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Emma Watson celebrates empathy
Accepting the golden popcorn for Best Actor in a Movie — an award which was gender-neutral for the first time this year — noted feminist and newly minted Disney princess Emma Watson used her moment in the spotlight to celebrate MTV’s move toward inclusion. “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,” the star said, adding that it was “very meaningful” in particular to accept the award from Asia Kate Dillon, the non-binary identifying actor who presented it to her. Finally, she honored Beauty and the Beast by saying, “I’m so proud to be a part of film that celebrates diversity, literacy, inclusion, joy, and love the way that this one does.”
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Millie Bobby Brown makes a sartorial statement
When Stranger Things breakout star Millie Bobby Brown won Best Actor in a Series, her emotional speech was dedicated to her castmates, director, and the show’s creators (whom she thanked for creating a “badass female iconic character that I’ve got the honor to play”). But she added a subtle political statement by accessorizing her white sequined shift dress with a blue ribbon, representing her support of the ACLU, and a blue ampersand pin, which signifies solidarity with GLAAD.
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Moonlight wins Best Kiss
MTV’s signature Best Kiss award went to Moonlight, and though the Oscar-winning film’s young stars, Ashton Sanders and Jharrel Jerome, didn’t pull a Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams and recreate the moment for which they won, they made their win memorable by using their acceptance speech to make a powerful statement about inclusion and representation. “I think it’s safe to say that it is okay for young performers, especially us minority performers, to step out of the box,” Jerome said. “This award is for that. It’s for artists who need to step out of the box and do whatever it takes to tell a story and whatever it takes to make a change, to get people to wake up.” Sanders added: “This award represents more than a kiss. This is for those who feel like the others, the misfits.”
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Taraji P. Henson fights against the system
MTV’s inaugural Fight Against the System Award went to the inspiring historical drama (and box-office smash) Hidden Figures, about the black female NASA mathematicians whose work made it possible for the United States to send men into space. Taraji P. Henson took the stage to accept the award — which was presented to her by Congresswoman Maxine Waters — and delivered a fiery speech about empowering girls in STEM fields. “I grew up with an understanding — no one ever told me that girls couldn’t do math and science, but there was an understanding. There was an understanding that it was for boys,” she said. “It became my mission, and everyone’s mission who was involved with this film, to dispel that myth, so that another young girl would not 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.” She concluded with a plea for acceptance: “God is very clever. He made us all different for a reason, so we better figure it out.”
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Trevor Noah says 'merci'
Accepting the award for Best Host, The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah thanked Donald Trump “for the comedy” and, on a more serious note, thanked France for “making the right decision” in its presidential election, which had been called in favor of independent centrist Emmanuel Macron over far-right candidate Marine Le Pen earlier in the day.