Youth Culture Window
I don’t think anyone could have said it more true than New Moon star Peter Facinelli at the close of the MTV Movie Awards last night when he joked, “I’ve never heard the word ‘f**k’ used so many times in one evening.”
He wasn’t kidding. Joe Pesci was covering his ears! The poor guy hitting the sensor button probably developed a callus in the first half hour!
The sad fact is, the rampant use of f-bombs was probably one of the least worrisome elements of the evening. MTV provided girl-on-girl action, oral sex gestures, penis jokes, testicle jokes… and probably the icing on the cake, Christina Aguilera singing a song about receiving oral sex, complete with a close up of a little red heart-light lit up on her crotch at the end of the performance.
I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. MTV has put themselves in a bind. Each year they try to trump the previous year, and the easiest way to do that is to push the limits even further. It’s difficult to even imagine the show 10 years from today.
Second Guessing My Own Recommendation
For years I’ve been recommending that parents and youth workers watch this show to harness just a glimpse at youth culture. I’ve said it year after year, “I only watch three of these shows a year: The MTV Movie Awards, The Teen Choice Awards, and the MTV Video Music Awards.” Those three shows alone give anyone an accurate picture of exactly what our entertainment world is marketing to today’s teenagers.
Unfortunately, that little “taste” is starting to make me a little bit ill.
Last night my wife and I were driving home when I remembered that I had to watch the show so I could write this article. I dreaded the chore. I could think of a hundred things I’d rather do.
But more than that, I am just getting tired of MTV and the CW and ABC trying desperately to target teenagers to watch their trash. It’s heartbreaking to me that adults are pimping this kind of content to our kids for one simple reason: ratings and money. Yes… it sounds like two reasons. But I assure you, they are one and the same.
Jersey Shore and Katy Perry
The show really began an hour before the show with the red carpet interviews. This year’s red carpet interview was basically a giant infomercial for MTV’s new reality show Jersey Shore, with Shore character Snooki on the mike helping MTV regulars interview the stars. In this pre-show, we got to hear Katy Perry joke about everything from doing a threesome to rumors of her performing naked. “I’m a tease,” she offered. (Hmmmmm…. I hadn’t noticed. Maybe next time she’ll admit that she’s a sellout too.)
The pre-show showed us glimpses of Katy’s racy music video with Snoop Dog, and then an exclusive, the first 10 minutes of Jersey Shore—Season Two.
Wow! I’m going to sound like my grandpa here, but, “I can’t believe they call that entertainment.” One of the characters of the show described it like this: (imagine a thick jersey accent) “Lot’s of fights, lot’s of hookups, lots of drama. One minute you got three girls in a Jacuzzi, the next minute someone’s in jail and you have to bail them out.”
The dialogue was unbelievable. Snooki is making meatballs with her new boyfriend Emilio. “How many balls do you want?” Emilio asks with a smirk.
Snooki pauses, then smiles. “Two, in my face.”
Then we’re blessed with Snooki’s keen insight about relationships.
“Me and Emilio have been together for two and a half months. I really don’t want to cheat. Like seriously, I don’t want to. But you know, if you’re going to hand me a bottle of freaking (she named a drink), something just comes over me. Like I just go crazy!”At this point, I couldn’t wait for the actual award show to begin.
The show opened with Tom Cruise reprising his role from the R-rated 2008 movie Tropic Thunder.
Uh… did I miss something? It’s 2010, isn’t it?
The fat, bald, and harry Tom Cruise character Les Grossman gave the sensor guy a run for his money in the first 60 seconds. His speech was probably summarized in these three sentences:
“See movies are nothing but a marriage of picture and sound. My job is to get those two things drunk—get them “f**cking. The illegitimate baby they make is called entertainment.”Unfortunately that wasn’t the last we saw of Cruises “Grossman” character that evening. Grossman joined us again later to dance in a traditional crotch-grabbing and hip thrusting fashion to a Ludacris song. (Yes, that’s the name of the artist, and yes, pun intended!) The opening words of the song:
Then “Grossman” began dancing with J-lo, holding a walking cane up to his crotch like a penis pointed at J-lo.
(Yeek-Yeek Woop-Woop) Why you all in my ear? Talkin' a whole bunch a sh** that I ain't tryin to hear.
Get Back! Motherf***er You don't know me like that.
Get back! Motherf***er You don't know me like that!
The host of the evening, Aziz Ansari, is a talented comedian. Unfortunately, like many talented comedians today, Aziz constantly grabs for the low hanging fruit of sexual humor and vulgarity. It was hard to watch Aziz cracking jokes about Taylor Lautner’s “nuts” when the cameraman was showing us 11-year-old Jaden Smith in the audience cracking up.
Think about that visual for a second—adults telling raunchy jokes and showing explicit material to 11-year-olds. If Jaden was walking through a park and a stranger approached him joking about testicles, erections and vaginas… my guess is that Jaden’s dad, Will Smith, might have a thing or two to say to this individual.
I wonder in the same situation if a lady came up to Jaden and started singing a song about people licking her vagina (as Christina Aguilera would do to the crowd later that evening)… I wonder how long Will would allow that to happen.
But as long as Jaden is sitting in the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, CA, and our kids are sitting in the popcorn-grease-saturated theatre seats, or on couches in front of big screen TVs… then it must be okay.
It’s obvious that MTV and parents all over the world just don’t mind this kind of content. Because if they did, they probably wouldn’t let kids watch the show. They probably wouldn’t allow their kids to vote whether the R-rated movie The Hangover is the best movie of the year.
