"There were some strangely mixed messages in the opening minutes of the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards," says Variety's Chris Willman. "Taylor Swift kicked things off with all the rainbow flamboyance she and a troupe of drag queens could muster for her tolerance-and-pride anthem 'You Need to Calm Down.' This was immediately succeeded by host Sebastian Maniscalco, inspirer of about a hundred million Google searches, doing a monologue about the silliness of millennials and their newfangled scooters, influencers, safe spaces, triggers, support animals and general wokeness. There could, conceivably, be some good jokes to be had in an opening routine that reactionary, but they sure weren’t within half a continent of New Jersey Monday night." Willman says the hiring of the 46-year-old Maniscalco -- with his "get off his lawn"-style rant against young people -- seemed like a weird choice. "It feels like kicking a dead horse (sorry, Lil Nas X, if that was yours) to reiterate just how inexplicable a hosting choice this was," says Willman. "He came off as Andrew 'Dice' Clay’s nicer nephew who’d found a gig on the G-rated comedy circuit, and who thus was restrained from topical commentary because there were jokes to be made about his mother’s zucchini cooking as the source of all that smoke on stage, or how, because of all the celebrity feuds, 'coming up with the seating chart tonight was harder than arranging the table for my Uncle Luigi’s fifth wedding.' Ba-da-dum! It was all harmless and toothless enough, except when he was warning the snowflakes in the audience that 'personally, I would remove you from the arena, put you in your car and send you home, but they went with the safe space.' Ba-da-dud."