Youth Culture Window
This is the time of year where youth culture seeps out from multiple media reservoirs, the most blatant being last weekend's MTV Video Music Awards and last month's Teen Choice Awards. Jonathan gives us his annual "2 cents" on these shows and what these barometers are reading about youth culture today.
I remember the first time I saw the Solid Gold Dancers when I was a kid. I was like someone tasting his first menthol throat lozenge "with vapor action"... tingling all over.
Some of you are way too young to even remember the sexually charged dancers from the 80's pop music TV show Solid Gold. But those of us who grew up during the television era of The A-Team and The Greatest American Hero remember it well.
Solid Gold is Mr. Rogers by today's standards.
MTV, Fox, and even The ABC Family Channel (we talked about that quite a bit on our recent podcast) are reaching new levels when it comes to pushing the censorship line. Hollywood acts as if "censorship" is a bad word, an enemy of true artistic expression. Meanwhile, our kids are growing up watching basic TV programming with the kind of action once reserved for strip clubs. Two of the main sources of this kind of elicit programming are two of the top shows viewed by teenagers each year: The MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) and Fox's Teen Choice Awards. These shows not only give us a glimpse into youth culture, they provide a good sampling of the content in today's music, music videos and movies.
MTV VMAs TRULY VISITING SIN CITY
They say this is MTV's first year in sin city... but I think they've "been there" for years.
Sin City-that's Las Vegas-the location of this year's MTV VMAs. And as a parent of a teen, a tween and an elementary school kid... I really wish what happened in Vegas would just stay in Vegas. But unfortunately MTV did the honor of projecting it out to TV sets around the world for all to see.
It always has and it always will.
I guess I didn't expect less from MTV, but somehow they always manage to drop my jaw during the airing of this show annually. That's their goal. Give the audience what they want. TV reality show The Hill's Audrina Patridge summarized it well about satisfying her fans, "They love it, so that's all that matters."
So that's what MTV provided: plenty of racy performances for the pleasures of the eyes and ears. Although this year, the show was more like a raging party taking over Vegas' The Palms Hotel with televised concert parties in different suites throughout the building. 50 Cent and Justin Timberlake's party came complete with dancers (I'm being nice-really these were strippers with a little bit of clothes on) dancing around poles. There was no shortage of females literally gyrating their merchandise throughout the show (sad what MTV has allowed women to become-sex objects). The Foo Fighters party was complete with beer bong drinking fans smattered throughout the crowd.
Main stage wasn't much different. The show opened with a highly anticipated performance from Brittany Spears performing her new song "Gimme" wearing a skimpy sequined bikini. Her dance featured some moves straight out of a Pussycat Doll audition, with back up dancers groping her body and pole dancers (yes, also on main stage) doing moves that left rapper 50 Cent gazing with his mouth open.
Minutes later a commercial offered the ringtone with the voice from Brittany's song saying, "It's Brittany bitch." Might as well capitalize on the words from the song she just performed.
Less than 10 minutes into the show the raunchy Sarah Silverman did an encore of her MTV Movie Awards' performance, spouting off truly R-rated onslaughts of various stars in the audience. "Have you seen her kids?" Sarah asked about Brittany. "They are the most adorable mistakes I've ever seen. They are as cute as the hairless vagina they came out of. They're like this..." Sarah turned her head sideways and stretched her lips out, doing her best impression of the female genitalia.
Offended? Good. Because at the last few Christian camps I spoke at I surveyed the audience and the overwhelming majority of our Christian kids watch MTV regularly, probably giggling at that very joke last Sunday night.
Do you think parents really know what's on this channel?
After Justin Timberlake won male artist of the year he returned to his party suite to sing "Ayo Technology" with 50 Cent. This video, which was actually shown unedited on MTV during its daytime video programming the week prior, is the closest I have ever seen to porn without actual nudity. The performance at the awards wasn't much better. The pole dancers did their thing while the crowd partied and sang the lyrics with Justin and 50:
She's so much more than you're used to
She knows just how to move to seduce you
She gone do the right thing and touch the right spot
Dance in you're lap till you're ready to pop...
I'm tired of using technology, why don't you sit down on top of me
I'm tired of using technology, I need you right in front of me
Ooh, she wants it. Uh uh, she wants it. Ooh, she wants it... I've gotta give it to her...
A few minutes later they showed 50 Cent on the same stage singing his song "In the Club." It was actually humorous. The "censor guy" had to silence out so many curse words that it sounded like a technical glitch or skipping record. I was wondering, "Why even show this performance?" People were missing more than they were hearing.
The "censor guy" must have been busy this year with all the language that had to be edited. He actually missed a beat, allowing Jamie Foxx to slip out the word "sh**" on live television.
I don't think many people noticed.