Some of the names of the awards speak loudly to the caliber of the show. This year the show boasted the “WTF” award (Yes, that stands for “What the f**k?!”) and the “Scared as S**t Performance.” These were in addition to the traditional “Best Male Performance,” “Best Female,” and don’t forget the annual opportunity to show two girls kissing, the “Best Kiss Award.” This year Kristen Stewart actually won the award for kissing Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson, not the kiss she was also nominated for with female actress Dakota Fanning in the film Runaways.
That wasn’t the last girl on girl kiss we saw that evening. Sandra Bullock planted one on Scarlet Johansson in another awkward MTV moment. If you haven’t noticed, threesomes and girl on girl action are a pre-requisite for most entertainment today.
It’s always educational to see what commercials MTV airs throughout the Awards each year. Last year we literally got to see the blurred testicles of a skater in their “Balls Out Comedy” commercials. This year MTV didn’t hold back either. The show that probably ran the most commercials of the evening is their brand new series, The Hard Times of RJ Berger, the show about a nerdy kid that gets popular on his campus because of his big penis. The commercials made that point very clear.
But don’t worry parents. MTV also has a show with a puppet. Won’t that be neat for the children! Well, before you begin thinking “Muppets” or “Sesame Street,” remember this is MTV. MTV’s commercials for Warren the Ape revealed a puppet that we saw humping a girl in a bikini top, and we heard saying lines like, “I’m icing my balls” and “I do! I do love porn!” (We’ve come a long way since Mr. Rogers.)
Then there’s Jersey Shore.
The evening featured two musical performances. One from a duo made in heaven, Katy Perry and Snoop Dog, singing their number one hit California Gurls. It’s hard to even explain this performance in print. At first glance the lyrics don’t look explicit:
Bikinis on top
Will melt your popsicle
But add Perry’s lewd hand gestures to lyrics like “melt your popsicle,” and you’ve got an entirely new meaning. Maybe that’s why Entertainment Weekly called this a “raunchified rendition (check the hand motions!) of the new official song of the summer.”
Just when I thought that the evening couldn’t get any worse, Christina Aguilera performed a montage of some of her hits. Her performance was so across the line it’s difficult to verbalize. It started with her typical provocative dancing and thrusts. But apparently this wasn’t enough. After all, think what we’ve seen from other artists of late (Adam Lambert? Britney?). Several times Christina’s dancers dropped down and groped her leg, licking it. One of her male dancers even licked upward towards her crotch. As if this wasn’t enough, she then broke out in a song about licking her “Woohoo,” a song titled (I kid you not) “Woohoo.” Here’s a peek at the lyrics:
You Know You Really Wanna (HEY) , Wanna Taste My
It was almost comedy watching what MTV chose to edit from those lyrics. After all, none of the words are cusswords. But even MTV realized that this song would be overboard. So they simply bleeped out the words, “Wanna Taste My.”
You Know You Wanna Get a Peak Wanna See My
You Know You Wanna Put Your Lips Where my Hips Are , Kiss On My , All Over My…
Ironically, MTV had no problem zooming in on Christina’s crotch at the end of the performance, where she had a glowing red heart-shaped light in front of her… dare I say Whoohoo?
The evening didn’t end with Christina. I haven’t even mentioned Mark Walberg simulating sodomy with Will Farrell, or the guy from The Hangover giving thanks to voters from his penis. It was one over-the-top moment after the next.
This is nothing new.
We’ve been here before. Mankind loves to do things their own way instead of God’s way. That’s sin, in a nutshell: when we do things our way instead of His way. And sooner or later we start suffering the consequences of our behavior…unless someone tells us the truth, and we respond to it.
I love the Bible passage in I Kings, Chapter 22. An eight-year-old named Josiah became king. The Bible describes him as “doing right in the eyes of the LORD.” “Not turning aside to the right or to the left.”
In this moving story, this young king grows up and sends his secretary to the temple of the LORD on an errand. The secretary and the high priest stumbled upon a book while on this errand—the Book of the Law. They bring the book back to the king and read it.
Josiah’s eyes are opened!
When Josiah read the Book of the Law—the stories about God and His people—he literally tore his clothes in despair, realizing how bad things had become. In Chapter 23 this young king started cleaning house. He began removing false gods that had crept their way into the temple. He got rid of the prostitutes. He got rid of the sexually explicit artifacts that they used to worship other gods. Josiah saw the truth and he cleaned house!
Parents in 2010 need to do two things: they need to hear the truth, and they need to clean house.
We need to all be about sharing the truth. In Deuteronomy, Chapter 6 God told us to “remember these things” and tell them to our children. He went on to tell us to talk about these things when we wake up, when we go to bed, when we walk along the road… you get the idea.
In America, not only have we stopped talking to our children about God’s truth, we are letting them watch Jersey Shore and listen to Christina Aguilera.
It’s time to clean house.
, president of The Source for Youth
Ministry, is the author of numerous books including the new
Should I Just Smash My Kid's Phone?
, and youth ministry books like
Ministry By Teenagers
Connect: Real Relationships in a
World of Isolation
, and the award winning book
Do They Run When They See You Coming?
speaks and trains
at conferences, churches and events across North
America, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his
. You can follow Jonathan on
, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help.
Jonathan and his wife Lori, and their three teenagers Alec, Alyssa and Ashley live
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