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.

Read More

Leslie Jones to Host Star-Laden 17th BET Awards

The 17th BET Awards will celebrate top music, television, sports and movie talent on Sunday, June 25.

Comedian and Saturday Night Live actress and writer Leslie Jones, host of the 2017 awards show, got her start on BET and can’t wait to return to honor some of entertainment’s hottest stars.

The BET Awards have become a cultural touchstone. Last year’s awards captivated audiences with mesmerizing performances and a tribute to Prince. One of the evening’s most moving moments came when Jesse Williams, Greys Anatomy star and civil rights activist, utilized his Humanitarian Award acceptance speech to address how the challenges of living in a racially prejudiced world impact the black community.

This year’s Humanitarian Award winner is Chance the Rapper, whom BET is honoring for his strides toward improving the lives of young black men, decreasing gun violence, and financially supporting Chicago Public Schools.

Another highlight of the show will be incredible performances by artists Bruno Mars, Future, Migos, Trey Songz, Tamar Braxton and more.

The BET Awards draws top names from across the entertainment landscape, and many of them will ascend the stage to present awards. Among the major names will be Yara Shahidi, Cardi B, Issa Rae, Jamie Foxx, La La Anthony, Trevor Noah, Robin Thede, Cari Champion and Demetrius Shipp Jr.

The nominees include some of the biggest names in entertainment.  Queen Bey (Beyoncé) will be continuing her highest total nomination streak with seven new nominations, including Best Female R&B/Pop Artist, Best Collaboration with Kendrick Lamar for Freedom, Video of the Year, and Album of the Year for Lemonade. Bruno Mars is nominated in five categories, including Album of the Year, Best Male R&B/Pop Artist, and Video of the Year. Chance the Rapper and Migos each clocked four nominations. Check out the full list of nominees below.

Read More

Get Schooled Scores a Spot on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in Gaming List

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

The lighting-thumbed gamer diehards will nod in knowing agreement as they glance at Fast Company’s roll call of the 10 most innovative companies in gaming – streamer Twitch, gamemakers 2K and Activision Blizzard, founding father of modern gaming Nintendo. But the name at number nine might teach even the most seasoned gamer something brand new: Get Schooled, the non-profit organization whose primary mission is inspiring students to finish high school and succeed in college.

How exactly does an organization founded via a partnership between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Viacom crash a who’s who of modern gaming giants? By adopting the fearless attitude and experimental dynamic of a Silicon Valley start-up driven to solve an complex problem.

“Get Schooled has a track record of success in part because we have adopted the principles of a high performing tech start up: we value partnerships, use data to continuously improve and have learned how to fail fast,” said Marie Groark, Executive Director of Get Schooled.

Those improvements have hinged upon a bold and vast adventure into gamification, a realm that many high school students know well and require no primer to engage with. The pivot began just two years after Get Schooled launched in 2010, transforming www.getschooled.com into an immersive gamified universe, where competition, point scoring and rules have engaged millions of young people, who can cash out their points for stuff like autographed gear from NBA and NFL stars, calculators or backpacks in a rewards store sponsored by the organization.

Students can also earn scholarships, or celebrity appearances by the likes of DJ Khaled, Nicki Minaj, James Harden, KeKe Palmer, Nick Cannon, Ne-Yo, Chance the Rapper and Ludacris. Check out Kendrick Lamar’s visit to Bethel High School in Alaska, a former “drop-out factory” that earned the visit by winning one of Get Schooled’s national points-based competitions:

Read More

Big K.R.I.T. Speaks Out, Snoop Is Honored as DJ Khaled Hosts BET Hip Hop Awards

The annual BET Hip Hop Awards celebrates and showcases the year’s best in hip-hop culture, and 2016 was no exception. From Atlanta’s Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, the awards dished out memorable honors and performances by some of the biggest names in the industry. This year’s Hip Hop Awards, hosted by major key himself DJ Khaled, left us wanting “another one.”

via GIPHY

Why? Check out some highlights below, then watch the rest here.

Let’s Get Things Moving

Take notes – this is how to open a show in style. Gucci Mane performed from his ninth studio album, Everybody Looking, alongside producer Zaytoven. Joined later on stage by Young Thug, Travis Scott and Migos Quavo, the artists set the stage for the Hip Hop Awards, teaming up to perform Pick Up the Phone. Watch it here.

via GIPHY

Read More

The 2015 BET Awards Dazzle and Electrify

The newly minted Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles was on fire Saturday night as the 15th annual BET Awards came to town. It was a night full of phenomenal performances, heartfelt speeches and unforgettable moments. The night’s top winners included Kendrick Lamar for Best Male Hip Hop Artist and in a three-way tie, Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj and Chris Brown won three awards each, followed by Oscar-winning film “Selma” and FOX’s “Empire,” which each took home two awards.

The evening also featured some throwback moments that paid tribute to the legends. Legendary recording artist and Motown executive Smokey Robinson received the Lifetime Achievement Award. He also performed “Tracks of My Tears,” “Cruisin’,” and a crowd sing-along to “My Girl,” with Tori Kelly, Robin Thicke and Ne-Yo. Check it out:


Hosts Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson captivated the crowd the entire night, thanks to their riffs on a range of hot topics and impersonating celebrities from Sam Smith to Cookie and Lucius from “Empire.” For a complete list of award winners and more information, click here.