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Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
In recent years, awards shows have taken somewhat incoherent positions on controversial, problematic figures. The country star Morgan Wallen, for instance, remains extremely popular after he was caught on video screaming a racial slur outside his house late one night. Last year, Wallen got prominent nominations at the CMA Awards and the American Music Awards, but he was banned from attending both ceremonies. The Billboard Music Awards are doing things differently. When the show goes down this weekend, Morgan Wallen will perform. So will Travis Scott. Scott will give one of his first performances since last year’s Astroworld Festival, where hundreds of people were injured and 10 were killed in a crowd crush.
For both of these bookings, we can thank Sean “Diddy” Combs, who will serve as both host and executive producer of the Billboard Music Awards. Diddy was recently in the news for claiming that he’d made peace between Will Smith and Chris Rock at the Oscars, and our Number Ones column has recently been chronicling Diddy’s extensive history with the Billboard charts. When Travis Scott was announced as a performer a couple of days ago, Diddy posted an Instagram video in which he took credit: “I made a request. I made a demand. I said, ‘My brother Travis Scott has to perform. Diddy’s hosting the show. I’m executive producing. He has to perform.’ And NBC said yes.”
Today, Billboard has published a conversation with Diddy about hosting the show, and Diddy goes on at length about how “cancel culture” — something that apparently applies to the vastly different cases of Morgan Wallen and Travis Scott — is a bad thing:
The mood of the show is about love and forgiveness. As a musical family, none of us are saints; none of us are without things that happen to them in life. So one of the things I’m doing directly is un-canceling the canceled. That’s breaking news because people haven’t been about uncanceling. But canceling is a trend that needs to stop.
Travis went through a tragedy; Morgan [used the N-word] while talking to his boy. People make mistakes. Now we’re moving on with love and respect for everybody that was hurt or affected. It’s time to forgive. To have Morgan and Travis be able to come back and touch the stage again with the mindset of getting a second chance at life. Everybody in the room is getting a second chance at life, you know, because we’re back outside with no masks on. We need love and I’m excited about celebrating that.
Celebrities: They’ll always stick up for each other! The Billboard Music Awards go down 5/15 on NBC, and the show will also feature performances from relatively uncontroversial figures like Megan Thee Stallion, Ed Sheeran, Mary J. Blige, Burna Boy, and Machine Gun Kelly.
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