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Doja Cat Serves Pupation, Available Seating, at VMAs

The invertebrate formerly known as Doja Cat. Photo: Jeff Kravitz/MTV VMAs 2021/Getty Images for MTV/ViacomCBS

Not since Sarah Jessica Parker’s iconic 2000 MTV Movie Awards gownsplosion has an awards-show host brought so much camp to the podium. Doja Cat went through a five-outfit metamorphosis at the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards, ending the night with bird feet and a bemused, “Wow, okay, bye.” We’re breaking down the looks, as well as trying to interpret their deeper symbology. Chair-hat, what does it mean? Doja Cat started the night comparatively normal, adorning a Vivienne Westwood corset with some purple draping and a CHONKY necklace. The hair was big, the thigh-highs were semi-transparent latex. It was Pebbles Flintstone, the heaux years, and it set the tone for the night.

Next up, Doja went goth. Ice-blond hair draped over navy arm-warmers and a black corset-pant ensemble. In the words of Krusty the Clown, the pants are supposed to be baggy. Baggy! In fact, the pants are so baggy, they could be a skirt. Even the normiest look of the night still breeds confusion and wonder.

To perform “You Right,” the night’s host donned a red look that was somewhere between Marvel Comics’ Elektra and Kate Bush in the “Running Up That Hill” music video. Pink is shaking, as another pop star has taken to the sky like Dumbo.

Doja Cat accepted her award for Best Collab award with SZA for “Kiss Me More” in a worm-like quilted number. “I never thought I’d be dressed as a worm while accepting an award,” she said. But when one of your breakout hits has the chorus “Bitch, I’m a cow,” can any animal really be that big of a surprise. Fans compared the ensemble not to a worm, but to a very special caterpillar in the Pixar canon.

Perhaps Doja Cat feared people would tell her to “have a seat” after receiving an award in such an extra look. So she wore one. Doja’s fourth look of the night was topped with a chair-hat, but don’t let that blind you to its more subtle delights. Yet another corset was swathed in what looked like a child’s horsie bedsheets. And is that a dagger I see before me? Yuh. The look was a variation on a fit from the spring 2019 Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood collection.

Doja’s last look made the worm seem reserved and chill. The night ended with bird feet and a bright-salmon Pilgrim’s hat.

So Doja dressed up as the worm and the early bird that eats the worm. Self-consumption like the ouroboros, the world-circling serpent of ancient Egypt. But the Pilgrim indicates America, its core values and founding mythology. The Freemasons incorporated Egyptian symbolism in the founding of America — the pyramid on the dollar bill. A red chair, a red aerialist outfit, unprecedented times, big goth pants … Putting all the clues together, Doja Cat is telling us the treasure must be in the Masonic Temple of Hollywood Forever Cemetery!

Doja Cat Serves Pupation, Available Seating, at VMAs