Byrne was honored for his work with Talking Heads. Godley and Creme are acclaimed music video directors. Mulcahy was honored as the director of The Buggles' "Video Killed The Radio Star," the first video played on MTV.
Madonna found immense popularity by pushing the boundaries of lyrical content in mainstream popular music and imagery in her music videos, which became a fixture on MTV. Her videos have depicted controversial subjects such as teen pregnancy, racism, religion, sex, and violence. And she received this Lifetime Achievement Video Vanguard Award in 1986 for her contributions to the world of music video.
Michael Jackson changed the music video from a mere promotional tool featuring musicians playing instruments and singing, to a piece of art with a storyline, or as Jackson liked to put as 'short films'. His video "Thriller" influenced and changed music videos into what it is like today.
Her music videos from the 1980s became a catalyst for MTVs developing demographics. Her Broadway-style choreography and militant iconography were well received by critics and audiences. She was acknowledged as a role model for youth (especially young women) for imbuing her performances with a socially conscious message.
Chuck D of Public Enemy delivered a glowing appraisal of the band before presenting them with the award. Upon receiving the award, Adam Yauch took the opportunity to speak his mind on some political issues, condemning military aggression.