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And the Winner Is…
The 2008 Teen Choice Awards Preview
An article from David R. Smith at

At 8:00pm EST on August 4th, millions of teens, tweens, and let’s be honest…young kids, too, will be sitting in front of their TV’s watching The 2008 Teen Choice Awards on FOX, the show that twice topped the Parents Television Council’s “Worst Family TV Show of the Week.”

Viewers have high expectations of the show’s 10th Anniversary, and as a youth worker, here’s why you shouldn’t miss it.

Crash Course in Youth Culture (Emphasis on the “Crash”)
Since its debut in 1999 with host Britney Spears, The Teen Choice Awards (TCA) has been “must see TV” for youth workers across America. It’s one of the three shows each year that gives a fantastic glimpse of today’s youth culture. The other two are the MTV Movie Awards and MTV Video Music Awards (better known as the VMAs).

The sad fact is, this show is pumping (or dare I say “pimping”) adult content to kids. Our own Jonathan McKee said it well in his article about the show last year:
    “I can't help but wonder if parents really know what goes on behind the doors of the Teen Choice Awards with role models like Snoop Dog, Fergie, The Shop Boyz and the cast of the new R-rated hormone infested film Superbad who were plugging their film to an audience that couldn't even get into the theatre without Mommy or Daddy.”
The show’s content is always a little risqué, and many of the celebs featured are probably the last people parents would select as role models for their kids.

But the Teen Choice Awards is always a hit. The show allows teens (or anybody who logs onto their website) to vote as many times as they want on a huge collection of entertainment-based favorites including movies, TV shows, music, fashion, and more. Just as they boast, the show lets teens share “their choice and their voice.”

Miley on the Mic
Always hosted by a high profile celebrity (or two), 2008 is no exception. After earning a whopping $18 million in 2007, Miley Cyrus (aka Hannah Montana) will be MC’ing the event. Past hosts include Paris and Nicole in 2004, and Dane Cook (complete with jokes about his anatomy) with Jessica Simpson in 2006.

Since its inception, and because it airs every summer, the show awards life-size surfboards as trophies to those voted “Choice” (best) by teens. In addition to the regular categories like “Choice Movies” and “Choice Music Single,” the TCA has also included more interesting categories like “Choice Liplock,” “Choice Slut,” and “Choice Hottie,” in years past. Here’s a brief look at just a few of the categories being voted on this year:
    Movie – Kids can vote for movies like Superbad, Prom Night, Semi-Pro and Sex and the City (as it’s not uncommon to see R-rated films in the line-up). You’ll see a few creative categories that are unique to the TCA, like “Choice Movie Bromantic Comedy” and “Choice Movie Chick Flick.”

    TV – In this award category shows like Desperate Housewives, Gossip Girl, Grey’s Anatomy, and Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious are in the running. You’ll see awards like “Choice TV Celebrity Reality,” “Choice TV Looking for Love,” and “Choice TV Villain.”

    Music – Kids can vote for artists like Flo Rida, Beyonce, T-Pain, Fergie and Usher. Among the 13 different options in this category are “Choice Music Artist” both male and female, “Choice Music Love song,” and “Choice Hook-Up,” (with Madonna and Justin Timberlake’s “4 Minutes to Save the World” in the hunt).

    Summer & Other Stuff - In these two catch all categories, teens can select everything from their favorite “Choice Male/Female Athlete” and “Choice Comedian” to the celebrity with the “most fanatic fans” and celebrity who is the best “MySpacer.” (Katy Perry, now famous for kissing a girl, is in the running for best MySpacer.)

    (Click here for a list of all the nominees in all categories.)
And TCA knows that no awards show is complete without high energy introductions, pyrotechnics, humorous parodies, and live, in-show concerts. Expect to see Mariah Carey, the Jonas Brothers, and several others on TCA’s stage this year.

Vetoing the Vote
But not everybody is excited about the TCA each year. As we mentioned before, twice it has topped the “Worst Family TV Show of the Week,” a list generated by the Parents Television Council. Hardly a year goes by without this conservative watchdog group getting upset with the show’s producers for crowning R-rated films as the winners in the movie category, and songs littered with sexual lyrics in the music categories. Their argument: teens aren’t even old enough to get into these movies at the theater, or buy the music at stores.

Good point.

Sadly, many of your teens will watch the show, even though the on stage antics may be counterproductive to parents’ standards and your teaching. Even sadder, it’s their consumption of these kinds of media that has nominated the artists and actors for these awards. So, how do you deal with this annual glorification of ungodliness?

  1. Youth workers, get your parents’ help! No, not your mom and dad…theirs! It’s tough to constantly warn teenagers about the dangers of pre-marital sex, controlled substances and the like, when it’s being pumped into their minds via celebrities and media. Invite your teens’ parents to watch the show; that way, they can finally “meet” this generation’s cultural influencers. The 2 hour “ceremony” will provide parents a glimpse of their kids’ role models. Then you can provide parents with information (lyrics sites, Jonathan’s blogs about the charts or lyrics, etc.) about these artists that will help them decide who makes the cut for their kids’ video iPods…and who doesn’t. (For example: since Mariah Carey will be there, give parents a sample of her typical content.)

  2. Get some background on teen award shows…especially if this is your first! has followed the Teen Choice Awards and MTV’s Video Music Awards and Movie Awards for years. Oftentimes, the content of these shows is shocking. Here are Jonathan’s recaps of the 2006 Teen Choice Awards, the 2007 Teen Choice Awards and MTV VMAs, and the 2008 MTV Movie Awards. You may need to be sitting down.

  3. Look for our follow up article from the 2008 TCA. On Tuesday, August 5th, we will have a rant…I mean review…of the Teen Choice Awards show for anybody who didn’t TiVo it. Like all of our other Youth Culture Window articles, you’ll be welcome to forward it to parents as well.

As youth workers striving to minister in such a fluid culture today, it’s imperative that we acknowledge these influences, and at the same time, continue to teach the standards of godliness Jesus expects of us. Keep doing what you’re doing. It matters.

David R. Smith David R. Smith is a 15-year youth ministry veteran who helps youth workers and parents through his writing, training, and speaking. David specializes in sharing the gospel, and equipping others do the same. He co-authored his first book this year, Ministry By Teenagers. David provides free resources to anyone who works with teenagers on his website, David resides with his wife and son in Tampa, Florida.

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