Editor's Note: Martin Tsai, esteemed film critic, only claims to dislike Britney Spears and *NSYNC. But we know his deep, dark secrets. We know about all the posters and photo collages he keeps in his room. We even know what he did last summer.\nWe are constantly being bombarded by popularity contests, both in real life and in the world of media. From award shows to beauty pageants to presidential elections, popularity seems to always outweigh substance for decision-makers in this country. The purpose behind these awards and contests becomes questionable, because the most deserving ones always lose to those who are mediocre enough to be liked by everybody. \nMTV's annual Video Music Awards, which airs 7 p.m. Thursday, is yet another one of these pointless popularity contests. There are a number of visionary music videos produced each year, but very few of them will receive they well-deserved airplay or accolades. \nInstead, we have pranksters like Blink 182 and Eminem. The bon-bon-shaking Ricky Martin and Sisqo are also up for several VMAs. Britney Spears and *NSYNC ' oops, they are nominated again. Destiny's Child's "Say My Name" ' nice color scheme, what else? \nThe awards are not honoring either the best videos or the best musical achievements, so why are they called the Video Music Awards? Are the VMAs basically the same as Teen Choice Awards?\nBlur's "Coffee & TV," which tells a bittersweet journey of a milk carton attempting to locate the missing boy who is pictured on the box, is by far one of the most innovative videos last year. Chemical Brothers' "Let Forever Be," which literally transforms a day in a young woman's life into a colorful kaleidoscope, is also mesmerizing. Brian McKnight's "Back at One" clip tells a powerful love story that will wrench your heart in merely five minutes. Unfortunately, these clips are only up for one award each. \nThe most upsetting omission this year is newcomer Kelis' "Caught Out There," an ingenious clip in which the young singer seeks revenge on her shady boyfriend, sends him to the emergency room before leading countless angry women for an anti-cheater protest. Without special effects and all that glitter, director Hype Williams still manages to captivate the viewers with powerful storytelling.\nThe new 'alliance'\n'Alliance' has become such a dirty word after Richard Hatch uttered it every time he is scheming and plotting on "Survivor." Just when the public is relieved that the evil alliance finally broke up as "Survivor" comes to an end, a new alliance seems to be on the rise. Teresa Boswell, the wife of "Big Brother" house guest George, has allegedly launched a voting block with the folks of Rockford, Ill. \nThis voting block successfully ousted the multiple hair-colored Brittany Petros, the most popular house guest in the "Big Brother" compound. \nAlthough at times Britney can be annoying and childish, she handled the banishment with tremendous grace. Brittany's mother, on the other hand, cried foul in a face-off with Teresa on CBS' "Early Morning Show." The aftermath of Brittany's banishment is as doomed and unsettling as the "Survivor" alliance getting America's sweetheart Colleen Haskell off the island. How can America let the gay-bashing, immigrant-hating "Chicken Man" remain on television? One Eminem is not enough for you?\n'Oz' finishes season with a bang\nAlthough it is not garnering nearly as much buzz as "The Sopranos," HBO's "Oz" is still one of the best programs that television has to offer. The disturbing and brutal prison drama, which just successfully finished its fourth season, never compromises its integrity to please the crowd. Although the brutality is hard to stomach, "Oz" is by far the most amazing and powerful program that is made for television. Through the eyes of a paralyzed inmate, all of the love, hate, fears, insecurities and violence within the Em City prison are all exposed right in front of our eyes. This is a show that's really keeping it real, and it addresses many of the truly urgent issues with our criminal justice system that no other show dares to touch on.\n'Dancer' trailer in theaters\nThe trailer of "Dancer in the Dark," one of the most buzz-worthy films of the season, is currently playing with the film "Saving Grace." "Dancer," which won "Best Picture" and "Best Actress" at this year's Cannes Film Festival, is the new film by Danish auteur Lars von Trier of "Dogme 95" fame. A musical starring Bjork and Catherine Deneuve, "Dancer" completes a trilogy that also consists of the award-winning "Breaking the Waves" and the controversial "The Idiots." Those who appreciate the genius of von Trier won't want to miss this rare opportunity to get a sneak peek of this acclaimed new film. God knows when the Kerasotes chain will actually show this movie in Bloomington. \nThe film will have its North American premiere when it opens for New York Film Festival Sept. 22.