Perry immediately did what all awards show hosts do—attempt to make culturally relevant jokes.
Unfortunately, a lot of Perry’s bits and one-liners fell flat with the Twitter audience, and plenty of people experienced secondhand embarrassment on behalf of the failed material. Some of Perry’s onstage moments were more cringe than others, at least.
Seconds into her opening monologue, Perry brand-dropped Yeezys and pulled a red dress and bonnet from a rolling rack in reference to A Handmaid’s Tale.
“Very retro pilgrim,” she said, making light of a show about the commodification of women’s bodies, rape, and totalitarianism.
Perry also played with a fidget spinner because, you know, that’s what the kids are doing.
Later in the show, Perry flirted (?) with Harry Styles and stroked her own breast while addressing him.
In some upsetting syntactic gymnastics, Perry managed to work “shooketh” into a sentence before saying, “My wig is snatched.” It was rough. So rough.
— v ૐ (@ohsnapitz_val) August 28, 2017
In general, people cringed.
— ᴅᴀʏʟᴀɴ (@dayjonessmith) August 28, 2017
Even celebrities in the VMAs audience were cringing—or at least staring blankly into space and not laughing.
— Hunter Ingram (@hunter_wesley) August 28, 2017
— Chris (@cborgione) August 28, 2017
Overall, Perry’s jokes at the VMAs were the equivalent of your mom picking up on a trend months after it’s over. Or this.