Acting, Too, Must Be Genderless

Because life wouldn’t be life without the constant discussion of gender and how it shouldn’t exist, and because the MTV Movie Awards desperately needed a new way to reestablish at least a modicum of its relevancy, we now have the genderless award for acting. In contrast to the name of this prize, a very femme (in the gamine sense) Emma Watson took home the popcorn for her performance in the ultra classicist tale that is Beauty and the Beast (which at least, in all its classicism, rails against fuckboys). How…ironically fitting. Because, yes, for all Hollywood wants to tout its supposed evolution and move toward progress, all of their motives are driven by what will get the public to the theater (metaphorically speaking, these days).

And what’s trending now is, very much so, genderlessness. Watson, so recently adamant about her anger toward men who couldn’t see women as heroic protagonists precisely because of a fixation on gender, accepted the award with elation, remarking that this is “the first acting award in history that doesn’t separate nominees based on their sex says something about how we perceive the human experience.”

That’s all well and good, to be sure. However, as this push toward “non-differentiation” in acting and cinematic roles escalates, what are we going to be watching? Two faceless beings with no genitalia lightly tossing imaginary kisses and thoughts of good will toward one another from across the room? It sounds like a bad experimental film for a college student’s thesis. No, there’s nothing wrong with, as Asia Kate Dillon (the appropriately non-binary gender actress–a word now tantamount to saying stewardess–who presented Watson with the award) said, “celebrat[ing] portrayals of the human experience, because the only distinction we should be making when it comes to awards is between each outstanding performance.” Except that it really doesn’t need to be that serious. That political. If Hollywood ever actually “let” enough trans or non-binary actors into the industry, couldn’t award shows just add in a separate nomination section for them as well? The galvanization toward the stamping out of gender isn’t, as so many believe, necessarily a good thing. It makes for an Orwellian evolution toward the eradication of sex–as in having it–altogether.

No one wants to take away how a person identifies in classifying awards by gender. It’s not an archaic or outmoded thing, honest. But MTV has always been one for keeping up with the trends that will placate the youths–even though they still have yet to bring music videos back to the channel. This is also why the win for Best Kiss went strategically to Moonlight actors Jharrel Jerome and Ashton Sanders. Though, back in the day, MTV was more about the male gaze view of a kiss between the same sexes, as evidenced by Cruel Intentions. While everyone in the industry is very well-meaning with this move toward genderlessness, it’s going to not only present unprecedented challenges to how screenwriters use their pronouns, but it’s also going to completely eradicate the days of the likes of Casablanca, Roman Holiday and Rear Window. But no, The Crying Game wasn’t enough for everyone in gender-shattering norms, was it?

On the plus side, one supposes, at least award shows are going to be vastly shortened in time without this former need for a division of the sexes.

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