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The MTV Movie Awards Were Unapologetically Progressive This Year

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Emma Watson accepts the Best Actor in a Movie award for Beauty and the Beast from actor Asia Kate Dillon onstage during the 2017 MTV Movie And TV Awards on May 7, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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You might know the MTV Movie Awards best as the award show where celebrities are forced to make out before a live audience like trained seals, but the 2017 show committed itself to celebrating the diversity and range of this year in entertainment. Held Sunday night at L.A.'s Shrine Auditorium, the 2017 MTV Awards were the first in the show's 26-year history to honor TV as well as film; the entertainment industry still has miles to go in achieving true parity, but this year's MTV Movie & Awards took a definitive stand for inclusion. Check out the show's most progressive moments below.

Emma Watson won the first gender-neutral acting prize in awards-show history. As it turns out, a gender-neutral acting prize works a whole lot like a gender-specific acting prize—someone wins it, they read a speech, everyone claps, they leave the stage, life goes on. Beauty and the Beast star Watson praised the award's relevance in her speech, saying "The first acting award in history that doesn't separate nominees based on their sex says something about how we perceive the human experience." (Don't tell Piers Morgan, though—he's having a very, very hard time dealing with this.)

Moonlight's Ashton Sanders and Jharrel Jerome won for "Best Kiss." While the 2017 Oscars was still trying to figure out how to hand the right award to the right movie, MTV broke barriers by celebrating the onscreen chemistry between two young black men. "This represents more than a kiss," Sanders said in his moving acceptance speech, adding "This is for those that feel like the others, the misfits. This represents us."

"Best Hero" went to Taraji P. Henson. Move over, Marvel Comics; 2017's "Best Hero" award recognized Taraji P. Henson for her portrayal of real-life NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, whose fight against workplace racism was chronicled in Hidden Figures. The 2017 MTV Awards broke with tradition by celebrating a real-life hero; in previous years, the award has gone to action-adventure stars like Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence.

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Black-ish won for "Best American Story." Season 3 of ABC's Black-ish has ramped up its truth-to-power message since the 2016 election, with the show's lead, Dre Johnson—played by Anthony Anderson—delivering a powerful soliloquy on what it means to be black in the age of President Trump, set to Nina Simone's "Strange Fruit."


There was a "Best Fight Against The System" category.
The 2017 MTV Awards brought out Auntie Maxine Waters, California congresswoman and resistance heroine, to present the "Best Fight Against the System" award to "Hidden Figures." Other nominees in the category included Get Out and Loving.