2011 MTV Movie Awards

The 2011 MTV Movie Awards aired last night (Sunday, June 5), and something interesting happened: a lot of young women won awards.
I didn’t watch the ceremony. I’m too old for MTV, and didn’t even realize the show had happened until I came across a mean-spirited article, published last year, unironically lamenting “Why Twilight Ruined the MTV Movie Awards.” Because no other movie with a lousy script ever won an MTV Movie Award? No one would argue that MTV awards are based on high art and excellent filmmaking, but, like most major awards, they’re worth looking at for their cultural significance. And, for some reason, this year’s winners give me something to feel good about.

Here are a selection of the winners (you can see the full list here).

Best Comedic Performance: Emma Stone for Easy A

Best Female Performance: Kristen Stewart for The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Best Scared-As-S**t Performance: Ellen Page for Inception

Best Line from a Movie: Alexys Nycole Sanchez for Grown Ups

MTV Generation Award: Reese Witherspoon

Best Breakout Star: Chloë Grace Moretz for Kick-Ass

Biggest Badass Star: Chloë Grace Moretz for Kick-Ass

Only one of the above categories is gender specific, and though we could endlessly debate The Twilight Problem (Stephanie did just that in her review of New Moon), it’s worth noting that Stewart won the Best Female Performance award for a film geared toward a female audience. If you have nothing at all positive to say about The Twilight Saga, you still have to admit that this film series is wildly popular with and unabashedly made for young (and some not so young) women. This shouldn’t be remarkable, but it is.
Young women are highlighted in these awards for being funny, for being iconic, for breaking out, and for being badass. What other awards are recognizing women–particularly young women–in this way?
I’ll admit that many of the films these actresses won for (the ones I’ve seen, at least) are problematic. I’m not really celebrating that Easy A (which I found virtually unwatchable) won an award, but I am celebrating that a film with a female lead is being recognized as containing a great comedic performance. There was a lot of controversy surrounding Kick-Ass and the way the character Hit Girl was portrayed, but I am thrilled that a teenage girl (who was 12 when she made the film) is being recognized and rewarded as “badass.” 
Even if MTV continues to make us shudder with their programming, they are highlighting young women in film. Hollywood and other awards shows: take notice!
  • Anonymous

    “Young women are highlighted in these awards for being funny, for being iconic, for breaking out, and for being badass. What other awards are recognizing women–particularly young women–in this way?”

    The Golden Globes, Academy Awards, and Screen Actors Guild. Young women were recognized for thought provoking and memorable performances. Last night on MTV, I saw young women get ridiculed, fondled, pulled about, and generally treated like sex objects and arm candy. I wouldn’t put it in any win column.

  • Anonymous: I completely get your point about the “win column” (and didn’t watch the actual ceremony, so you could speak with more authority on that), but would argue that women on most awards shows are “generally treated like sex objects and arm candy” as well. When lacking gender-specific categories, as the acting awards you mention have, women are rarely given awards. “Icon” awards (lifetime achievement and such) don’t typically go to women–particularly in recent years. Female comedic leads rarely win; typically those awards go to women who, while categorized as “leading,” are supporting a male lead.

    So, let me echo the disclaimer I carefully placed in my post: the MTV awards show (and MTV in general) is problematic, but they’re awarding young women for things other awards are ignoring. Feel free to disagree, of course, but I do think that’s something.