Recording artist/actor Common speaks onstage during the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards. (Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

Between all the madness that generally takes place at the MTV Video Music Awards, the show tried to get serious this year.

First, hip-hop artist Common called for a moment of silence as a tribute to the horrors in Ferguson, Mo., in the aftermath of unarmed teenager Mike Brown being shot and killed by police. Before presenting the award for Best Hip Hop Video to Drake, Common delivered this speech:

For the past two weeks, the eyes of the nation have been on Ferguson, Missouri. The people in Ferguson and St. Louis and communities across the country have used their voices to call for justice and change. To let everyone know that each and every one of our lives matters. Hip hop has always been about truth and has been a powerful instrument of social change from Melle Mel to Public Enemy to Kendrick Lamar. Hip hop has always presented a voice for the revolution. I want us all to take a moment of silence for Mike Brown and for peace in this country and in the world.

Then, later in the evening, Miley Cyrus won the Video of the Year award for “Wrecking Ball” — technically the biggest prize of the night. Instead of getting up on stage, she sent a homeless youth named Jesse to accept on her behalf. Presenter Jimmy Fallon wound up helping Jesse, whose hands were shaking so badly he could barely hold his written speech, as Cyrus could seen with tears streaming down her face in the audience.

My Friend’s Place representative Jesse, left, accepts Video of the Year (on behalf of Miley Cyrus) for “Wrecking Ball.” (Mark Davis/Getty Images)

Here were his remarks:

Thank you all. My name is Jesse. I am accepting this award on behalf of the 1.6 million runaways and homeless youth in the U.S. who are starving, lost and scared for their lives right now. I know this because I’m one of these people. I’ve survived in shelters all over this city, I’ve cleaned your hotel rooms, I’ve been an extra in your movies, I’ve been an extra in your life. Though I may have been invisible to you on the streets, I have a lot of the same dreams that brought many of 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 who have no physical home. If you want to make a powerful change in the world right now, please join us and go to Miley’s Facebook page. A dream you dream alone is only a dream — but a dream we dream together is reality. Thank you so much for your time.

The network also created this PSA:

Not everyone was so impressed by the segments: Making the rounds on Twitter were screengrabs of the Kardashian/Jenner sisters looking very uninterested during Common’s introduction, as Kylie played with her phone, Kendall looked bored, and Kim adjusted her outfit.


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