It was really only a matter of time. In a music-hungry ad landscape that licenses Smashmouth’s “You Are My Number One” the very WEEK the band’s latest effort is released, wasn’t it inevitable that Digable Planets’ finger-popping 1993 single “Cool Like That” would find new life as the pitch music for laser-guided toothpicks, biggie-size Swifters, or some other must-have retail item? As it turns out, Target Corporation was the big winner, grabbing the track for a shimmering, colorful spot that seems to be about well-fitting shirts. The ad was a big part of the commercial breaks during this year’s Teen Choice Awards. But you might have to scratch the ‘breaks’ from that last sentence, since the TCAs have stopped pussy-footing around with jamming its outsized product placements and promotional plugs into the conventional framework of an awards show, choosing instead to cook everything—commercials, cross-branding, and Ashton Kutcher—inside the same silvertone coke spoon. But, you know, it has rubberized handles, so it’s safe for kids.
This year’s event broke down this way: reality television, commercials, “American Idol,” and Kutcher. The show was broadcast on and brought to us in part by the Fox network, so it’s no surprise that its stable rode victorious in many of the ‘award’ categories. Twizzled moppet Ryan Seacrest was all over the joint; that full-figured (and proud of it, dammit!) Kelly Clarkson gal performed her new single, and Emilio Estevez’ ex-wife appeared to bestow upon Kobe Bryant his ‘Choice Male Athlete’ surfboard. “The sun will rise and shine again,” a tearful Bryant said into a shrilling buzzsaw of yowling females. The raft of teen support for the embattled NBA star suggests that Radio Disney’s news reports don’t range much deeper than Aaron Carter sightings and acne free skin wash.
Nine ‘awards’ focused on reality TV, including such hotly-contested categories as ‘Choice Reality/Variety TV Star’ and ‘Choice Scariest Reality Moment.’ The latter was won by “Idol”‘s Ruben Studdard; evidently the big man’s “making the bottom three”—whatever that means—was enough drama to give freshman homerooms nationwide painful angina. But in a coup that just goes to show you the power of perfect cheekbones, old Ashton Kutcher made mince meat out of the reality categories. Adding to his ‘Choice Male Hottie’ and ‘Choice Male TV Actor, Comedy’ awards, the “That 70’s Show” star ran away with ‘Choice Reality Hunk’ and ‘Choice Reality/Variety Show Host.’ He even nabbed the ‘Choice Reality TV Moment’ award for a memorable “Punk’d” prank on Justin Timberlake. Now, the slivers of difference between a ‘Choice Male Hottie’ and a ‘Choice Reality Hunk’ are better left to discussion on those florescent cell phones that light up all crazy when someone blows your hip up. It’s not Kutcher’s fault—his talent of saying “Awesome” in the shit-eating parlance of a stoner has opened a throughway into Demi Moore’s panties. (He even escorted her daughter Scout WILLIS to the TCAs.) What’s irritating is that his ascendancy is partly responsible for mainstreaming the Hipster Bingo trucker cap. Have you ever tried to actually wear one of these ridiculous things? It makes any human not employing a stylist (i.e., any trucker) look like a fencepost holding up a lunch box. It’s only a matter of time until the godawful, webbed and foam-billed accessory finally, mercifully jumps the shark (shit, TCA host David Spade even mugged his way through a gag about that very thing.) Maybe Arnold Schwarzenegger will wear a “Wine ’em, Dine ’em, Sixty-Nine ’em” foam jobber at his next gubernatorial press conference. What does Bruce Willis think of Kutcher and his caps? Kick his ass, Sea Bass.
Personalities of every stripe dropped by for a paycheck during the TCAs. It’s plausible that Colin Farrell was there for the fine-cut teenage trim (I picked his brain with my laser-guided toothpick), but he found time to accept the ‘Choice Movie Villian’ award for his work in Daredevil. Someone slapped the dick out of Tara Reid’s mouth long enough for her to gain a few LB’s, nix the tan cream, and put on a nice Holly Hobby dress. The effect was startling. (“Who’s the third grade teacher standing with Jamie Kennedy?” my pal Professor Lip remarked.) There were “Leave It to Beaver”-themed ads for Old Navy cargo pants featuring Fran Drescher. Speaking of outdated references, Cyndi Lauper hammed it up in a weak Dr. Pepper spot that failed at resuscitating anyone’s awareness of either. Ricky Martin appeared for a half-second. Seriously, it was a half-second. In a pre-taped “backstage” interview, comedienne Wanda Sykes said “I’m here with Ricky Martin,” to which the erstwhile bon bon shaker replied “Who’s Ricky Martin?” Exactly. Ricky, unless you’re Hillary Duff’s voice coach, or Jessica Simpson’s breast coach, or Amanda Bynes’ limo driver, you’re too old for the Teen Choice Awards. And so am I. Because if the formerly cool Donnas have to run through their new single “American Bandstand” style for a bunch of teenaged Kobe supporters wearing Bongo hip huggers and cheering as much for the quartet’s smart hard rock as they did earlier for Clarkson’s wishy-washy Hot AC pap, then it’s obvious the framework really is sticking out of the trashbin out back. It used to be that bits of glinting Cool were discernable in the rice pudding of Bland. But Cool’s been killed by commercials, and that’s the new refutation of time and space in 2003.
Be sure to buy your own GLONO Trucker Hat so you can be as cool as Ashton and Avril! And give it up for Johnny, who sits through all kinds of terrible television so you don’t have to!