Lady Gaga wins big at VMAs dedicated to Chadwick Boseman, shaped by COVID and focused on justice

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In addition to tributes for the Black Panther actor, racial justice was a major theme of the VMAs shaped by the coronavirus pandemic.
Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande perform during the 2020 MTV VMAs in this screen grab image made available on August 30, 2020. VIACOMCBS

New York — Lady Gaga cleaned house at the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards, while The Weeknd took home the top prize — and both pop stars sent important messages to viewers about the current state of the world: "Wear a mask" and "Justice for Jacob Blake and Breonna Taylor."

Gaga won five honors Sunday, most of them for her No. 1 hit with Ariana Grande, "Rain on Me," which the pop stars performed live for the first time.

The VMAs kicked off with a touching moment, as host Keke Palmer told viewers the show was dedicated to Chadwick Boseman, who died Friday at age 43 after privately battling colon cancer for four years.

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"We dedicate tonight's show to a man whose spirit touched so many. He's a true hero, not just on-screen," Palmer said. "His impact lives forever."

"Wear a mask. It's a sign of respect," Gaga said during one of her several appearances onstage as she accepted awards like artist of the year, song of the year and the MTV Tricon award.

With an electronic mask, Gaga performed a medley of her songs, including "Stupid Love," "Chromatica II" and "911." She and Grande were joined by a number of background dancers all wearing masks.

The Weeknd, the first performer of the night, paid tribute to Blake and Taylor — two Black people who were shot by police officers — after winning video of the year and best R&B for "Blinding Lights."

"It's really hard for me…
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