Every year I start this writeup by mentioning the season and that the MTV Movie & TV Awards start the summer awards season, so why not lean into it 1? It’s summer now! It’s time to do some summer shit, and that includes the MTV Movie and TV Awards!
Both MTV Awards shows are amiably silly, with the Movie & TV Awards taking a slight edge because they keep changing the categories around to include the sort of ephemera that’s plenty of fun to consider – what is the most Meme-able Moment? 2 – and the deathless, eldritch Best Kiss category, which I still hate beyond all reason.
So let’s forge on through the morass and figure out who deserves this goofy made-up awards. There’s probably a lifetime achievement award – there almost always is – but as of the time of this typing, I don’t know who it is. I do know that the host is going to be ol’ Shazam himself, and that Lizzo is going to be performing, and those are pretty cool things.
Best Meme-able Moment
So! Meme-able! That’s fun! I realize I said this above, but I actually don’t care. I think that there should be an award for creating a sort of useful visual punchline/memorable image that people pass around to mean something. I think that’s great, in general, because it’s entertaining and it requires much less of an investment of my time or energy to laugh at it. So why not give the good ones an award? I’m not sure to what extent most of these are “the good ones,” but hey, whatever. Full marks for effort here.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: I would watch Coulton Underwood jump over that fence all friggin’ day, man, and I don’t even like The Bachelor one teensy little bit.
Best Real Life Hero
So there’s plenty of good stuff here, but I never really found an angle to talk about Nanette when it took over the internet a year ago, so I’m going to use this opportunity to point out what I think my favorite thing about Nanette was – it was presented so starkly and in such a realized, matter-of-fact, air-tight way that I found it nearly impossible not to freight it with things that were, in fact, not said. It was a presentation of a perspective that is not mine, and because it was discomforting (purposefully), I still reacted badly to it, and had, to that point, thought that I was the sort of person that would not react badly to it (I no longer do so, but I did, and that’s worth examining). As such it was about as effective as I can imagine that sort of thing doing, and the fact that she did it so presentationally and stood so firmly behind it means that it’s among the finest things a human being managed in recent history, and therefore made the world unquestionably better than it was before she did it.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Hannah Gadsby, Nanette
Best Breakthrough Performance
None of these people make me as happy when they turn up in something as Awkwafina. I feel like she’s been around longer than all this seems to imply, but I’d be happy to give her whatever award for whatever thing, you know?
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Awkwafina
Last year I made a joke about my own body hosting a bunch of beneficial parasites and bacteria and whatnot, and I feel like I’m in that space again here, because I don’t think any of these people are particularly good hosts, although I guess Nick Cannon gave me an opportunity to play a weekly game of “what’s going to be happening on top of Nick Cannon’s head,” so he gets the nod. Although he’s robbing Fergie, who wasn’t even nominated for The Four.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Nick Cannon, I guess
I’m unsure why the specific fight here is Josh Brolin vs. Chris Evans when the best fight – because I was ten years old once and keep in fairly close contact with my inner ten years old – was EVERY GODDAMN SUPERHERO VS THE FACELESS THANOS HORDES but the Chris Evans vs. Josh Brolin fight includes Steve Rogers wielding Mjolnir and also not quitting when Thanos cuts his shield in half, and is therefore the best Captain America fight ever committed to film, and therefore deserves more awards than we technically have without inventing more. I’m saying we should invent some more awards to give this fight. That’s what I’m saying.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Chris Evans vs. Josh Brolin, Avengers: Endgame
I appreciate that the folks at MTV, and indeed the culture at large, want to celebrate Ruth Bader Ginsberg. I’m not here to argue that she’s not great, and that I don’t love her as much as anyone else. I think that RBG’s preaching to the converted is as fine and necessary as all preaching to the converted 3, but I think that Surviving R. Kelly finally managed to get people to turn around on R. Kelly, and is therefore more useful and therefore, better as a documentary experience.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Surviving R. Kelly
Best Reality Royalty
I hate to be that guy here 4, but I hope all of these people – every single damn last one of them – falls into a hole in the ground.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: The giant hole that would open up under each and every single one of these people in a just world.
