Miley Cyrus made headlines at last year's MTV Video Music Awards by twerking and rubbing up on Robin Thicke (and on teddy bears), but this year, when she won the Video of the Year Moonman for "Wrecking Ball," she kept it classy — and delivered a powerful social message, thanks to the special friend who accepted the award on her behalf.
Miley didn't even give a speech, instead sitting on the edge of the stage in tears (real tears, not "Wrecking Ball"-video crocodile tears) as a young blond man, who simply introduced himself as "Jesse," accepted the award from presenter Jimmy Fallon.
"Thank you all — my name is Jesse, and I am accepting this award on behalf of the 1.6 million homeless youth in the United States who are starving, lost, and scared for their lives right now," said the visibly trembling boy, shuffling index cards while Fallon held the microphone for him. "I know this because I am one of these people… Though I may have been invisible to you in the streets, I have the same dreams that have brought you here tonight.
"Los Angeles, entertainment capital, has the largest population of homeless youth in America. The music industry will make over $7 billion this year, and outside these doors are 54,000 human beings that have no place to call home."
Jesse then asked viewers to go to Miley's Facebook page to find out how they could donate to My Friend's Place, a homeless center in Hollywood that "provides homeless youth with opportunities to improve their psychological, intellectual, and physical capacity to reach their potential and build self-sufficient lives." Shortly after the awards ended, Miley announced a contest via Prizeo in which fans who donate $5 to My Friend's Place will be entered for a chance to meet the pop star at her concert in Brazil.
This was a rare serious moment from Miley (who implied during a red carpet interview earlier in the evening that her twerking days are now behind her). But it was also a rare somber moment in a telecast that also included a tribute to Ferguson by rapper Common and a short in memoriam montage in honor of Robin Williams, but was otherwise the usual garish, irreverent VMAs affair.