Reveals Austin Mahone Beneath, Breathes Fire Directly Into Your Soul.]”

Filed Under: Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Mtv, Reunions, VMAs, Will Smith

Mark Lisanti is an editor at Grantland.

Archive @ marklisanti