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MTV plans to make the VMA “Moonman” gender-neutral

The change is part of an overall bid by the channel to return to some sort of relevance.

GayRVA Staff | August 8, 2017

Yes, it’s true–after 34 years, MTV will rename their Video Music Awards statue the “moon person.” When word reached the GayRVA offices this morning, this fascinated us. Not so much because it was a positive step towards diversity as because none of us could remember the last time we’d even watched the VMAs. “Are they even still a thing?” we couldn’t help but wonder.

Sure enough, the 34th Annual MTV Video Music Awards will be taking place on Sunday, August 27th. And the fact that none of us had any idea until this story crossed our desks is part of what MTV is attempting to address with their adoption of the “moon person” terminology for the award statue.

“Why should it be a man?” MTV president Chris McCarthy said in an interview with the New York Times. “It could be a man, it could be a woman, it could be transgender, it could be nonconformist.” McCarthy makes a valid point, even if his terminology is rather clumsy (in that vaguely charming manner so many well-meaning straight men seem to have in common). The design of the statue won’t change in any way as part of its relabeling, which makes plenty of sense–after all, it could be anyone inside that rather generic space suit.

The move to re-gender (or de-gender?) the moon person isn’t the only way MTV’s making an attempt to reach a more progressive younger audience. A planned reality show currently in development, “We Are They,” is a coming-of-age show following a cast made up entirely of gender-nonconforming youths as they do things like start college and try to enter the dating world.

All of this is really happening for one reason, though–declining market share. The New York Times article explains that MTV’s ratings have plummeted over the past half-decade, with several previous turnaround strategies having failed. Viacom, which owns MTV as well as Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, and quite a few other cable networks, has suffered steadily declining stock prices for years now.

McCarthy’s idea to reach out to an audience more aware of issues relating to gender and the LGBTQ community is not his biggest plan for making MTV relevant again. That idea? Bringing back TRL. And no, Carson Daly won’t be involved.

Hey, maybe that’ll work! I guess we’ll see in the coming months, as TRL returns to MTV’s airwaves this coming October. If I were president of MTV, I’d probably make a more basic change–go back to showing videos.