The MTV Video Music Awards have introduced a new category this year to honor music with a social conscience. Best Message Video singles out six videos that raise awareness or promote acceptance.
One nominee is also in the running for Video of the Year: "Firework" by Katy Perry, who has an impressive ten nominations overall, includes such lyrics as "Do you know that there's still a chance for you / 'Cause there's a spark in you / You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine," and its video showcases various characters – including a gay teen and an overweight girl – learning to accept themselves.
That theme is echoed by another nominee, Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," which quickly became a gay rights anthem after its release last February. Similarly, Rise Against's "Make it Stop (September's Children)" was inspired by the It Gets Better Project, started by columnist and activist Dan Savage as a response to the recent rash of suicides by gay teens; the video features gay and lesbian students who consider taking their own lives as a result of abuse from their peers, and it ends with clips from It Gets Better videos.
Taylor Swift's "Mean" addresses itself directly to bullies, assuring them, "Someday I'll be living in a big old city / And all you're ever gonna be is mean." Pink contends with "F**ckin Perfect," whose video tells the story of a troubled teen (played by actress Tina Majorino) who mutilates herself before finally expressing her pain through artwork, while the singer offers reassurance to those who doubt themselves.
The sixth nominee is the only contender not to address the issue of acceptance. "Love the Way You Lie" by Eminem and Rihanna, with a video featuring Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan as a battling couple, concerns domestic violence. The song already earned Grammy nominations for Record and Song of the Year earlier this year, and the video is also in the running for Best Male Video and Best Direction.
Which video made the greatest impact? Predict the winner HERE, and watch the VMAs live on Sunday, August 28, to find out who wins.