Margaret Eby
March 05, 2015 1:40 pm

The MTV Movie Award nominations were just announced yesterday, and we’re psyched about it—for the most part. Amy Schumer as host? Yes, please. Channing Tatum nominated in multiple categories? That seems smart to us.

The MTV Movie Awards are always the fun counterpoint to the other awards shows, which can get bogged down in self-seriousness. They also measure movies in categories that aren’t just technical: Best movie kiss, best movie fight, and best villain are all really clever ways of talking about what we really go to the movies to see.

But there’s one category that we kind of wish that they would take off the ballot. Do we really, really need Best Shirtless Performance?

It’s all in good fun, we know. And it’s not like it’s just a way to ogle women’s chests: This year’s nominees are all dudes, except for Kate Upton. There’s Channing Tatum in Foxcatcher, Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy, Zac Efron in Neighbors, and Ansel Elgort in The Fault in Our Stars.

Efron, who won the dubious honor last year, was a sport when Rita Ora ripped his shirt off as he accepted his award—but it was both objectifying and served to remind us of a double standard that exists for men. (That move wouldn’t have been in any way acceptable if their roles were reversed.)

There is no denying it: celebrating shirtlessness in our actors diminishes their actual performances and objectifies them in a way that feels both sexist and outdated.

Every other category has to do with talent, hard work, and performance, from Best Villain to Best Kiss. Shirtless Performance is just “how good do you look acting topless.” It’s a beauty contest. And it feels a little icky, and a little disrespectful of the actors, both male and female. It’s also not awesome for viewers. The category reinforces unrealistic beauty standards by celebrating somewhat idealized body types and by putting celebrity torsos on a virtual pedestal. In this way, nobody wins.

We love you, MTV Movie Awards. But maybe it’s time to leave that category in the dust.

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