Know Your VMA History: Why Britney And Michael Jackson's 2002 VMA Moment Matters

In years past, this was one of the funniest -- and most awkward VMA moments in all of VMA history. It was the 2002 VMAs, and Britney Spears -- after she broke up with Justin Timberlake and around the time she dated Fred Durst (the beginning of the downward spiral?) took to the stage at Radio City Music Hall (also the location of the 2009 MTV VMAs) to present Michael Jackson with a birthday cake.

Britney was dressed like she'd shown up to a ladies-only Village People tribute concert. A nervous-looking Michael Jackson -- dressed half like a robot -- appeared out of it or uncertain as to why he was at the VMAs in the first place,  and unfortunately what transpired was something akin to a tragic game of telephone or disastrous round of dominoes; Britney referred to Michael Jackson as "the artist of the millennium." Michael Jackson took that as a cue to accept what he was either told was or interpreted as an MTV Artist of the Millennium VMA.

The Britney-Michael Jackson VMA moment seemed funny at the time and became Just Another Michael Jackson Joke. But really, in the wake of his untimely death, it's not something to snicker at anymore (except for Britney's outfit, because that's still funny). While Michael Jackson wasn't officially accepting an Artist of the Millennium award, if such an award existed, he'd be the first one it'd go to. And the only one it'd go to. Michael Jackson was by far the biggest and most important star to ever attend the VMAs. Without him, it's hard to imagine MTV at all... How do you think MTV should remember Michael at the 2009 VMAs?

Don't miss the 2009 VMAs live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Sunday, September 13 at 9pm!

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