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WTF Happened To The Teen Choice Awards????

Updated on August 17, 2019
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I am an online writer who's articles focus primarily on the music industry.

FOX's annual Teen Choice Awards is a nothing award show. Basically, if you were to have a scale of importance, the Emmys, Grammys, Oscars and Tonys would be the 10s; the American Music Awards, Peoples Choice Awards, BRITs, MTV VMAs, and CMAs would be around 6; the MTV Movie Awards, Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards and ESPYs would be around 4; and at the bottom of the scale, Spike TVs Guy's Choice Awards, the YouTube Awards, the AVNs, any award show produced for Disney Channel, and the Teen Choice Awards. You could get fooled that an award show is more important than it actually is if the producer is able to get a lot of current popular celebrities to show up. And that is usually due to timing, your award show air when a lot of celebrities are promoting their newest projects, and not around the time any other award shows or televised events are airing to give those celebrities some other red carpet to show up at.

I liked FOX's Teen Choice Awards, and not because it airs months after the last award show aired, or the fact that it's award is an actual surf board, but because it was always deliberately positioned to steal the thunder from MTV's Video Music Awards. FOX always made sure the Teen Choice Awards aired a couple of weeks before the MTV VMAs. I even heard somewhere that MTV had been developing a Teen Choice Awards as an answer to the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards, and someone at FOX decided to beat them to it. With exception to the casts of Jersey Shore and The Hills and anyone else under contract to MTV, pretty much everyone who showed up at the MTV VMAs had just previously appeared on the Teen Choice Awards. And for a couple of years, celebs that did the Teen Choice Awards skipped the MTV VMAs. For a brief time it looked as if the Teen Choice Awards would finally squash the bug that is the VMAs for good.

And if you think I am being a little too hostile to the VMAs, then you are right. I was part of the original MTV generation, who were promised a 24 hour music channel, and all they had to do was constantly call up their cable companies and beg them to add it. We loved our music video channel. We made our music video channel the first major success of the just emerging Cable Television market, even before CNN, ESPN and HBO finally started making profits. We loved our MTV! But then Viacom bought the channel, installed their own executives, and gradually phased almost all the music programming out. You can occasionally still find music videos on MTV if you are up very late, and they are not airing an overnight marathon of one of their reality shows. There was a huge gap between those dark years and when YouTube finally arrived, where if your favorite recording artist released a new music video then you were shit out of luck. Or you would wait for your cable company to add MTV2, but by the time they finally did, MTV2 had also phased out showing music videos.

And why were music videos so important to us? Because MTV taught us that music videos were important. They bombasted us with their "I Want My MTV" advertisements which told us how cool having music videos on 24 hours was. And they gave us their annual MTV Music Video Awards. An event that, for a while there, every major recording artist showed up at. Even recording artists who never showed up at the Grammys. Prior to the 80s we never gave music videos a second thought. By the end of the 80s they were part of our everyday lives.
MTV got us all addicted to music videos, then they took it all away. Imagine if Mark Zuckerberg decided to take social media off of Facebook and replace it all with click bait news, because he decided click bait news made more money. You'd be pissed that a major part of our shared culture was suddenly gone. But not too pissed, because there are a multitude of other social media sites you could move to. When MTV and VH1 phased out music videos there was no other music video channel to switch to. MTV had shut down all competition by pressuring record companies into signing exclusive deals where only MTV could air their new videos.
So yeah, the annual VMAs became a cruel joke to us. Why was this channel handing out awards to the videos it no longer airs? That's like North Korea having an annual civil rights award show. And why was MTV still using it's original name? MTV is an acronym for Music Tele-Vision. It is clearly no longer a music channel? Yet every summer ended with the Music Television Video Music Awards, a blatant reminder of what had been stolen from us.

The MTV VMAs had been slowly declining, both in popularity and ratings, since the mid 90s. Why would recording artists feel obligated to show up at the VMAs if MTV could no longer threaten not to air their videos? The final nail in the coffin was the Fox Teen Choice Awards. It aired when movie studios were pushing the last ( and crappiest ) of their summer films, while getting ready to release their initial batch of summer films on home video. And when television networks had finalized their fall season schedule. And months since record companies had their last award show to promote their artists on, and during the summer hiatus of Ellen and many other talkshows. So basically, position perfectly to get a lot of celebrities on the promotion trail. But more importantly, giving those celebrities and recording artists an option should they only want to appear at one award show that quarter. So basically stealing performers and presenters and even hosts from the VMAs.
It was a huge middle finger to MTV, and I loved it! Even if the awards themselves were pointless, and the rules allowed the producers to throw out the internet voting results and pick whatever winners they wanted.

So what happened this year? This was the first year since the Teen Choice Awards began airing that I missed the live broadcast. Why? Because I didn't know it was on. There must have been some promotion, but I didn't see any advertisements for it anywhere. I didn't even notice commercials for it when watching FOX or FX. No promotion I was aware of on YouTube, IMDb, or any other websites I frequent. And nothing in any magazines or newspapers. Had they not mention it the day after it aired on Access Hollywood, I would have never know it was on. Thank God for Fox on Demand......I guess.

