If there's anything in this cruel, random world we can count on, it should be the Teen Choice Awards. Seriously. Teens are pretty predictable in their tastes, not to mention vocal on social media. And indeed, the winners of Sunday's award show were blatantly popular things: Infinity War took Choice Action Movie, Zac Efron and Zendaya won Choice Movie Ship for their paring in The Greatest Showman, and Fortnite naturally took Choice Video Game. The thing is, Fortnite didn't actually get the most votes.
As the name implies, the Teen Choice Awards invites the viewers themselves to vote. Social media plays a huge role in the voting process, at least according the official Twitter account for the award show. Each entry gets its own tweet, and viewers are called upon to retweet in support of their choice. In the example below, voters are literally told to "RETWEET to make Fire Emblem Heroes the Choice Video Game Winner."
The way that reads, it seems like whichever game gets the most retweets wins, doesn't it? That's what the Fire Emblem Heroes fandom was counting on. The most dedicated players of the game, a mobile title based on Nintendo's strategy RPG franchise, rallied to muster as many retweets as they could. There were several posts on the game's subreddit urging fans to weigh in. As the Teen Choice Awards began to air, these diehards had managed to gather 6,500 retweets.
Fortnite barely made 600.
The other nominated games, such as Breath Of Wild and Overwatch, didn't even reach 300 retweets. As the Teen Choice Awards began to air, Fire Emblem fans tuned in and awaited announcement of their victory. They waited, and waited, and nothing happened. Reddit user Foxocommando brought it up on the Fire Emblem Heroes subreddit. Did they miss it? No, several commenters pointed out, the announcement was never made on the broadcast. The result was announced off-screen, recorded by websites like E! Fortnite won.
Then came the complains, questions, and disappointment. Some users did research to find out why their votes were ignored. A user by the name of PegaponyPrince found this image from the Teen Choice Award's end credits:
"Ultimate choice was determined solely by the producers" is the key information here. For all the calls to action on social media, the viewers aren't really choosing who wins the awards. That right is reserved for the producers.
This isn't even the first time this has happened. A story from the Washington Post back in 2014 chronicles how Vine star Cameron Dallas outed the Teen Choice Awards for being rigged. Dallas admitted that he was told six days in advance that he won, even though the Twitter "voting" was still ongoing. "It’s funny how they told me I won the viner award 6 days before the voting ended and made the runners up still vote to tweet for them," he wrote.
The conclusion Dallas drew then, and the one the Fire Emblem Heroes fanbase is facing now, is that the votes never mattered. The only reason the Teen Choice Awards asks for tweets is to get fans to promote the show.
It's enough to make one wonder if teens really are so predictable. Is there more to the age group then Marvel, cute ships, and Fortnite? Are guys in suits unfairly pigeonholing teens based on a few trending hashtags the way they do millennials? Or maybe it's simply 20-something Fire Emblem fans trying to brigade a teen event and failing. One thing's for certain: choices were made at the Teen Choice Awards, but teens weren't the ones making them.