The commercials offer another glimpse at the quality of programming MTV provides. Maxim Magazine's model Tila Tequila's new MTV reality show was advertised where she invites 16 gorgeous lesbians and 16 gorgeous straight guys for a battle of the sexes. The commercial shows her confessing that she is a bisexual and the goal of this show apparently is for her to discover which sex she liked better. The commercial alone showed enough skin and sensuality (lesbians making out) to rival late night Cinemax. It will most definitely be a hit among teenagers. Commercials for other MTV shows like The Real World and The Hills didn't offer a much better alternative.
Beyond all the raucous content, I bet most musicians and artists were disappointed with this year's talent... or lack there of. Musically, I only enjoyed two artists: Alicia Keys and Rhianna-maybe because they were two of the few that actually sang instead of doing a Milli Vanilli into the Microphone.
But I must also admit that I enjoyed Chris Brown's dancing. This young guy is one to watch. They are already comparing him to Michael Jackson and Usher. He's a talented young man.
What can we expect from MTV in the future?
Good question. Rewind to the beginning of the show where Brittany answered that question... almost confessing the answer in the lyrics to her song Gimme. The last line says it all:
Cameras are flashing while we're dirty dancing
They keep watchin' (Wait)
(Feel's like the crowd is saying)
Gimme gimme more
Gimme gimme more
Gimme gimme more
Gimme gimme more
I just can't control myself, oh
They want more? Well I'll give'em more, oh!
TEEN CHOICE AWARDS... OR... MORE APPROPRIATELY "TWEEN"
I have one overwhelming complaint about the Teen Choice Awards-the content doesn't match the audience.
The content is often profane- and the audience is literally filled with teens, tweens and children. It's a known fact that the awards are marketed in teen venues attracting not only teens, but every little kid desperately wanting to grow up faster than their little bodies ever dreamed. Many of the Teen Choice Award presenters comment about the audience's age. This year Justin Long even referred to the crowd as "pre-pubescent."
The audience's age wouldn't be a problem if this was an episode of Disney's Hanna Montana or a screening of a new Sponge Bob movie. But I can't help but wonder if parents really know what goes on behind the doors of the Teen Choice Awards with role models like Snoop Dog, Fergie, The Shop Boyz and the cast of the new R-rated hormone infested film Superbad who were plugging their film to an audience that couldn't even get into the theatre without Mommy or Daddy. (It was quite a glimpse into the success of Superbad's marketing efforts to kids. The cast simply introduced themselves as, "We're here from the new blockbuster hit Superbad." And then we saw hundreds of 8 through 12 year olds erupt into screaming applause.)
I must confess that my hopes were high this year when I found out the awards were to be hosted by Nick Cannon and Hilary Duff (a little more innocent than last year's Dane Cook). But it didn't take long for the show to digress to the typical raunch it provides annually. Just minutes into a fairly creative sketch-a take off of A High School Musical-a costumed "mascot" began humping the leg of one of the dancers. As the sketch progressed... er... regressed, the same mascot continued its antics behind an old lady that was dancing, slapping her thighs while he thrusted her rear. Kindly the camera quickly cut away from the scene.
Then the show actually cleaned up for the next hour or so; although we definitely weren't denied cleavage shots from various Disney Channel children's show stars like Halie Duff and Hanna Montona's Miley Cyrus. (But I guess the world hasn't been denied much from Disney child stars lately, have they?)
As the show continued we saw typical "Teen Choice" phenomenon occur: kids voting for shows that they shouldn't have watched in the first place. This year's winners included Desperate Housewives, Knocked Up, and Superbad.
Award presenter Dane Cook couldn't restrain himself again this year, causing Fox to censor out one of his jokes. All we heard was him saying, "When I laugh too hard, my CENSOR wiggle! They wiggle!"
The icing on the cake was the closing act by Shop Boyz singing their hit song, Party like a Rockstar. Kids gathered around the stage screaming and lifting their hands up to these lyrics, prompting a "re-word" or two and another CENSOR from Fox:
I'm on a money making mission
But I party like a rockstar
Flyin' down 20 lookin' good in my hot car
You know them hoes be at my show
Worried 'bout where my chain go
I uh rubba in ma pants
But these hoes won't let my CENSOR go
I uwa like I uwa
'Cause you know them hoes be trying us
Hoe don't you know I f*** (reword: mess) with fine dimonds
That look like Pa-me-la
They fine and they hot bra
When I'm in the spot bra......
I PARTY LIKE a ROCKSTAAARRR!!!!!!
Again... where are the parents of these kids?
If you're a youth worker, what can you do when you know that our kids are absorbing this kind of content from their iPods, TVs and computers?
I asked the same question in the article I wrote last year in response to these same two award shows. This article revealed a "common denominator" present in the struggles of many teenagers today and provided four essentials our ministries can provide in this X-rated world.
CLICK HERE FOR THAT ARTICLE PROVIDING
FOUR ESSENTIALS YOUR MINISTRY CAN KEEP PROVIDING
, 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
CLICK HERE FOR MORE
CLICK HERE FOR MORE