My response to the show was "Holy Crap! What happened to it?!" First noticable thing, it was live on a beach. In other words, no arena or theater was booked for the broadcast as in the past. And believe me, no producer wants an award show outside where rain, possible cold temperatures and outside noises like jet planes could potentially ruin a broadcast. If they were outside then FOX either couldn't find an indoor venue, or just didn't want to pay for one this year. The other immediately noticable thing, the audience watching the show was miniscule. The whole show was inside a rectangular fenced off area, with the stage and dressing room on one end, and the grounds for the audience on the other. And the area for the audience was only a quarter filled at best.

Thinner than the audience were the celebrities. One Republic opened the show, and their band was the highlight. Let's not forget that One Republic hasn't had a hit song in years, and this year has had troubles just getting their latest album released. British pop starlet Mable sang last year's minor hit "Don't Call Me Up", and Sarah Hyland, who is apparently trying to launch a single career, sang something. The rest of the performers where a "who's-who-is-it?" of still up and coming performing artist, and groups from other countries who hadn't broken in this country yet. Not to mention the internet "stars" who got to perform a couple of songs. But no headlining pop stars this year.

Well, I should mention that Taylor Swift and The Jonas Brothers were there. Not as performers, but as recipients of honorary awards. Swift won this year's Icon Award, while The Jonas Brothers won the Decade Award. By the way, I checked, and not only weren't any Icon or Decade awards given out last year, but never in the history of the show. The producers just made both awards up this year. It's the old ploy. The superstar gets a guaranteed honorary award, the show gets a guaranteed superstar showing up. The Jonas Brothers appeared throughout the show, backstage and watching the videos that earned them their decade prize. Basically, while their first appearance on the award show was nine years ago, they were on the red carpet ten years ago as VIP audience members, so that counted as a decade on the broadcast. They got their award at the end of the show, and thanks to really bad time management, their speech was during the ending credits and ended just seconds before the broadcast did.

Swift's award was midway through the show, and involved her getting up from her seat in the audience to make her speech. As far as I could tell, she was only sitting with the audience in the minutes before her award was scheduled. If she had been sitting through the whole show then the director never aimed any cameras at her so we could watch her sing along to every performance. None of her famous squad members were sitting with her. In fact, the audience seemed void of any celebrities, except for the ones who mysteriously materialized in a seat just prior to winning an award. Most of the winners weren't present, and a lot of categories were not handed out on the air.

The presenters were thin of celebrities as well, mostly being web stars. Disney was able to get Robert Downey Jr. And Zendaya to appear and promote the Marvel brand, and we got at least one member of the goof cabal. The group of celebs who will show up to anything and ham up the stage for five minutes, and includes Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, Rebel Wilson, the former "The Rock", Amy Schumer and Will Ferrell. The one who showed up this year, Jack Black, to present the Jonas Brothers with their bullshit award.

The hosts, Lucy Hale and David Dobrik. Hale was formerly of the hit Family Channel show Pretty Little Liars which ended a couple of years ago. And her career hasn't taken off since. Her attempt at a singing career fizzled, and her follow up series for WB was cancelled after 13 episodes. She is currently the only celebrity willing to stand out in the rain and host the New Orleans countdown for New Years Rockin Eve, which takes place one hour after the Times Square countdown. So not much of a get as host as she would have been a couple of years ago. But at least I didn't have to look her up to find out who the hell she is. Dave Dobrik is apparently a YouTube star.

So what happened? Just last year the Teen Choice Awards were a major event. This year there was no promotion, no venue, and almost no celebrities showed up. My God, one of the performances was the male YouTube stars teaming up to sing a cover of California Girls. On a network show! Even the YouTube Awards, which was only online, booked popular recording artists rather than allowing their channel stars to perform. It's like Fox remembered the week before that there was supposed to be a Teen Choice Awards, and scrambled to get something on the air. A few years ago the MTV VMAs had sunk close to this level, and we all thought it was on it's last legs. At it's peak, the VMA ceremony ran over three hours. There was a 90 minute pre-show covering the red carpet arrivals, and an hour long post show which was really there so when the main show ran overtime it wouldn't preempt anything. but at one point the entire night shrank to a 90 minute presentation with neither pre show nor post show, and categories cut because the network wanted a hard ending by 9:30 with nothing running overtime. Much like this year's Teen Choice Awards, celebrities were thin, and padded out with cast members from MTV reality shows presenting most of the awards. But it clawed it's way back. This year has an impressive lineup of performers, including The Jonas Brothers and Taylor Swift, who wouldn't perform at the Teen Choice Awards despite winning honorary awards. The Teen Choice awards nearly took down MTVs Music Video Awards. Now it is the Teen Choice Awards that appear to be at death's door.


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