After 26 years of our favorite celebrities announcing the winners for best female and best male performance, the MTV Movie & TV awards decided it was time for a change. This year, they combined all the nominees and made the best performance award gender-neutral, so it could be given to a person regardless of the sex they identify as.
Emma Watson took home the golden popcorn last night for her role as Belle in “Beauty and the Beast.”
Watson was extremely thankful to have won, but she said she won because of the character she played, not because of her acting or singing abilities. During her acceptance speech, she explained:
“I think I’m being given this award because of who Belle is and what she represents. The villagers in our fairytale 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 agree that Belle is a character that teaches young women that there is more for them out there than society allows them to believe, but I think there is another reason why Watson won.
Emma Watson has made her mark as a feminist and advocate for gender equality. She has traveled to different countries around the world to promote education for young girls and the need to have more women involved in politics. She was made a UN Women Goodwill ambassador in the summer of 2014 to commemorate her work in women’s rights.
To put it simply, she is more than a typical actress. She embodies what the character Belle represents in her everyday life.
This gender-neutral award doesn’t suddenly fix gender inequality, but I think we can all agree that it is a step in the right direction. Gender barriers will not be torn down all at once, it will be a slow movement. It is moments like this, however, that give us hope. MTV deserves some praise for taking a step like this.
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