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Music

Politics and Kendrick Lamar dominate MTV Video Music Awards

Rapper Kendrick Lamar picked up six awards at the MTV Video Music Awards gala. Different political and social issues also took center stage at the glitzy event in Los Angeles.

The MTV Video Music Awards gala on Sunday evening in Los Angeles made its first political statement even before the show actually started: Six transgender army members were invited to walk the red carpet, joining top US music stars in protest of President Donald Trump's directive to the Pentagon to ban transgender people from joining the military.

California rapper Kendrick Lamar then kicked off the event with a performance featuring ninjas in flames. Leading the night with his eight nominations, Lamar picked up six awards, including the top accolade for video of the year as well as best hip hop video for "Humble."

Acting against racism and to prevent suicide 

Presenting the first award of the night, Paris Jackson, Michael Jackson's eldest daughter, opened with a speech decrying hate and calling out the neo-Nazis who rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this month.

Susan Bro at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards (Getty Images/K. Winter)

Susan Bro, Heather Heyer's mother, obtained the loudest applause at the gala

The mother of Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old anti-racism protester who was killed by a white supremacist who drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters at the Charlottesville rally, was also invited to take the stage to announce a foundation in honor of her daughter.

Read more: White supremacy and neo-Nazis in the US - what you need to know 

In commemoration of Linkin Park's Chester Bennington and Soundgarden's Chris Cornell, two rock artists who committed suicide this year, Jared Leto, actor and lead singer of the band 30 Seconds to Mars, sent out a message to those struggling with suicidal thoughts.

A song for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, "1-800-273-8255," was also performed by Logic, Alessia Cara and Khalid.

Read more: Chester Bennington's death puts spotlight on suicide and mental health

Redefining images of self

English songwriter Ed Sheeran won the artist of the year award, a new prize after the separate male and female categories were merged. Rapper Khalid won best new artist.

In her acceptance speech for the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, Pink added a moving message directed to her six year-old daughter Willow, who was sitting in the audience, about redefining standards of beauty.

Taylor Swift launched a much-discussed music video for her first solo single in three years, "Look What You Made Me Do," which depicts a hard-edged version of herself and satirically "kills" her older personas.

The video was viewed more than 13 million times on YouTube within eight hours of its premiere. Despite the video's launch and winning an award for best collaboration video with Zayn, Swift didn't show up at the event.

The currently most-viewed video on YouTube, the international megahit "Despacito" lost the only award it was nominated for, song of summer, to Lil Uzi Vert's Top 10 hit, "XO Tour Life."

The show was hosted by Swift's long-time rival, Katy Perry, who made her entrance from the ceiling wearing a spacesuit (top picture) and concluded the three-hour event with a performance of her single "Swish Swish" with Nicki Minaj.

eg/kbm (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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