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Death of A Borough: How The VMAs Killed Brooklyn

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Aug 28, 2013 | 2:00pm EDT

MTV Video Music Awards,  BrooklynMichael Loccisano/Getty Images

The theaters in Times Square didn't always show musicals based on cartoons. And the East Village sheltered generations of artists before New York University swallowed it whole. For half a century New Yorkers have been pushing back against the slow-moving glacier of gentrification that has subsumed their city under a Theme Park doppelgänger.

Somehow, however, Brooklyn has been off limits. It's messier, more far-flung and waaaay too specific. But every city has its own private wars over real estate development, right? So the Barclays Center was inevitable. Perhaps, but the battle for the soul of New York is not simply about physical turf. It's about cultural imperialism.

Hey, wait. Half the talent being honored Sunday night was Brooklyn born and bred. What better place for the Video Music Awards? The artists, sure, but MTV was not, and it has been colonized by its sponsors for decades. The VMAs aren't about music. They're an infomercial for corporate synergy.

So thanks, I guess, for wanting us so badly. And okay, you can have Williamsburg for your movie parodies of hipster culture, and Bushwick, and maybe even Sunset Park. But enough. No more. Brooklyn isn't cultural sausage.

Taylor Swift in the wilds of Flatbush? Absolutely not.

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