The “Moon Person” is the most coveted award given at the MTV Video Music Awards.
Since MTV launched in 1981, the silver trophy – originally named the “Moonman” – has depicted an astronaut planting a flag with the MTV logo on the moon’s surface. While the iconic statue has received few makeovers over the years, it was recently given a more gender neutral name.
Ahead of the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards, network president Chris McCarthy announced that the Moonman trophy would henceforth be known as Moon Person. In an interview with New York Times, McCarthy explained the decision behind the gender neutral name change – which came around the same time that the MTV Movie and TV awards stopped separating acting categories by gender.
“Why should it be a man?” McCarthy said. “It could be a man, it could be a woman, it could be transgender, it could be nonconformist.”
Last August, MTV marked its 40th anniversary with a relaunch of the Moon Person trophy. The new design, which was inspired by the original trophy image, was reimagined by Kehinde Wiley – the artist who painted the portrait of former President Barack Obama for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. The special edition Moon Person trophy featured the signature silver statue covered in green vines and pink flowers.
Since the first MTV Video Music Awards in 1984, the Moon Person has been used as a way to pay tribute to the network’s origins. When MTV launched in August 1984, the first image to appear on the channel showed footage of the historic Apollo 11 moon landing, with the MTV flag edited into the introduction.
The 2022 MTV VMAs takes place at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, with performances from Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Lizzo, Nicki Minaj and Red Hot Chili Peppers.