This week, MTV ran its 33rd annual VMAs, or Video Music Awards – the first since the tragic passing of both Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell and Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington in recent months.
Considering MTV’s huge support for Soundgarden and Chris Cornell throughout their peak in the late ’80s and early ’90s, it wasn’t reasonable to expect that the awards show would take time to pay its respects to one of the icons of rock music during one of its most successful periods.
But while Jared Leto delivered a heartfelt tribute to his friend Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell was largely forgotten throughout the night, making it clear just how far the network has fallen since its heyday decades ago, and delivering one final insult to Soundgarden fans.
As Soundgarden fan and owner of fansite Jeffgarden Jeff Ansari details, the award show’s brief mentions of Chris Cornell were barely noticeable, a shock considering how prominent the band were in MTV’s history.
“While the MTV of 2017 is a far cry from the play-Black-Hole-Sun-500-times-a-day MTV of 1994,” he begins, “it was pretty likely that there would be a pretty meaningful look back at the legacy of Chris Cornell and his bands’ music – even if only a quick montage of music videos over the years.
However, while Jared Leto did pay lip service to Cornell, it was clear that the singer had largely been forgotten.
“While Chris Cornell was mentioned, and Jared did specifically say that he was asked to speak about both Chris and Chester, the fact that it was such an afterthought had us [and many others] assuming that there would still be a Chris Cornell tribute later in the evening.
“Again, Chris was mentioned, but it seemed to be a mention to give some context to Chester’s story. If Chester had passed in a plane crash, I wonder if Chris would have been mentioned at all.”
Jared Leto briefly mentions Chris Cornell and Soundgarden in his tribute to Chester Bennington
In Ansari’s eyes, as a Soundgarden fan, MTV completely dropped the ball on something that shouldn’t have just been a gesture, but instead an obligation.
“This (MTV) is an institution that a lot of Soundgarden fans grew up with,” he says. “An institution that both helped Soundgarden, and owes a great deal to Soundgarden.
“It wouldn’t have taken much to just play 10 seconds of a few videos. It wouldn’t have taken much to spend a separate minute talking about Chris. It wouldn’t have taken much to just air a clip of Chris with Chester and Linkin Park, instead of the 5 seconds of the Linkin Park VMA performance.
“MTV, we’re not angry. Just disappointed.”
Despite the snub, Soundgarden fans have witnessed some touching tributes since Chris Cornell’s passing, with his daughter Toni performing a beautiful rendition of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallalujah’ in his honour, and a statue being commissioned by his widow Vicky for his hometown of Seattle.
You can check out Ansari’s full blog post over on the Jeffgarden fansite, and read more about Leto’s tribute to Chester Bennington here.