The biggest splash for YouTubers in last night’s main show came at the close of the evening. Miley Cyrus’s performance was preceded by a lineup of transgender and genderqueer youth, including digital celebs like Gigi Gorgeous and Brendan Jordan, who spoke about the importance of all the “sticky, young, impressionable minds of our future” watching Cyrus’ “Happy Hippie squad” on TV.
"Because of all the sticky, young, impressionable minds of our future that are watching all of us right now…." pic.twitter.com/OQof7Uqk2C— BRENDAN JORDAN (@brendanwjordan) August 31, 2015
Some YouTubers who appeared throughout the night already have formal relationships with MTV, like Laci Green, who hosts Braless on YouTube for the network and showed up on the red carpet to talk about safe sex with VJ Sway and livetweeted from inside the event.
reppin sex ed at the VMAs! 💁 pic.twitter.com/6saGCotLWi— Laci Green (@gogreen18) August 30, 2015
Todrick Hall was also on deck, performing at the preshow and prominently featuring in promos for MTV’s Monday night programming block. His show, TODRICK , a docuseries that looks at the behind-the-scenes process of his YouTube videos and life, will premiere Sept. 31.
I'm performing tonight at the @mtv pre-show! Make sure you watch!!! ❤️ you guys— Todrick Hall (@todrick) August 30, 2015
Other YouTube talent like Amanda Steele and Mahogany Lox appeared on screen as part of brand deals with sponsors like Clean & Clear and Cover Girl. YouTuber Connor Franta played host on the MTV.com all-access livestream, while stars like Grace Helbig and Tyler Oakley walked the red carpet and attended but didn’t play a part in the show’s proceedings.
im on tv! HI MOM— connor (@connorfranta) August 31, 2015
The #VMAs have become Tumblr personified.— Grace Helbig (@gracehelbig) August 31, 2015
While other teen-centric events like Fox’s Teen Choice Awards have found ways to put YouTubers and Vine stars front and center in their celebrations, the VMAs have yet to fully incorporate digital celebs into the fabric of the show, unless they’re complete crossover breakout successes like Tori Kelly or the archetypical YouTube-to-mainstream success story Justin Bieber. None of the YouTubers with roots on the vlogging side of the platform are finding their way to the main stage yet, unless they’ve got the host on their side, but we think it won’t be long before the Oakleys and Frantas of the world jump to the TV broadcast instead of just the Web and carpet.
Screengrab via gogreen18/Twitter