Every year, the MTV Movie Awards roll around and nominate a bunch of films and TV shows in some normal categories (Best Movie, Best Performance) and some not normal categories (Best Villain, “Best Duo”). It’s not a huge deal, the show is little more than an excuse to sell some ads, but one of this year’s nominations has attracted some extra attention for some weird and creepy reasons.
The Last Of Us has been nominated for five “awards”, including Best Show, Best Hero (Pedro Pascal), Breakthrough Performance (Bella Ramsey) and Best Duo. That’s four, but the fifth is—and it’s important I relay the title as listed by MTV in full here, for the sake of context—BEST KISS (presented by Cheetos®).
It wasn’t a series defined by its romantic interludes, but for a show about a fungus destroying the human race it did find a surprising amount of time to explore the species’ sweeter side. You would expect that were an award designed specifically to showcase cool, important and memorable kisses decide to honour The Last Of Us, then maybe in this case the prize would go to Ellie and Riley’s adventurous little peck, or Bill and Frank finding tenderness amidst the desolation.
Nope. The show’s producers, perhaps in the hopes that someone, anyone would write something about the broadcast (well done!), have selected Anna Torv and Philip Prajoux for the nomination. The ever-magnificent Torv played Tess, a character who only appeared in three episodes, and if you’ve never heard of Prajoux that’s because he was playing one of the zombies involved in Tess’ demise. Specifically, the one who rams his fungus tendrils down her throat.
As Austen Goslin (who I agree with entirely) over at Polygon writes, it felt “leering, and bizarrely objectifying, to have the otherwise bold, confident Tess passively stand by as her death approaches. The moment sexualizes her in the creepiest, most voyeuristic way possible, without giving her much of a perspective or anything to say.”
You’re telling me that in a series that found the time to devote an entire episode to a blossoming gay relationship, and another to a teenage girl’s emerging sexual identity, that the “best kiss” was a scene where a previously badass character was undermined by a pointlessly graphic (and unsettlingly sexualised) death scene? Get the fuck out of here, MTV. You too, Cheetos®.