The policy was put into practice by Asia Kate Dillion when she proudly noted she has been able to break down gender barriers as "the first openly non-binary actor to play an openly non-binary actor on a major TV show" (Showtime's drama series "Billions"), then presented the Best Actor in a Movie award to Emma Watson of "Beauty and the Beast." A non-binary person is someone who doesn't identify with either gender.
"Acting is about the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes, and that doesn't need to be separated into two different categories," Watson said in receiving her award.
There was another big difference in the 26th edition of what was formerly known as the MTV Movie Awards: TV shows were newly eligible for Golden Popcorn trophies.
The second award of the night - Best Actor in a Show - went to Millie Bobby Brown of Netflix's "Stranger Things."
Despite glowering skies and dime-size hailstones, MTV was heralding the start of the summer viewing season with its shindig. The red carpet outside Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium was a swamp as luminaries made their water-logged arrival for the shindig.
But inside, it was dry (except for flowing cocktails among audience members) as Adam Devine hosted the proceedings. In the press room, dry socks and T-shirts were distributed to sodden members of the media.
Tongue-in-cheek, Devine described himself as a progressive personality fully equal to the night's high-minded theme.
As the caption "Adam Gets It" flashed on the screen, Devine declared, "I love Hugh Jackman, but I call him Hugh Jack-PERSON."
And turning to another of the night's nominees, "Beauty and the Beast," he said, "I call it 'Multidimensional woman with her own dynamic traits, and the beast.'"
The show maintained its traditional irreverence with awards recognizing the best duo (Hugh Jackman and Dafne Keen of the film "Logan"), best tearjerker (TV hit "This Is Us"), and best kiss (Ashton Sanders and Jharrel Jerone of "Moonlight").
That last award was presented by co-stars of the film smash "Get Out": a blond Allison Williams, in shimmering miniskirt, alongside a nervous-looking Lil Rey Howery.
"Are you scared of me?" Williams asked.
"I'm AFRAID - that's the word I'm gonna use," Howery said.
"Ever since the movie came out, for the last couple of months," Williams said.
"Black dudes don't mess with you," said Howery, whose character in the film has reason to be scared of hers.
A new award, Best Fight Against the System, went to the film "Hidden Figures," which tells the story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role at NASA during the space program's early years.
The mission of the filmmakers, said one of its stars, Taraji P. Henson, was to dispel a wrong-headed cultural myth "so another young girl wouldn't grow up thinking that her mind wasn't capable of grasping math and science."
The cast of the "Fast and Furious" franchise received the Generation Award, accepted by Vin Diesel, who thanked a generation of fans "willing to accept this multicultural franchise where it didn't matter what color your skin was or what country you are from - when you're family, you're family."
Trevor Noah of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" was named Best Host.
"There is one person I aspire to be every single day," he said, "and that is my mom: a powerful, strong black woman who never listened when people told her she couldn't be more."
"Thank you to Donald J. Trump for the comedy," Noah added.
The first-ever Show of the Year: "Stranger Things."
Presenting Movie of the Year, Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn comically bobbled it (a la the Oscars), announcing "La La Light," then "Moonland." Then they got it right: "Beauty and the Beast."
Frazier Moore reported from New York.
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