Why It Matters That The Teen Choice Awards Are Rigged

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Now that the furore has died down, the damning hashtag has stopped trending and the anger over recent revelations regarding the Teen Choice Awards has dissipated somewhat, it feels like the right time to look at why the whole thing kicked off in the first place. So, the TCAs haven’t been totally honest with their young audience, taking their votes without actually counting them and urging nominees to play along but, in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter?

Well, yes it does. I’d argue it matters a great deal.

It all kicked off earlier in the month when ‘Choice Viner’ Cameron Dallas tweeted the truth to the world. He had been told six days previously that he had won, yet the runner ups in the category were “made” to continue urging their own fans and followers to keep voting for them.

Another nominee in the same category, Matthew Espinosa, later tweeted: “Basically they picked the people almost 6 days before voting was done and used all of us for promotion.
“Don’t worry guys, there will be other award shows where your hard work on voting will count. Once again, thank you for everything.”

This led many to refer to the website’s fine print, which cited: “Teenasaurus Rox reserves the right to choose the winner from the top four vote generators.”

That’s when the #TeensDontHaveaChoiceAwards began getting some traction, and soon it had taken over Twitter. Voters were understandably angry about this bit of news, considering they were the ones who had been played by the scheme along with the winners and losers in each category, and it’s hard to think how the long-running awards show can recover from the loss of trust.

As far back as 2013, Perez Hilton theorised that the winners at the TCAs each year really depended on who could attend on the night, ensuring the best show possible. This obviously didn’t extend to One Direction in 2014, who were caught wearing the same outfits they had previously been spotted in at their perfume launch a week earlier. In the age of Tumblr, they really should have known better.

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But any serious conversation around the issue faded away before it even got started, which is indicative of another problem in the industry. Back in June, Pretty Little Liars star Troian Bellisario decides enough was enough via an article in The Hollywood Reporter, speaking her mind about why the Emmys and other awards shows shouldn’t dismiss teen dramas just because of their high school setting or target demographic, and she was right.

She pointed to the reason we watch and love television in the first place – truths. The best shows get to some truth that we can understand or empathize with. At the end of the day, it’s not about high production values or getting the biggest movies stars, and teen dramas arguably have just as much right to be considered for awards as HBO and Showtime’s finest. It’s a perspective that doesn’t get much exposure, but Bellisario was in the best position to raise the issue.

So, the Teen Choice Awards were supposed to be different, more inclusive, and to discover that they’re playing by exactly the same rules as everyone else is a huge betrayal. It doesn’t matter who was the best or who was the favourite – it’s decided by a very limited group of people with a much smaller variety of tastes than the voters; the young teens asked for the opinions.

The awards at the TCAs aren’t labelled ‘Best Actress’ or ‘Best Actor’, they’re prefixed with the label ‘Choice’ – indicating that this is somehow different, and that the young viewers (who, let’s not forget, make up a hugely significant portion of the worldwide television audience) will be able to see their favorites win an award for their work that year. They’ll certainly be ignored at the more prestigious ceremonies taking place later in the year, so this is effectively their only chance.

Taking that choice away from them is one thing, but lying to them about it is an entirely new low. At least the truth is out, but I think a rebranding is in order.