Photography by Matt Wyatt

2012 Teen Choice Rewards Review

Taylor Lautner spoke for every celebrity in attendance at the TCA’s tonight from Taylor Swift to Justin Bieber and Kristin Stewart to Zac Efron when he said “We owe everything to you guys.” Feeling so strongly about this, he and his Twilight co-stars gave away their surfboards, the award received by tonight’s winners, to a few fans in the crowd. For the many awards they received they could have easily stood there in silence and simply allowed the audience to worship them or talk about how great they are. Instead, they stumbled over their words, even Patterson stated that he wasn’t sure why they hadn’t gotten better at these speeches.

The Teen Choice Awards offers teenagers the opportunity to feel powerful. Unlike other adult award shows, the winners are decided purely by teenagers ages 13 to 19 voting for their favorite nominee. This method gives youth workers an unequaled opportunity to look into teen culture and see what is popular and what may be popular in the near future. With 134 million teenagers voting, there are few better ways to learn about their world.

The show opened up with a mocking of DirectTV’s latest commercial style of cause and effect scenarios. This is actually kind of ironic considering DirectTV is currently having issues with Viacom blacking out popular teen channels such as MTV, VH1 and Nickelodeon.The mock commercial hits several teen stereotypes. The cause: Not watching the Teen Choice Awards. The effect: Losing friends on Facebook who leave you to find “real friends,” as in actual people you know (go figure).

The show opened up with it being announced as the, ‘show the summer.’ The swarm of lights, camera angles and dancers satisfy the need for instant gratification and constant excitment in our culture. You can get a good sense of who teens find the most popular just by the screams following their favorite icon’s name being announced. It’s almost like being at a high school graduation where you can tell who has been popular in the last four years and who hasn’t, either by the roaring applause or the still silence. From what I could tell the popular list included: Taylor Lautner, Josh Hutchison, One Direction, Kristen Stewart, the cast of Pretty Little Liars and Robert Pattinson (all winners tonight).

Tonight’s hosts consisted of Demi Lovato and Fox’s Glee star Kevin McHale. This was obviously Fox preparing teenagers to get excited for the upcoming season of X-Factor, starring Lovato.

I was impressed and happy to see that just about everyone had their clothes on. Unlike the teen awards I remember growing up with on MTV. The Step Up dancers had only a couple of guys without shirts on and even the dancers performing with Justin Bieber were in full body clothing (following a futuristic machine like theme). Sex seemed to be a much smaller part of the awards show then it has been in the past. Maybe due to Fox being a more conservative channel and the show no longer being on the cable only station, MTV?

Another thing I was happy to see was Accuvue sponsoring an award which goes to a celebrity who has made a positive impact. This years Inspire award went to Miranda Cosgrove who promoted several charities while balancing a career as an actress and a singer. How cool would it be to have an award celebrating the teen of the year, showing teenagers that you don’t have to be famous or rich to make a profound impact on the world? Another cool award might be “parent(s) of the year ” award, promoting families. Just an idea.

I wasn’t so impressed by the “hottie” award. Unlike the others, this award doesn’t celebrate the hard work or talent of the artists. Instead, it is based off of whoever the voters find the most physically attractive. I was actually hoping that the recent campaigns of everyone being beautiful no matter their weight, height, mental capability etc would have done away with this rather narrow minded and judgmental award. However, we have to remember that teenagers really do believe that everyone is looking at them and so looks remain a very important part of the culture. This could also be seen in the commercials that ran during the show for clothing brands such as H&M for example. Not only does the hottie award feed into to the shallowness of teen culture, the female winner, Miley Cyrus is less than an ideal role model given the pictures of her in her underwear that have leaked onto the internet or the video of her giving a lap dance, just to cite a couple examples.

I also wasn’t too impressed by No Doubt’s performance. To be honest, I’m surprised this was such a highlight of the show and not done off-air. No Doubt means very little to the generation in the audience at the TCA’s and with their latest single not really sounding like any of their old stuff and more like something Gwen Stefani would have sang during her solo career, the crowd is left wondering what just happened.

Twilight once again stole the evening. The whole fantasy themes of The Vampire Diaries (another award winner), Harry Potter and True Blood have forever shaped Youth Culture. As Swift said,”We love being transported to worlds other than our own.” In a world of adult abandonment, where teenagers have gone underground, creating their own world in which they rule through unspoken regulations, it is no surprise that themes of escape and fantasy are so popular.


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