Most Frightened Performance
Also a thing that should be awarded: being frightened. This is a skill that has only gotten harder as movies have become less practical 5, and thus give the actors less to work with in terms of reacting to them. That said, as much as I love Linda Cardellini in general, I’m done with Conjuring spin-offs, so this one goes Alex Wolff for Hereditary
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Alex Wolff, Hereditary
I hate this category for a bunch of reasons! It gets weirder as the context around it changes, and I guess I’m into weird categories, so maybe someday the balance will tip, but as it is it’s a weird, over-horny, prurient category. I’m not opposed to things that happen pruriently – hell, the entire existence of MTV is based around various things in various idioms happening pruriently – but I still think it’s a weird thing to award. It seems a bit like saying “oh this isn’t prurient, it’s progressive” which is pretty clearly (at the least) disingenuous and obfuscatory. I’d probably find a category called “hottest hot stuff” more honorably, to be honest, because at least it would be correctly stating its existence. That said, my opinion of it appears to be softening as this year I find myself able to type about it without a thin scrim of blood filling my vision. Progress!
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Still, there is no “rightful” winner of this stupid, performative, “Who me?”, hiding-in-plain sight category.
I’m deeply unfamiliar with some of this, but I think Lupita Nyong’o was scarier than Josh Brolin, for whatever that might be worth. Also more believable.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Lupita Nyong’o, Us
For as much as there were plenty of moments in this set, and I’m happy to acknowledge that Maisie Williams’s bit in the end of Game of Thrones was as good as anything else, I really loved both Captain Marvel and Captain Marvel’s brief bits in Avengers: Endgame. So there you have it.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Brie Larson, Captain Marvel
Best Comedic Performance
It’s the comedy categories where the differences between my tastes and those that MTV is trying to get after with these awards become the most apparent, you know? It makes me feel old and/or out of touch. Well, actually, it makes me feel like the marketing department at MTV has no idea what’s funny, but it’s less egomaniacal to put those feelings on me, and I like to keep up a good front.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Awkwafina, Crazy Rich Asians
Best Performance in a Show
I guess MTV’s editorial stance is that The Good Place doesn’t even exist. That’s stupid. Kudos for pulling the nom for Jason Mitchell after it turned out he was a dickbag, though.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin
Best Performance in a Movie
No voice performances, so we also don’t get anything from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (although see below). Not Jake Johnson, not Shameik Moore, not even Nicolas Cage. This is nonsense. Nonsense.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Lupita Nyong’o, Us
Of these, I guess it’s Big Mouth, but man, I don’t watch much television. Well, not much new television anyway. I’m old.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Big Mouth
For once there are good contenders, and I’d like to consider them, but instead of considering them, I’ll probably just go watch Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse again.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
- I usually also start it by saying “Ah, summer” or something like that. I’m unusually consistent in this regard. ↩
- obviously you have to have a pretty specific definition of “fun” for this to apply. ↩
- the inestimable Tom Lehrer once described what he did as not even preaching to the converted, but “titillating the converted”, and I think of that when things like this come around. I enjoy being titillated, certainly, but I’m not sure it’s the cultural force it’s sometimes confused for being. ↩
- I also hate to be the guy who says “I hate to be that guy”, a thing that I’m pretty sure isn’t a thing that people say anymore, but which is better than things being “A Thing” in just about every appreciable way. I’m working on not hating so much stuff, so I’m allowing to to stand, and then I’m equivocating about it here, and then I’m owning up to the equivocation. How many words am I wasting doing this? I don’t know, but every time I type another one of them it compounds the problem! ↩
- and is made even more impressive when you consider that most horror movies that are considered for any award, even this one, are abstracted and made meta-horror in all sorts of ways, which means the actual scare-response requires even more mental gymnastics to come up with. ↩