Culture Clips: Emma Watson, Post-Gender Awards Darling

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MTV has savvily generated awards-show headlines for nearly 35 years now. This year was no different at network’s annual movie (and this year for the first time, TV) awards. What was different was the reason the broadcast made news: it’s elimination of separate gender categories for awards.

Actress Emma Watson (Beauty and the Beast, Harry Potter, The Circle) said of winning the inaugural genderless Best Actor in a Movie award, “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.”

Watson received the award from Orange Is the New Black star Asia Kate Dillon, whom USA Today reports “identifies as gender non-binary.” Watson said to her presenter, “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. Thank you so much.”

Elsewhere in the awards show, Ashton Sanders and Jharrel Jerome received the Best Kiss award for their gay kiss in Moonlight. Sanders responded, “This award is bigger than Jharrel and I. This represents more than a kiss, it represents those who feel like the others, the misfits—this represents us.”

Several other stories revolving around the elimination or minimization of gender differences emerged this week as well. Oregon is on the verge of becoming the first state to allow its residents to choose “nonbinary” instead of male or female on their drivers licenses. Next up, FaceApp is a new smartphone app that applies selfie filters to make users look older, younger … or like the other gender. Mizz Cracker, a self-described “drag queen,” writes in Slate, “The gender-bending option is one of the most popular among the gay male users in my social media sphere. And to be honest, it’s the filter that has me staring at my iPhone while no one’s looking.” And even though Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is generating box office gold and mostly positive reviews, some are frustrated that Marvel hasn’t clearly included an LGBT character in this franchise, despite hints from director James Gunn that there might be one.

In other entertainment news, some old favorites are preparing for their final bow while others are getting ready for a sequel. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will stage its final show on May 21 in Uniondale, New York. The company has announced it will stream the performance on Facebook Live—perhaps an ironic end for a cultural institution that predates the light bulb.

Something similar may be going on with SeaWorld. As the waterpark tries to downplay its famous killer whale shows in the face of increasing cultural pressure regarding the animals’ captivity, USA Today reports attendance at the parks has dropped significantly, about 15%, in the last year. Animal rights activists see that news as a victory, with PETA executive vice president Tracy Reiman saying in a statement, “As Ringling Bros. circus prepares to shut down this month because of its failure to evolve, SeaWorld could save itself by not fighting a losing battle against the sea change of public opinion and set a plan immediately to move these long-suffering animals to seaside sanctuaries.”

American Idol will be coming out of mothballs next season, this time on ABC instead of its longtime home on Fox. ABC reportedly outbid Fox and NBC for the series’ return. Disney Media Networks co-chairman Ben Sherwood told Entertainment Weekly, “Idol is an entertainment icon, and now it will air where it belongs, in ABC’s lineup of addictive fan favorites alongside Dancing with the Stars and The Bachelor. America, get ready for the return of a bigger, bolder and better-than-ever Idol.”

Controversy may have sunk whales and elephants as entertainment, but it hasn’t taken out Netflix’s much-talked-about teen-suicide series 13 Reasons Why. Netflix has announced the show will return for a second season, even as new research from 2008 to 2015 indicates suicidality and self-harm have doubled during that period of time. “Anecdotally, my colleagues and I had noticed over the last several years that an increasing number of our hospital beds were being occupied by children and teenagers with suicidal ideation and thoughts or had actually attempted suicide,” said researcher Dr. Gregory Plemmons of Monroe Carrell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University. Plemmons’ ensuing research was recently presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting.

Finally this week, some correlations for you to consider. Babies and screens are a bad combination. So are drugs and driving. As well as Facebook and your mental health.

On a brighter note, though, fans still can’t get enough of Tim Tebow, who’s now the nation’s most famous minor league baseball player.

Who wrote this?

Adam R. Holz is a senior associate editor for Plugged In. He also writes for Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine and has been a Boundless contributor. In his free time (which there is sometimes precious little of) Adam enjoys playing guitar and constructing LEGO kits with his son. Adam and his wife, Jennifer, are the proud parents, in fact, of three children, one boy and two girls.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

charitysplace 8 months ago
Wanna take bets on 13 Reasons Why including a school shooting next season? That was the set-up at the very end. Then the world will have another reason to hate it. ;)

So, does this mean HALF the actors get HALF the awards, since there's only ONE award to hand out (Best Actor)? Oh, that will go over really big.
Inkfeather1 . 8 months ago
I don't know why 13 Reasons Why is getting so much hate. That study showing suicide rates increasing is from a time period when this TV show wasn't even airing! How can it be responsible? Clearly something else is driving the suicide rate up, and we should be trying to find out what rather than attacking the most convenient target. It's never going to get better if we keep closing our eyes and wishing it didn't exist. If a TV show can get people talking about this with their kids, then the TV show did something right.
Julienne Dy 8 months ago
I don't see anything wrong with genderless awards.  I mean, gender shouldn't define talent especially in a skill like acting.  A gender-bending selfie filter is a little more questionable, but I'm not really surprised.  I mean, people gender-bend fictional characters all the time.  Then again, fictional characters aren't real whereas people taking selfies are.

On a different note, they give out awards for Best Kiss?  That's an actual thing?  Really?  Actors are actually being judged for their ability to make lip contact with another human being?  I mean, I know kisses are meaningful expressions of emotion and affection, and in fiction, they're actually plot-relevant sometimes, but are they really worth that much scrutiny?
Inkfeather1 . 8 months ago
The problem I see with the gender-bending filter is that it will lead to more online deception. It can be a fun thing to play with friends, but it will also be used by men and women to trick people into thinking they are the opposite gender. Idk, just continue to be careful who you talk to online I guess?
Julienne Dy 8 months ago
Oh, yeah.  I guess there's that.  I don't really share a lot of pictures online, so I guess I just wrongly assumed that other people didn't either.  Oops.