What to Expect at the 2017 VMAs: Katy Perry, Moon People, and the End of Gendered Categories

When MTV became one of the first American award shows to eliminate gender categories at the MTV Movie and TV Awards in May, people noticed.

“I give [MTV] credit for having the audacity to shake up the cultural DNA, to show us what a new kind of post-gender consciousness feels like,” said Variety columnist Owen Glieberman. “For kicking open a door by simply doing it.”

Now, MTV is doing it again.

In July, the network announced nominations for the VMAs – and gender-specific awards categories were conspicuously absent.

The categories formerly known as Best Female Video and Best Male Video have been consolidated into Artist of the Year. Nominees within this category include Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, and Kendrick Lamar, whose music video Humble received eight nominations – the highest total of all nominees this year.

Several days after this news broke, we learned that the iconic astronaut trophy has evolved alongside the categories. Meet the MTV Moon Person.

“Why should it be a man?” MTV President Chris McCarthy asked The New York Times. “It could be a man, it could be a woman, it could be transgender, it could be nonconformist.”

MTV also announced that Katy Perry would host the event. Her music video Chained to the Rhythm featuring Skip Marley received five nominations, tying her with fellow Artist of the Year nominee The Weeknd for the second highest number of nominations this year.

The VMAs will also carry over the Movie and TV Awards’ new category, Best Fight Against the System.

The Movie and TV Awards’ category celebrated “characters fighting back against systems that hold them down,” and the VMA version will honor music videos that do the same thing, such as The Hamilton Mixtape’s Immigrants (We Get the Job Done) and Alessia Cara’s Scars to Your Beautiful. Both videos generated positive buzz for their stance on important issues: immigration and body positivity, respectively.

These changes to the VMA format underscore MTV’s status as a cultural leader. They come in the midst of a network renaissance:  MTV brought back revitalized iterations of reality hits My Super Sweet 16 and Fear Factor in the spring, and the network recently announced plans to bring back its crown jewel of the 2000s, Total Request Live, this fall.

As McCarthy told the New York Times, “MTV’s reinvention is coming by harnessing its heritage.”

It’s one small step for MTV, one giant leap for personkind.

View the full list of nominations below, and cast your vote on the website. Watch the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday, August 27 broadcast live from The Forum in Inglewood, California.

VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Kendrick Lamar – “Humble”
Bruno Mars – “24K Magic”
Alessia Cara – “Scars to Your Beautiful”
DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller – “Wild Thoughts”
The Weeknd – “Reminder”

ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Bruno Mars
Kendrick Lamar
Ed Sheeran
Ariana Grande
The Weeknd
Lorde

BEST NEW ARTIST
Khalid
Kodak Black
SZA
Young M.A
Julia Michaels
Noah Cyrus

BEST COLLABORATION
Charlie Puth ft. Selena Gomez – “We Don’t Talk Anymore”
DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller – “Wild Thoughts”
D.R.A.M. ft. Lil Yachty – “Broccoli”
The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey – “Closer”
Calvin Harris ft. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry & Big Sean – “Feels”
Zayn & Taylor Swift – “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)”

BEST POP 
Shawn Mendes – “Treat You Better”
Ed Sheeran – “Shape of You”
Harry Styles – “Sign Of The Times”
Fifth Harmony ft. Gucci Mane – “Down”
Katy Perry ft. Skip Marley – “Chained To The Rhythm”
Miley Cyrus – “Malibu”

BEST HIP HOP 
Kendrick Lamar – “Humble”
Big Sean – “Bounce Back”
Chance the Rapper – “Same Drugs”
D.R.A.M. ft. Lil Yachty – “Broccoli”
Migos ft. Lil Uzi Vert – “Bad & Boujee”
DJ Khaled ft. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper & Lil Wayne – “I’m The One”

BEST DANCE
Zedd and Alessia Cara – “Stay”
Kygo x Selena Gomez – “It Ain’t Me”
Calvin Harris – “My Way”
Major Lazer ft. Justin Bieber and MØ – “Cold Water”
Afrojack ft. Ty Dolla $ign – “Gone”

BEST ROCK
Coldplay – “A Head Full of Dreams”
Fall Out Boy – “Young and Menace”
Twenty One Pilots – “Heavydirtysoul”
Green Day – “Bang Bang”
Foo Fighters – “Run”

BEST FIGHT AGAINST THE SYSTEM 
Logic ft. Damian Lemar Hudson – “Black SpiderMan”
The Hamilton Mixtape – “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)”
Big Sean – “Light”
Alessia Cara – “Scars To Your Beautiful”
Taboo ft. Shailene Woodley – “Stand Up / Stand N Rock #NoDAPL”
John Legend – “Surefire”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Kendrick Lamar – “Humble”
Imagine Dragons – “Thunder”
Ed Sheeran – “Castle on the Hill”
DJ Shadow ft. Run The Jewels – “Nobody Speak”
Halsey – “Now or Never”

BEST DIRECTION
Kendrick Lamar – “Humble”
Katy Perry ft. Skip Marley – “Chained to the Rhythm”
Bruno Mars – “24K Magic”
Alessia Cara – “Scars to Your Beautiful”
The Weeknd – “Reminder”

BEST ART DIRECTION
Kendrick Lamar – “Humble”
Bruno Mars – “24K Magic”
Katy Perry ft. Migos – “Bon Appetit”
DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller – “Wild Thoughts”
The Weeknd – “Reminder”

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Kendrick Lamar – “Humble”
A Tribe Called Quest – “Dis Generation”
KYLE ft. Lil Yachty – “iSpy”
Katy Perry ft. Skip Marley – “Chained to the Rhythm”
Harry Styles – “Sign of the Times”  

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY
Kanye West – “Fade”
Ariana Grande ft. Nicki Minaj – “Side to Side”
Kendrick Lamar – “Humble”
Sia – “The Greatest”
Fifth Harmony ft. Gucci Mane – “Down”

BEST EDITING
Future – “Mask Off”
Young Thug – “Wyclef Jean”
Lorde – “Green Light”
The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey – “Closer”
The Weeknd – “Reminder”

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