There’s a lot to look forward to at MTV’s 2013 Video Music Awards Sunday. The much-discussed possibility of an ‘N Sync reunion. Miley Cyrus twerking. And, of course, Kanye West will be there, as will Taylor Swift. It’s been five years since the ceremony where he stormed the stage to interrupt during Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech. Swift had just won the Best Female Video award for “You Belong With Me.” West thought Beyoncé’s video for “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” deserved the prize. And he said so: “Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you, Imma let you finish but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time…one of the best videos of all time!”
Since then, West and Swift haven’t really been able to put the moment behind them.
In an interview with Kris Jenner, mother of his girlfriend Kim Kardashian, that aired today, West was mostly there to show off a photo of North West, his daughter with Kardashian, and chat—somewhat uncomfortably—about living in Jenner’s house. But the conversation rolled back around to Swift, when he said: “Even at my lowest points, the last thing I would want to happen to my daughter is some crazy drunk black guy in a leather shirt to come up and cut her off at an award show.”
So, as Swift and West prepare to possibly meet again, we ask: Who really had the last word?
First, a little background on West’s past experiences with awards shows. Prior to the Taylor Swift debacle, he frequently felt that he was snubbed at awards shows early in his career, and in 2005, West preemptively told MTV News that he “would have a problem” if “Late Registration” did not win Album of the Year at 2005 Grammy Awards.
He was able to laugh at himself, though, appearing in a “Saturday Night Live” skit which showed him interrupting acceptance speeches for a Kids’ Choice Award, the Noble Prize in Physics and a pumpkin growing contest, demanding that his “work” in those fields be recognized.
Then came the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Shortly after Taylor Swift began to thank everybody, ever, for the Best Female Video award, West hopped onstage in protest, telling the world that the award was rightfully Beyoncé’s because Beyoncé “had the best video of all time.” West was asked to leave the ceremony.
Beyoncé, no stranger to attending awards ceremonies at a young age, asked Taylor Swift to take the stage when she won the Video of the Year Award to make up for the moment West had taken away from Swift in Beyoncé’s name.
That’s when West’s apology tour began.
With the 2009 VMAs still underway West took to his now-defunct blog to post an apology, in all caps. He acknowledged that he was wrong for stealing her moment, and said he’d spoken to Swift’s mother moments after he got off stage. He did, however, stand by his belief that “Beyoncé’s video was the best of this decade.”
The next day, he removed the first post, and issued a calmer apology (read: less caps), in which he wrote that he felt “like Ben Stiller in ‘Meet the Parents’ when he messed up everything and Robert De Niro asked him to leave.”
He apologized publicly on Jay Leno, saying it was rude, he knew it hurt Swift’s feelings, and he wanted to apologize to her, in person. When Leno asked him what his late mother would have said about the spectacle, West began to cry.
Taylor Swift discussed West’s interruption on “The View,” saying she knew she could not let the situation rattle her. She also said that West had not yet called her directly to apologize.
According to reps from “The View,” West called Swift to apologize after seeing her appearance on the talk show.
In September 2010, he apologized yet again, this time on Twitter. He wrote, “When I woke up from the crazy nightmare I looked in the mirror and said GROW UP KANYE…I take responsibility for my actions.” He also tweeted that he’d written a song for Swift, and would perform it himself if she would not take it.
Known for drawing inspiration from her personal life for her song lyrics, Swift wrote a song called “Innocent” about the VMA interruption for her “Speak Now” album. In the song, she told West, “You’re still an innocent.”
West dropped out of the entertainment scene for a while, spending time in Japan, Rome and Hawaii to focus on music and get away from the paparazzi. He spoke about it on “The Ellen Show” in October 2010.
When Jay Z and West stepped on stage to accept the award for Best Video at the 2012 BET Awards, Jay Z jokingly interrupted West during his speech. West jokes back, “I was trying to defend your girl.” There are laughs throughout the room.
According to an article in April 2013 Vanity Fair, Swift keeps a framed photo of the exact moment that West interrupted her at the 2009 VMAs.
And in a June 2013 interview with the New York Times to promote his most recent release, “Yeezus,” West seems to retract his apologies, claiming that he succumbed to peer pressure in the past.
After receiving two VMA nominations for the 2013 VMAs, Swift joked about the 2009 ceremony on Twitter, promising her followers that she would “keep a firmer grip on the mic this time.”
Ed Sheeran, who has been touring with Swift, posted a photo of a jar of homemade jam Swift sent him on Instagram. On the label she wrote, “Yo Ed-I’m really happy 4 you and I’m gonna let u finish but this is the best JAM OF ALL TIME. – T.”
One 30-second moment of rudeness spawned into five years of jokes, apologizes, memes, riffs and rants. What will happen this year?
This post has been updated to correct an error.