September 7, 2000

On this day in 2000, Rage Against the Machine’s bassist Tim Commerford caused a scene at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, the musician climbed up a fake palm tree prop that was onstage and refused to come down after the group Limp Bizkit won Best Rock Video. He ended up getting arrested and spending the night in jail.


In 2015, Commerford had this to say about the incident: “For me, [the protest] was real and it was for something important. It wasn’t for twerking or doing something stupid. It may have seemed stupid at the time.” Commerford says he was a huge fan of what film maker Michael Moore did with “Sleep Now in the Fire” and “Testify,” adding, “I think they are the greatest rock videos ever made and they’ve inspired me to this day, with what I’m doing today.” The bassist said he felt they had the win all wrapped up, but that he started noticing that MTV would focus the cameras on the winners before they were actually announced.

“We were up against Limp Bizkit, one of the dumbest bands in the history of music,” explained Commerford. “We’re up against them and their singer made the video. So it was Limp Bizkit vs. Rage, Fred Durst-directed video vs. Michael Moore. And I’m sitting there with Michael and I’m like, ‘Hey man, if that camera doesn’t come over here, I’m climbing up that structure and I’m gonna sit there like a fucking gargoyle and throw a wrench in this show.’ And he’s like, ‘Tim, follow your heart.’”


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