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Image / Editorial

Celebrity Activism And Speeches From The MTV Movie & TV Awards

by Holly O'Neill
08th May 2017

It feels like absolutely everything has been politically?charged since last year, right down to the winning speeches at award shows, which have become weighted with?racial, cultural, and political messaging and less “I’d like to thank my mother and my dog.”

When it comes to celebrity political activism, on the one hand, if you’re Taylor Swift and decide to not contribute to the conversation, you might be hailed as a Trump supporter or be held personally responsible for the election of Donald Trump. Similarly, if you’re Jimmy Fallon and get a presidential candidate as a guest on your show, you can be held personally responsible for the election of Donald Trump for giggling and not asking tougher questions. As a celebrity, your silence can be taken as support, but using your voice can bring you a backlash too – like if you’re Madonna and claim you want to blow up the White House.

Nobody is getting up at awards anymore and manically shouting “YOU LIKE ME!” like Sally Field. It just doesn’t cut it. You have to be careful to get it right too – if you’re Meryl Streep we will bow down but be careful you don’t look like you’re trying to cash in on a movement like Kendall Jenner X?Pepsi.

Do you want your celebrities to shut up and just do their jobs or do you want them to shout their liberal beliefs?

Personally, I like seeing celebrities use their platforms correctly and sensitively to highlight racial diversity to climate change, but understand that celebrity activism deflates a bit when the ceremony has purported the issues the winners are railing against. Like at the Oscars when everyone shouts about their feminism and rails against race issues in the industry and the Muslim ban at an award show for an industry where?women only directed 4% of the past decade’s one thousand highest-grossing films, a Muslim wins an Oscar for the first time ever, Casey Affleck, accused of sexual assault, ?wins Best Actor, the very white La La Land cast is mistakenly read out for Best Picture and nobody actually names Donald Trump in any of their speeches.

So it’s nothing but positive when MTV, a pioneer of young people, work towards progressive changes in their award shows, like ditching the divide of ?best actor? and ?best actress? ?and bringing in gender-neutral categories, and switching the category of ‘best fight’ to ‘best fight against the system’.

The stars applauded young people for their liberalism, inclusion and diversity, in his speech for winning Best Host, Trevor Noah thanked Donald Trump for the comedy and host Adam Devine joked that??Beauty and the Beast? should now be ?Multi-Dimensional Woman With Her Own Dynamic Traits and the Beast? and?Hugh Jackman’should be Hugh Jackperson.

Here are the speeches from the MTV Movie & TV Awards you should read.?

1. Emma Watson used her speech to applaud MTV’s new category structure,?and thank Asia Kate Dillon of Billions, the first openly non-binary performer?to play a non-binary character in a major TV show.

“I feel like I have to say something about the award itself, the first acting award in history that doesn’t separate nominees based on their sex says something about how we perceive the human experience. MTV’s move to create a genderless award for acting will mean something different to everyone. But to me, it indicates that acting is about the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and that doesn’t need to be separated into two different categories. Empathy and the ability to use your imagination should have no limits. This is very meaningful to me, both to be winning the award and to be receiving it from you, Asia. Thank you for educating me in such an inclusive, patient and loving way.

I think I’m being given this award because of who Belle is and what she represents. The villages in our fairy tale wanted to make Belle believe that the world was smaller than the way that she saw it, with fewer opportunities for her, that her curiosity and passion for knowledge and her desire for more in life were grounds for alienation. I loved playing someone who didn’t listen to any of that. I’m so proud to be a part of a film that celebrates diversity, literacy, inclusion, joy and love, the way that this one does.”

2.?Taraji P. Henson accepted the award for best fight against the system and spoke about the importance of Hidden Figures and young girls feeling included in maths and science.

“This movie was bigger than all of us. We understood that, we understood the task at hand. We understood that this is a part of history that needed to be re-implemented into the blood and the veins of?American history. For me, it was very important because I grew up with an understanding. No one ever told me girls couldn’t do math or science, but there was an understanding, right? There was an understanding it was for boys. So I remember getting this script and being very upset because I felt like a dream was stolen from me. So it became my mission, and everyone’s mission who was involved with this film, to dispel that myth, so that another young girl wouldn’t grow up thinking that her mind wasn’t capable of grasping math and science.

If it were not for these women, we wouldn’t be in space. And not only that, the message of the movie is togetherness. I hate the separatism, I hate that it’s man versus woman, black versus white, gay versus straight. Whatever, we’re all humans, right? God is very clever. God is very clever. He made us all different for a reason, so we better figure it out.”

3. The trophy for Best Kiss was awarded to?Ashton Sanders and Jharrel Jerome of Moonlight.

Jerome:?”It is okay for us young performers, especially us minority performers, to step out of the box and do whatever it takes to tell the story and do whatever it takes to make a change. So this award is for that, is for us artists who are out there who need to step out the box to do whatever it takes to get people to wake up.”

Sanders:?”This award is bigger than Jharrel and I. This represents more than a kiss. This is for those who feel like the others, the misfits. This represents us. So we love y?all and thank y?all.”

4.?Millie Bobby Brown?as the inaugural winner of the gender-neutral category for television.

?They’ve created a bad-ass, female, iconic character that I’ve got the honour to play.?

5. The Fast and The Furious franchise won a prize for ?global contribution to pop culture,? and Vin Diesel thanked voters for accepting the ‘multicultural franchise’.

“Most importantly, I gotta thank our generation. I gotta thank a generation that was willing to accept this multicultural franchise, where it didn’t matter what colour your skin was, or what country you were from. When you’re family, you’re family.”

6.?Bill Condon accepted the best movie trophy for Beauty and the Beast and highlighted the power of the female audience.?

“Thank you to the audience that embraced this movie so much, but especially to the women. Because women have proven that they are a huge and powerful audience and it’s going to change the movie business. So thank you very much.”

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