Friday, May 15, 2009

EXAMINER #1: 'Twilight' takes bite out of MTV Movie Awards

If you’re wondering what’s happened to the MTV Movie Awards, you’re not alone.
It seems like it was just a few years ago that the MTV Movie Awards were relevant to pop culture. Now? They’re an afterthought. The reason? The nominees have officially become ridiculous.
Here are the facts: Beginning in 1992, the first six Golden Popcorn winners for Best Movie were “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” “A Few Good Men,” “Menace II Society,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Se7en” and “Scream.” All were rated R. In 1998, the PG-13 “Titanic” briefly interrupted the R-rated winning streak before “There’s Something About Mary,” “The Matrix” and “Gladiator” continued the trend. Since then, the only other R-rated winner was “Wedding Crashers” in 2006. Most of those movies fit my definition of a “modern classic,” so I’ll give MTV credit for being on top of its game in honoring influential films that, for the most part, have withstood the relative test of time.
That said, the last two Best Movie winners have been the summer blockbusters “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” and “Transformers.” Now, my problem isn’t that both of these movies made a ton of money, because with the exception of “Menace II Society,” all of the Best Movie winners listed in the previous paragraph made over $100 million at the domestic box office. I take exception with “POTC 2” and “Transformers” because they’re both mediocre movies, at best, and their triumphs illustrate a troubling trend; Where the MTV Movie Awards once honored challenging adult material that also appealed to a youthful demo, voters are now confusing the biggest movies with the best, allowing the show to be content existing as a popularity contest as decided by the high school crowd.
This year, the Best Movie nominees are a mixed bag: “The Dark Knight,” “High School Musical 3,” “Iron Man,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” and “Twilight.”
I won’t argue with the selections of “Slumdog” or “Dark Knight” because those were both great movies. But it’s a shame that neither will likely take home the Golden Popcorn on May 31 because it’s a foregone conclusion that the mass cult of “Twilight” fans will stuff the ballot box, ensuring its victory and more airtime for its dreamy star Rob Pattinson. Furthermore, the success of “Twilight” on the evening will dictate how the next few years of MTV Movie Award shows will play out, given that Summit has two sequels on the way.
Take for example the Best Kiss category, which usually features an inspired group of liplockers. This is a category that has historically been dominated by same-sex kisses. Past winners include “Cruel Intentions,” “American Pie 2,” “Brokeback Mountain” and most recently, “Talladega Nights.” This year, I would’ve thought that Sean Penn and James Franco to win for their scintillating smooch in “Milk,” but I fully expect the “Twilight’s” ratings-boosting duo of Kristen Stewart and Pattinson to take the stage because life, and more specifically the MTV Movie Awards, isn’t fair.
Then again, what does ‘fair’ have to do with anything? The MTV Movie Awards aren’t supposed to be the Oscars. Its primary goal is to entertain a few million teenagers for a couple hours, not to get the awards “right.” How can anyone take the show seriously when Angelina Jolie and Anne Hathaway are respectively nominated for “Wanted” and “Bride Wars” instead of “Changeling” and “Rachel Getting Married?”
This is an awards show that changes its categories annually, forcing this year’s voters to spend their time contemplating the Best 'WTF' Moment. This is an actual award, people. What qualifies as a 'WTF' moment? Amy Poehler peeing in the sink in “Baby Mama.” Forget the fact that Ashton Kutcher did the exact same thing in “What Happens in Vegas.” Why does this category even exist? Did MTV learn nothing from past awards such as Best Summer Movie So Far, which was only mildly less embarrassing than Best Summer Movie You Haven’t Seen Yet, which amounted to Best Trailer. It’s also hard to forget the discontinued awards for Sexiest Performance (which only objectified women) and Best Frightened Performance, which went to whatever flavor-of-the-month Scream Queen could look the most scared in her underwear.
I know MTV targets a younger, more PG-13 audience these days, and I’m not asking for voters to show some love to Frank Langella or Melissa Leo. I just wish they would hold themselves to the same standards as MTV’s audience in the 90s, which apparently had much better taste. Fortunately, in ten years, “Slumdog” and “Twilight” won’t even be mentioned in the same breath, let alone the same category.
Regardless of who wins, “SNL” star and professed “Motherlover”Andy Samberg promises to be a high-energy host who should be able to keep the evening moving at a nice pace. And I can take solace that at the very least, MTV nominated Bruce Springsteen’s heartbreaking theme to “The Wrestler,” which the Academy had the nerve to snub.
I know there’s a legion of “Twilight” fans on because it’s one of the site’s most popular topics and I’d hate to alienate that considerable readership with my first column (although I’m pretty sure this will be the first and last time “Twilight” is involved in a discussion of National Movie Awards), but this could be the last chance to save the MTV Movie Awards. Click here to vote until May 31!

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