2017 VMAs To Debut New Social Awareness Category: “Best Fight Against The System”

In 2017, the #resistance well and truly will be televised! Be prepared to watch a very different MTV VMAs on August 27, because this year’s event is making a few changes to its categories in an awesome way. Given that we are in the middle of some turbulent political times, it makes total sense that they have added a new category called ‘Best Fight Against The System’, awarding music videos that “inspire viewers to stand up and fight injustice”.

The VMAs already has a ‘Best Video with a Social Message’, but the new category adds to this social awareness in a big way. As Vox’s Abbey White points out, the Social Message category previously featured artists such as Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Macklemore, but their videos were more about emotionally-driven and individual messages (Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’, Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’ and Macklemore’s ‘Same Love’).

The artists and videos nominated for ‘Best Fight Against The System’ focus on distinctly social and political topics such as immigration, race, social justice, and female empowerment.

“The addition of the ‘Best Fight Against the System’ category was added to the 2017 MTV VMAs to continue reflecting the audience’s passion and activism around social justice issues such as environmental justice, immigration, LGBTQ equality, and racial justice,” an MTV spokesperson told Vox.

John Legend’s video ‘Surefire’ tells the story about a Muslim woman and her Latino boyfriend battling cultural barriers from their respective families while trying to maintain their relationship. Big Sean’s ‘Light’ focuses on the black youth of America and shows the discrimination they face. Logic’s’ Black Spiderman’ is a commentary on many of the viral conversations that have happened about the race of figures such as Santa Claus, Jesus, and the aforementioned superhero.

Black Eyed Peas’ Taboo, who is of Native American ancestry, uses his voice to fight against the system in his video ‘Stand Up / Stand N Rock #NoDAPL’, visualizing the struggle between the North Dakota Sioux Standing Rock tribe and government forces trying to build an oil pipeline that could potentially contaminate the natural water supply of the nearby community.

Alessia Cara’s ‘Scars To Your Beautiful’, arguably the most well-known song nominated in the category, is all about female empowerment and positive body image. And rounding out the category is The Hamilton Mixtape’s ‘Immigrants (We Get The Job Done’) featuring a slew of artists of color, some even rapping in their native language, talking about how immigration and diversity has made America the great country it is today.

This new category addition is the latest in MTV’s major televised awards show change. Earlier this year, the Movie and TV Awards also featured ‘Best Fight Against The System’ for the first time. For the Movie Awards, last year’s ‘Hidden Figures’ took home the prize, presented by system-fighter herself California Representative Maxine Waters.

Aside from the increased social awareness aspect of the show, MTV has chosen to eliminate a couple of gender barriers. There will no longer be a separate ‘Best Female’ and ‘Best Female Video’ category. Instead, they will be combined into a general ‘Artist of the Year’ selection, which includes nominees Kendrick Lamar, the Weeknd, Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande and Lorde.

This change also follows similar categories at the Movie and TV Awards shows which were combined to crown one winner, without segregating them based on gender.

“Great acting is great acting, no matter what the gender or non-gender. And it really is reflective about the audience’s views and when you look at the culture as a whole, you had a man against a woman running for president [last year]. It just felt like a dated construct for a category,” MTV general manager Amy Doyle told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this year, according to the Guardian.

For an awards show that has been known throughout the years for its on-stage controversies (the Britney-Madonna-Christina kiss, the infamous Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke performance) it’s awesome to see social awareness and gender equality becoming an integral part of the MTV message. When you think about the younger generation who are the target audience, seeing their favorite artists speak truth to power, use their platforms to advance important causes, and advocate for the voiceless, is incredibly powerful.

Kendrick Lamar is the most nominated artist of the night in 8 categories total, with Katy Perry and the Weeknd close behind with 5 nominations each.




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