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A 15-second clip directly addressing the civil rights protests in Ferguson, Mo., is set to air during the commercial time of the main show at the raucous MTV Video Music Awards, a network rep confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter on Sunday.
The Washington Post first reported on the planned public service announcements. The Ferguson video features a quote from author James Baldwin set against a black-and-white image of the sign of the city of Ferguson. “Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced,” the quote reads.
Why select the Baldwin quote to highlight? “It’s a call to action to our audience that we have to confront our own bias head-on before we can truly create change. The ongoing message for our audience is not to be color blind, but to be color brave,” said MTV president Stephen Friedman in an emailed response to THR.
Another civil rights themed video spot is set to air during the preshow. In that clip, also featured below, seven Millenials from diverse backgrounds are heard discussing stereotypes. A title card then reads “Look. Listen. Change.”
The event, held this year at the Forum, typically wills its way into the pop culture conversation annually with a controversial moment or two. The more substantive focus, if only briefly, on the ongoing demonstrations in the Missouri city after the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown could signal something different in this year’s news cycle surrounding the awards.
“MTV has been covering the events in Ferguson from the Millennial point of view since they first began,” a network statement read. “Utilizing all of our screens — from short-form, powerful interstitials on-air to editorial posts online and ongoing Twitter conversation, MTV has tapped into the confusion and emotion still permeating around this story.”
Aug. 24, 11:20 a.m. Updated with additional information, clarification that the Ferguson spot will air during the commercial time of the main show.
Aug. 24, 11:55 a.m. Updated with response from MTV President Stephen Friedman.
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