My 2011 VMA Moment: Kids Pay Tribute to Britney Spears

I missed the 2011 VMA’s on MTV this year because the power was out from Hurricane Irene.  Honestly, though, I wasn’t upset about it or disappointed.  As a youth pastor I believe it’s important to be aware of what’s going on in pop culture that so many teenagers are consumer on a regular basis, but I also feel the struggle of wanting to protect myself from watching/listening to what can best be classified as “garbage.”

Then yesterday when I was home flipping through the channels I noticed MTV was replaying the VMA’s and watched about ten minutes of it.  In those ten minutes I saw Lady Gaga dressed up as a man (and really pulled off the look so well it was just strange) and the tribute to Britney Spears.

Aside from the awkwardness of Gaga and Spears’ interactions, what stood out to me most was that the girls who performed the dance routine which reenacted scenes from Spears’ most famous videos were kids.  MTV’s website even boasts, “Kids Pay Tribute to Britney Spears with Dance Medley.”  None of them looked older than 16 (maybe!), but some of them looked like they could’ve been 10!  Watching these young girls dancing to such heavily sexualized songs in outfits that propelled Spears into the spotlight for her sexuality just felt wrong.  Honestly, my heart was (and still is) sad for those girls.  They are being fed the message that their body is their key to success.

Girls, you are more than sex objects.  You are valued and precious no matter what you look like, because God made you in His image.  Your worth is not determined by what size you wear or what your hair looks like.

Parents, talk to your kids about healthy sexuality.  Don’t just have “the talk,” have talks on a regular basis, because your kids are seeing and hearing sexual messages all the time.  Set up parameters and guidelines that limit what your kids watch on tv, visit online, play on the video game console.  Take an active role in helping your teenager (not just girls, but boys too!) grow a healthy and biblical view of sexuality.

Kids are being exposed to sexual content earlier and earlier, don’t wait so long to have uncomfortable conversations that you’re playing catch-up and you don’t even know it.

Leave a comment below: What are some other ways you’ve noticed sexualization targeting kids who are younger and younger?

MTV Special Report on Abortion

MTV has followed teenage girls who have gotten pregnant through their series, “16 And Pregnant.”  In a new special report they will follow one young woman who has already been featured in 16 and Pregnant and then got pregnant again.  According to Entertainment Weekly:

“The special, airing Dec. 28 at 11:30 p.m., will follow one former 16 and Pregnant subject, Markai, as she wrestles with the decision after becoming pregnant for a second time. Dr. Drew Pinsky will also talk with young women who, like 27 percent of teens who end up with unplanned pregnancies, have chosen to end them. MTV sources say the documentary will tackle all sides of the issue, including the importance of contraception and the devastating effects of facing such a decision.”

In some ways I think this is great because this is a very serious issue that deserves honest treatment, but I simply do not trust MTV to paint an accurate portrayal of the aftermath of such a decision.  It’s one thing to follow someone leading up to this decision, it’s another to walk with them and talk to them about it in the following years.  Biblical viewpoints aside, the effects of abortion are devastating on both the woman and the baby’s father (if he knows).

I’m not writing this distanced from the issue: people I know and love and really care about have had an abortion (or their girlfriend did).  One woman told me that every time she sees a girl who would be the same age as her aborted daughter a little piece of her heart begins to cry.  Guys aren’t the ones who get pregnant, but they also endure much loss over the abortion too.

Ben Folds Five wrote a beautiful yet melancholy song about his girlfriend having an abortion the day after Christmas while his parents were away.  Songfacts.com has a great writeup on this song and quotes Ben Folds as saying,

“People ask me what this song’s about… I was asked about it a lot, and I didn’t really wanna make a big hairy deal out of it, because I just wanted the song to speak for itself. But the song is about when I was in high school, me and my girlfriend had to get an abortion, and it was a very sad thing. And, I didn’t really want to write this song from any kind of political standpoint, or make a statement. I just wanted to reflect what it feels like. So, anyone who’s gone through that before, then you’ll know what the song’s about.”

MTV’s Newest Show: “Skins”

Over the past few days I’ve noticed banners and advertisements about “Skins” and had no idea what it was about.  This morning I looked more carefully at one of the banners online and noticed that the MTV logo was on it, so I did a little research and here’s what I’ve found.

Skins is an upcoming show (starts in January 2011) based off a UK show of the same name.  Even doing a basic Google Image search for “MTV Skins” reveals binge drinking, sexuality, and homosexuality.  Here’s the description of the show provided on their website, skins.tv:

SKINS is a wild ride through the lives of nine high school friends stumbling through the mine field of adolescence… and stepping on most of the mines as they go. Be it sex, drugs, the breadth of friendships or the depth of heartbreaks, SKINS is an emotional mosh-pit that slams through the insanity of teenage years.

The kids of SKINS will crush hearts and burn brain cells, while fearlessly confronting every obstacle head on… or slightly off.

Sounds great, just what we need to be putting in front of teenagers: Another example of the glorified “wild ride” of adolescence filled with drugs and alcohol and sex.

Parents: Talk to your teenager about shows like this (talk, don’t lecture!) and ask them why they think shows like this are so attractive to their peers.  Encourage them to be thoughtful in working through the message the show is communicating.  If you really want to be edgy, check out the website (or, if you talk to your son/daughter after the show has premiered, watch it with him/her and discuss it afterwards and empower your teenager to decide whether or not they really think they should continue watching).

Teens: How would you answer the questions above?  Why do you think MTV keeps producing shows like this?  What message are these shows communicating to you?  Do you realize that these shows are influencing your peers (and you) in your views about drugs and alcohol and sexuality?

Here is the link to the show’s promo video on YouTube.  I’ve chosen not to embed the video here because it does include plenty of skin, sexuality, alcohol & drug use, and other sins that the Apostle Paul lists in Colossians 3.  Consider yourself warned if you choose to click the above link to watch the promo video (keeping in mind that many teens will be watching the show, which will be far more racy than the promo!).

Colossians 3:1-10
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is youra life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.  You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.  But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.  Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

MTV Movie Awards are Total Filth

A short post today, but I couldn’t leave the office before getting just SOME of my thoughts out there about the Movie Awards:

  1. I didn’t watch them (I watched maybe 5 minutes, but that was 4 minutes too long!).  That being said, much of what I have to say here is based off the short amount I did watch and off of what others have written about it that I’ve read.
  2. Many “Youth Culture Experts” encourage Youth Pastors and Parents to only watch MTV twice a year: to watch the MTV Movie Awards and the MTV Music Awards.  The reasoning is that these two “award shows” set the stage for much of the media-consumption that our teenagers are constantly gorging on.  This year, I’ve decided that I’m respectfully not taking these experts’ advice anymore because I don’t need to put that garbage in my mind.  Why watch what I’m telling my students not to watch… there are other ways of keeping in touch with youth culture that I’ll take advantage of that won’t expose me to that garbage
  3. You should know you’ve gone too far when one of the people accepting an award comments and the insane amount of “F-Bombs” being dropped during the show

For a very thorough (perhaps a bit TOO thorough) evaluation on the 2010 MTV Movie Awards click this link here, but be warned there are some images and quotes from the night that might be deemed “inappropriate” by some more conservative Christians (I feel the need to warn you about a Christian critique of the show, consider how raunchy the show itself must’ve been!).