One of MTV’s most honored statues at the Video Music Awards ceremony may change its name, according to a new report from Page Six. The Michael Jackson Vanguard Award, named for the late singer, is usually given to a performer who has created timeless pieces of art through the medium of music videos.
Reportedly executives at the network are looking to change the name in order to distance themselves after the fallout of the explosive accusations made in HBO’s Leaving Neverland documentary. In the two-part series, two of Jackson’s former mentees, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, claim they were sexually abused by the singer over a period of years while they were minors.
\“There’s a lot of heated discussion at the network about how to handle the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award this year, and it’s getting ugly,” a source told Page Six. “There’s talk about if they should change the name, or get rid of it altogether. [There’s also talk] about who would present it and who would accept it. It’s a mess.”
“MTV [potentially] banning his name is the latest fallout. They haven’t decided yet, but they’ve been going back and forth on it. There are a lot of issues,” a source continued.
The allegations made by Robson and Safechuck have been refuted by Jackson’s family and his estate. In February Jackson’s estate filed a $100 million dollar lawsuit against the network, claiming it had breached a prior contract by making disparaging remarks about the singer. HBO has countered, saying the terms of the contract have long since expired.
The award first appeared in 1984 at the network’s inaugural show and Jackson received the award in 1988. It was later named after the pop icon in 1991. Rihanna, Beyoncé, Kanye West, Justin Timberlake and Jennifer Lopez are some of the A-listers who have received the honor.
Nominees for the award categories were announced last week, with Taylor Swift, Arianna Grande and Lil Nas X topping the list. The network has not yet announced who will receive the award in 2019.