The one-two punch of Britney Spears‘ lackluster opening performance (her first major onstage appearance in years) and comedian Sarah Silverman‘s tense, borderline offensive opening monologue got the evening off to a particularly bumpy night. Luckily for the audience, Chris Brown‘s electric song-and-dance duet with Rihanna was able to put some energy back into the night.

"People were stunned during Britney’s performance," one member of the audience tells OK!. "Like they were waiting for a moment to happen that never came. Many more people were out of their seats when Chris Brown took the stage."

Alas, the energy injected by Chris and Rihanna wasn’t able to sustain the rest of the evening. From Justin’s awkward stabs at MTV’s obsession with reality shows ("Play more videos!" he exhorted) and his backhanded jab at the girls from The Hills (FYI, during their little speech, an audience member audibly yelled "Spencer sucks!") to the wholesale promotion of The Palms (did you hear? They have big suites!) to the new film The Kingdom (which, in case you couldn’t tell from the countless mentions, comes out soon and stars Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Garner) to the bizarre inclusion of Miss Teen South Carolina, the night never really seemed to get a grip on what it was supposed to be. "It was the most disjointed awards show I’ve ever seen," one audience member confesses to OK!.

Another point of annoyance for many viewers was the lack of video-related awards given out during the evening. In fact, there was only one award given out for a specific video (Video of the Year to Rihanna for "Umbrella"), but several doled out for oddball categories like Most Earth-Shattering Collaboration and Monster Single of the Year.

"What happened to Best Rock Video? Or Best R&B Video?" asked one attendee at the ceremony. "I don’t really understand what we were awarding tonight. What the heck is a Quadruple Threat and why does that deserve a VMA?"

Good question.

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