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By Gioia Forster
The MTV Movie Awards have long been an antidote to the Academy Awards. The yearly awards ceremony is an evening of outrageous outfits, screaming teenagers, scandalous presenters and acceptance speeches that don’t talk about films bringing about world peace. It doesn’t take itself very seriously, and neither does the film industry. It shows a different side to Hollywood, actors letting loose on live television, and it is a spectacle for the die-hard teenage fans of Robert Pattinson & Co. Yet it is heavily criticised for being merely an infomercial for summer blockbusters and giving smaller films no change against heavyweights such as the Twilight franchise. Even the MTV president Stephen Friedman admits that “it wasn’t growing the way we want it to”.
Now MTV has announced a make-over for the 2012 awards show that is aimed at improving its reputation. Several new awards categories as well as a change in the voting system are meant to raise the credibility of Hollywood’s playground that is the MTV Movie Awards. The public voting system has been the greatest factor in the teenage-driven spectacle – fourteen-year olds would never choose Kate Winslet over Kristen Stewart. This, the new producer of the show Jesse Ignjatovic hopes influence by introducing a new “special voting Academy” of industry insiders who will vote on the list of nominees for the twelve awards. Allowing members of the film industry to choose the nominees will perhaps raise the bar and avoid categories to be filled solely with the likes of Zac Efron, Daniel Radcliffe and Taylor Lautner; Friedman says he hopes to give “some of the unexpected, smaller, quirkier films” a chance. Yet the core viewer base of the award ceremony is a teen audience, and threatening this will not do much to increase its viewer ratings and popularity.
This year’s award ceremony will also see several new award categories to replace for instance Best Scared-as-Shit Performance, Biggest Badass Star and Best Line From a Movie: with the new category of Best On-Screen Transformation, MTV hopes to give more credit to quality acting performances. An interesting new category will also be Best Breakthrough Performance, which will now be voted for by a group of anonymous directors rather than viewers, and may well mean we will be seeing someone other than Robert Pattinson on stage receiving the golden popcorn. 2012 will also see music playing a bigger role with acts such as indie pop band Fun. set to play on the night and the new category of Best Music rewarding those music supervisors that create iconic scenes through a perfect marriage of music and film.
In its attempt to clean up its act, the MTV Movie Awards might well find a greater balance between honouring quality films and a frivolous spectacle of Best Kiss-winners recreating their film scenes on stage and presenters groping each other, like Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake did last year. Yet it is to be seen whether the alterations won’t scare away many twihards and Miley Cyrus-fans, while falling far short of what Hollywood considers serious. As long as MTV does not lose sight of what makes the movie awards a worthwhile and outrageous event to watch – precisely that most, especially the actors, do not take it seriously – it will most probably remain Hollywood’s playground and attract millions of viewers.