Michael Jackson receives the MTV Video Vanguard award in 1989.

Michael Jackson receives the MTV Video Vanguard award in 1989.

In an effort to distance itself from the controversial allegations made against Michael Jackson, MTV has quietly removed Jackson’s name from the Video Vanguard Award.

The first Video Vanguard Award was presented in 1984, and in 1991, the award’s title was altered to include Michael Jackson’s name.  This year’s Video Vanguard Award was given to Missy Elliott, who thanked MTV for giving her the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.

In addition to removing Michael Jackson’s name from the award and this year’s program, MTV has cut Jackson’s title from both their website and from descriptions of previous years’ shows. As was reported, MTV considered taking Jackson’s name off the award, but all signs indicated that the King of Pop would still be part of the VMAs.

MTV execs apparently had second thoughts.

Michael Jackson, one of the most commercially successful and popular artists of all time, battled multiple sexual assault allegations starting in the early 90s.  The first accusation against Jackson came in 1993, when Evan Chandler accused him of sexual abuse.  Little evidence was provided by Chandler, and prosecutors didn’t feel confident enough to press charges. Jackson settled the matter out of court.

By 2003, Jackson faced nine charges relating to the sexual abuse of minors, and he was acquitted on all counts. However, Leaving Neverland, the HBO-produced 2019 documentary that explores the sexual assault allegations made by some of Jackson’s alleged victims, resulted in renewed public criticism of Jackson.

The result is a continued dismantling of Jackson’s legacy, with the Jackson estate suffering dramatic revenue drops.

Leaving Neverland prompted enormous drops in radio spins of Jackson’s music, though ironically, streaming plays on platforms like Spotify actually increased.

Jackson’s estate firmly denied the claims made in the film and is currently suing HBO for roughly $100 million.  A documentary that’s meant to tell “the other side of the story” and disprove the Leaving Neverland allegations, Michael Jackson: Chase the Truth, released on August 13th. The film is available on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and other on-demand platforms.

At the time of writing, MTV hadn’t issued a public statement about — or acknowledgement of — the removal of Jackson’s name from the Video Vanguard Award.