Moonlight Nominated For Best Kiss at 2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards

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The MTV Movie Awards show is pretty chill, and let’s be honest, basically for funsies. Compared to the Oscars, it’s a less serious recognition based on very loose criteria and fan-based whim. I know when I was growing up, I only ever watched it to see my favorite heartthrobs {YUM}, and to see who won the Best Kiss category {Sips tea.}. Over the years, those nominated for the Best Kiss category have come from a variety of the heaviest, most dramatic scenes to some of the most ludicrous and tactless. Though Best Kiss nominees usually show up in heterosexual scenes (and every now and then, same-sex kisses performed for humor) true kisses between queer pairings is a rare catch at the MTV Movie Awards. This year, we find that the Best Picture Oscar award-winning film, Moonlight, has joined the ranks of the few truly queer nominees of the award show’s history.

Barry Jenkin’s Moonlight is a powerful film about a struggling Blaq young man and his growth from a child to an adult. Actors Ashton Sanders and Jharrel Jerome have been nominated for their climactic {wink wink} kiss in their scene that serves as the turning point for the rest of the film. But Moonlight’s recognition doesn’t end here. It has been nominated not once, but thrice at this year’s MTV Movie awards. And even though it probably still would’ve won the nominations anyway because of its incredible artsmanship, to receive 3 nominations this year is a special feat considering this is the first year that MTV is including both movies and TV in their awards deliberation. The film has also been nominated for “Best Tearjerker” and “Best American Story”, being the only film selected for the latter category.

It could be said that the most well-known MTV Best Kiss winner by a same-sex pairing is from 2006’s Brokeback Mountain with Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger. Some, like myself, might think that this was the first, but actually, the first same-sex Best Kiss winner goes back to 1999’s Cruel Intentions between Buffy hottie, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Selma Blair. And to go back even further, the first “queer” Kiss to be nominated was in 1996 in the film Bound. So it’s safe to say the same-sex Best Kiss hasn’t been around for too long, but that doesn’t mean we should be as short as we are on queer Kiss nominees and a microscopic amount of winners. So to state the obvious and to shout it from the rooftops like so many before me, Queerness, and true pairings, not queerness as humor, should have more representation and more stories told in mainstream film. Maybe now that MTV is expanding their show to include TV, we’ll get more of what we deserve.

Now, similar to Brokeback Mountain, Moonlight’s kiss between Jharrel Jerome and Ashton Sanders is between two straight actors. They may understand the importance of their kiss within the context of the film, but applied to this award, I worry that they will forget how easily the act can be twisted when produced for spectatorship. Audiences– especially straight audiences– need to be very careful of the way they act as spectators should Jerome and Sanders win. Traditionally, after the winners are announced, the pair goes onto the stage and recreates their kiss for the entertainment of all their voters. Queer kisses, especially between gay men, has been an act fetishized heavily by straight women, and other straight people. So have fun, and good luck, but remember that there’s a line between taking pleasure in a kiss between two people and fetishizing a kiss based on its queerness.

 

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