This year, MTV wanted to help bring themes of progress and social justice to the forefront by showcasing them at the MTV Movie & TV Awards, which are annually viewed by millions across the country. This year's awards were the first in the show's 25-year history to remove gendered categories, and also featured two new categories honoring films that portray the "Best Fight Against the System" and "Best American Story."
The MTV Movie & TV Awards Show is viewed by millions of people and MTV knew that it had a unique opportunity to shift conversations around social issues. One way MTV was able to do this was by removing gendered categories, showing that not only should artists be valued similarly regardless of their gender but that gender is not binary.
MTV also transformed the "Best Fight" category into "Best Fight Against the System," showcasing its commitment to honoring progress and activism through TV and film. The nominees included Loving, Hidden Figures, Mr. Robot, Luke Cage, and Get Out --- all films about fighting a system of some kind whether it's racism, sexism, or economic injustice. MTV had Congresswoman Maxine Waters, a fierce advocate for justice, present this award alongside Tracee Ellis Ross.
MTV also created a category called "Best American Story" that honored TV shows and movies that showcase America at its most inclusive and diverse. The nominees for this category included Black-ish, Fresh Off The Boat, Moonlight, Transparent, and Jane the Virgin.
Many national publications, including the New York Times, Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and TIME covered the MTV Movie & TV Awards, and some news outlets lauded MTV for its progressive outlook. Rolling Stone, for example, wrote that the show is "the most 'woke' awards show out there," while Variety praised MTV "for having the audacity to shake up the cultural DNA, to show us what a new kind of post-gender consciousness feels like."
The show was viewed by 1.2 million people, and clips related to the Movie Awards were streamed across MTV's social media platforms 42 million times. Some viewers wrote online that they were pleased with MTV's commitment to social justice, including one Twitter user who wrote, "I can't get over the #MTVAwards making the acting categories gender-neutral. Instantly iconic," and another who wrote, "#Moonlight just won best kiss. Hell yeah! Something is changing in the world and it feels awesome."
Individual speeches also garnered praise from news outlets and social media. The New York Times, Washington Post, Teen Vogue, Variety, Vulture, and The Guardian wrote about Emma Watson's acceptance speech, and countless others covered speeches from Maxine Waters, Tracee Ellis Ross, Ashton Sanders, and Jharrel Jerome.
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