While I assume celebrities attending the Video Music Awards are given a Plus One option to bring along a friend, I'm pretty sure it's implicit in the rules that they should bring a human, not a pet. Nevertheless, celebrities wearing snakes at the 2019 VMAs was a full-blown trend, in that two stars donned serpents as scarves. Can you believe? While I can't imagine snakes are the most comfortable accessory — or the most humane, for that matter — YouTuber Tana Mongeau and musician H.E.R. certainly turned heads with their looks, which (Intentionally or not!) were both nods to Britney Spears's iconic 2001 VMAs performance.
Travel back in time with me to 2001, will you? Back in the good old days, everything was Britney Spears and nothing hurt. When it was announced that Spears would perform at the Video Music Awards, fans knew she'd bring the heat via incredible dance moves, rock hard abs, and an adorable outfit, but they never expected her to take the stage with an albino Burmese python coiled around her frame. It was iconic in the highest sense of the word, and I'd argue that it's the most widely-remembered VMAs performance of all time — no shade to Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke.
This is the kind of statement that can't be forgotten, people!
Spears's "Slave 4 U" performance has gone down in history as one of the greatest awards show moments of all time, and on the 2019 VMAs red carpet, it seems multiple celebs decided to pay her look homage.
First up was Tana Mongeau, YouTuber and star of MTV's digital series, Tana Turns 21:
Like Spears in 2001, Mongeau also clutched an albino Burmese python, and I swear I knew nothing about snakes before writing this article, but now I'm a borderline expert. At first glance, I didn't even notice the creature, as its light yellow skin matched Mongeau's extensions perfectly.
Then, it started to slither and stuck out its tongue:
I was sure Mongeau would have the only snake of the night, but then in strutted H.E.R. with a serpent of her own. Can. You. Believe?
Truly, what are the odds. H.E.R. didn't bring the same species snake as Mongeau and Spears, but instead, what I believe is a boa constrictor, according to my very minimal snake species research. You're welcome for this hard-hitting journalism.
H.E.R. did wear green, which is another subtle nod to Spears's 2001 ensemble:
Believe me, I'm all for an ode to Queen Britney, but many VMAs viewers took to Twitter to share how upset they were about their faves using live animals as accessories. One of the loudest voices expressing disapproval was that of PETA, aka People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who took the stars' outfits as an opportunity to educate fans on why handling snakes in this way is a huge nono:
"Snakes don't deserve to be put through the stress of confinement, bright lights, and loud noises just for clout," wrote PETA on Twitter:
"Animals aren’t jewelry or accessories–& dead or alive should not be worn on the red carpet," PETA's string of tweets continued, and you can read the entire thread here. "Snakes may not display stress & discomfort as obviously as other species do–they don’t whine or flinch the way a dog might–but constant handling leaves them prone to illness & injury," the organization explained.
Gotta hand it to them on this one — PETA makes a good point. Both Mongeau and H.E.R. would've looked incredible without the animals, and TBH, there are enough snakes in Hollywood already. Let's leave the real ones to thrive in their natural habitats and other safely-monitored spaces, shall we?