The 2017 MTV Video Music Awards featured a new category, the Best Fight Against The System Award. Technically, it’s not really new, as the award was previously known as the Best Video With a Social Message. But with the new title, MTV can honor musicians who are actively involved in causes outside of their music videos. The nominees for the first award include John Legend, Alessia Cara and The Hamilton Mixtape.
All nominees won the award. It was presented by Heather Heyer‘s mother, Susan Bro.
“The addition of the ‘Best Fight Against the System’ category was added to the 2017 MTV VMAs to continue reflecting the audience’s passion and activism around social justice issues such as environmental justice, immigration, LGBTQ equality, and racial justice,” an MTV spokesperson told Vox in July.
The award is just one of the many overhauls MTV has made for its two award shows. Like the MTV Movie Awards, the VMAs do not have gender-specific categories for the first time. So there are no “Best Male Artist” and “Best Female Artist” awards this year. The 2017 MTV Movie Awards also featured its first “Best Fight Against the System Award,” which was previously known as “Best Fight.” The first “Best Fight Against the System Award” went to Hidden Figures, which doesn’t feature traditional fist fights, but a fight against the white male-dominated world of NASA in the 1960s.
The “Best Fight Against The System” VMA was previously known as “Best Video With A Social Message,” although it was born in 2011 without the word “Social.” The previous winners are Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”; Demi Lovato’s “Skyscraper”; Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love” with Mary Lambert; Beyonce’s “Pretty Hurts”; and Big Sean’s “One Man Can Change The World” with Kanye West and John Legend.
The nominees for the award are:
Logic ft. Damian Lemar Hudson, “Black Spiderman”
Logic’s “Black Spiderman,” which features singer Damian Lemar Hudson, is meant to inspire unity. “This song is the celebration of unity and a world built upon division. People say things like I don’t see color, I just see people. To which I retour you should see color, you should see a black man, a white woman, a brown little girl or any other color of the rainbow,” Logic wrote in the liner notes for the album Everybody.
The Hamilton Mixtape, “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)”
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton remains a cultural phenomenon after its 2015 Broadway debut. In 2016, Miranda released The Hamilton Mixtape, featuring his songs performed by popular rappers, singers and musicians. “Immigrants (We Get The Job Done)” features K’naan, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC & Residente, with music by Trooko.
Big Sean, “Light”
Big Sean already won the previous version of this award for “One Man Can Change The World.” This year, he returns with “Light,” which features Jeremih. The video hopes to inspire black youth, despite the discrimination they face.
Alessia Cara, “Scars To Your Beautiful”
Alessia Cara’s hit single “Scars to Your Beautiful” is a song about female empowerment and encourages listeners to be positive about their own body.
Taboo ft. Shailene Woodley, “Stand Up/Stand N Rock #NoDAPL”
Taboo, a member of the Black Eyed Peas, enlisted actress Shailene Woodley for this protest song in support of the Native Americans who fought to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Taboo, whose real name is Jamie Luis Gomez, is of Native American descent.
John Legend, “Surefire”
“Surefire” is featured on Legend’s Darkness And Light. The video is the story of a Latino boy and his Muslim girlfriend trying to keep their relationship alive.