Teen Choice Awards a Mixed Bag of Morality

Ah, teenagers.  Any parent of a teen knows that the only certainty about teenage tastes in entertainment is that they are unpredictable, inconsistent and reflect the reality of teen tension: pushing parental buttons while trying to figure out exactly how far they want to stray from those same meddlesome parents.  The Teen Choice Awards, which aired Aug. 4 on Fox, is the perfect example of the dichotomy that is Teen Taste.

From the “Oh Please Say It Isn't So” category:  Gossip Girl, the ratings-challenged and steamy teen drama that regularly features story lines involving sex, drinking and drugs, won six awards, including Choice TV Show Drama.  Keep in mind these awards are based on votes by teenagers, even though CW, the network that airs the skanky show, says their target audience is 18- to 24-year-olds and they are not marketing it to younger teens.

Gossip Girl has been in the news recently because of a hyper-provocative ad campaign that uses published criticism of the show to tweak audience interest.  Tag lines like “Every Parent's Nightmare” and “Mind-Blowingly Inappropriate” are plastered over images of teens in passionate poses.  (For more on the ad campaign, click here.)

Also in the “Oh Please Say It Isn't So” category: teens gave the nod to actors in three R-rated movies.  This of course suggests that the voting teens, many of whom are presumably under 17, have seen the R-rated movies for which they voted.   Teens voted Stop Loss, the anti-Iraq war movie, Atonement and Sweeney Todd as movies featuring Choice Movie Actor, Choice Movie Actress and Choice Movie Villain respectively.  All of the other movies but one which received awards from teens were rated PG-13, including the teen-pregnancy themed Juno, and the sex-infused comedy What Happens in Vegas.  The one PG-rated movie selected by teens to receive an award was The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,

There was also good news in the music category.  Notably, the Disney pop band Jonas Gipper66

Brothers won several awards, including Choice Breakout Group.  The Jonas Brothers are a trio of siblings who are outspoken about their faith in God, proudly wear purity rings, and produce music that features clean lyrics. Their songs “When You Look Me in the Eyes” and “Burnin' Up” both won awards.

Awards for TV shows ran the gamut from the Disney Channel mega-hit Hannah Montana and Fox's ratings-dominating American Idol, to NBC's violent Heroes and MTV's reality show The Hills.

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.