The 2017 VMAs has scrapped gender-specific award categories and some are concerned that it could change the competition in a drastic way. In a new interview with MTV president Chris McCarthy said the iconic “Moonman” is out, and the “Moon Person” is in. All male and female artists will therefore be competing in the same categories.
Abolishing gender-specific categories seems to be MTV’s effort to show greater respect for women in the industry. “Why should it be a man?” McCarthy told the New York Times. “It could be a man, it could be a woman, it could be transgender, it could be nonconformist.”
MTV first eliminated the gender-specific categories at the MTV Movie & TV Awards. Best Actor in a Show and Best Actor in a Movie categories included both male and female nominees, with Stranger Things‘ Millie Bobby Brown and Beauty and the Beast‘s Emma Watson winning the awards. Watson had this to say in her acceptance speech:
“The first acting award in history that doesn’t separate nominees based on their sex says something about how we perceive the human experience. Acting is about the ability to put yourself into someone else’s shoes – and that doesn’t have to be separated into two different categories.”
Should it really matter if male and female artists are competing directly against one another? E! discussed the topic at length and had mixed feelings about the decision. Melanie Bromley noted that: “It’s not like in the Olympics where there are different physical [differences].”
They also questioned MTV’s intentions when it came to making the decision. Asking whether the decision was made to shorten the length of the show or whether it was made based on female and male equality. CNN pointed out that genderless awards are not the answer to gender parity in the entertainment industry. Although it is a nice motion, it’s pretending that patriarchy and male privilege doesn’t exist anymore.
Everyone should be on the same playing-field but then you are creating a different kind of competition. In all honesty, it’s just about the music. That is the real focus of the evening – coming together and celebrating the gift of music. This doesn’t mean that gender inequality across the globe has instantly been dealt with BUT MTV’s efforts should not me dismissed. It’s a tiny step but it is a step nonetheless.