MTV Top 10 Artists… Not quite Role Models

Posted on: 01/31/08 9:16 AM | by Jonathan McKee

MTV’s front page features their list of Most Popular Artists. (And let me assure you… regardless where MTV gets that list from, it is a self fulfilling prophecy. Sad fact, but MTV is youth culture today.) The question is… how many of these artist would you want mentoring your kids?

Probably very few of them.

But the “artists” on this list are the people kids are listening to. Let’s take a peek at some of them.

The list features Li’l Wayne in the #1 spot. Little Wayne was in the news again this week when he was booked on three felony drug charges in Yuma, AZ on Jan. 23.

Britney Spears is #2 on the list. She was rushed to the hospital this morning (Thursday, January 31) on another “5150” hold for mental-health evaluation. Her song Peice of Me is currently #18 on Billboard’s Hot 100 right now, and the #9 most downloaded song on iTunes. Her risque music video is the sixth most downloaded music video on iTunes right now.

Soulja Boy Tell’em has the #4 spot. Check out my blog a couple days ago for more about how schools are inadvertantly helping him become a role model for your elementry school kids.

Akon was in the news again last year when he was charged for tossing a 15-year-old fan into the crowd. Akon has had numerous hits, one of the most popular being Smack That.  Hmmmmmm. Earlier in 2007 Akon got himself into trouble in Trinidad when he pulled a girl onto the stage and proceeded to simulate sex with her as well as a few minutes of other crude dancing. The young girl was only 15 years old.

This list of artists goes on.

The interesting fact is that today’s kids don’t seemed worried about song lyrics or the character of the person singing the song. I think a 14-year-old girl summed up this generation’s feeling well in her blog when she heard what Soulja Boy’s “Superman” song meant.

I love this song, and i dont really care what the lyrics mean. 😛


Baptist Pick-up Lines

Posted on: 01/30/08 3:48 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Some of you might be familiar with a little Christian publication called the Wittenburg Door. (I warn you- They have always been a little edgy… ) 

I almost fell out of my chair with some of their “Hardcore Baptist Pick-up Lines.”

A few of them:

I’m sure glad your mama was pro-life.

Let’s go back to my place—I’ve got the complete VeggieTales.

Baby, you’re like a burning bush. I feel like Moses, all I want is a glimpse of the Promised Land.

You look like the whore of Babylon—and I mean that in a good way.

You look like Ruth from the Bible. She was a Christian—at least she would have been if she was born a few hundred years later. Are you a Christian? Because I only court Christians, and I’m very interested in courting you if your father says it’s okay.

Hey, babe, if you were the mission, then I’d be a missionary.

The whole list is here… (some a little too irreverant for my taste)

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Soulja Boy Up In “the What?!!”

Posted on: 01/29/08 12:39 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Soulja Boy up in da ho.

That’s how the song starts. The song rode the #1 spot on Billboard and iTunes for months in the Fall… and just when I thought the hype was over… they are now teaching the dance as part of the curriculum in PE classes at several Sacramento area schools.

Let me back up for a moment and catch some of you up with this whole situation (For those that didn’t hear the discussion on our Podcast Episode #9).

Soulja Boy is a hip hop artist whose song “Crank That” (The “Superman” song) not only rode the #1 spot for what seemed like an eternity in the Fall of 2007, but the song has it’s own dance. Elementry school kids and tweens are the biggest fans of the dance. Ask an 8-12 year old in your neighborhood, they probably all know the “Superman” dance. And schools that play music during lunch time almost all play the “clean” version of this song.

So what’s all the concern?

Here’s the first few lines of the song:

Soulja Boy up In da ho
Watch Me Crank It
Watch Me Roll
Watch Me Crank Dat Soulja Boy
den Super Man Dat ho

Lyrics vary a little bit depending on where you look (because they’re pretty hard to understand). Personally, I’m not excited about any song that talks about being “up in da ho.” Yeah… that does mean what you think that means. But funny as it is… most people aren’t that concerned about that (after all, what rap song doesn’t talk about bitches and ho’s?), they are concerned about the term “superman.” And they should be. I’m not even going to define it for you. You’ll have to jump onto a slang dictionary site like and look it up here.

Yeah… pretty disgusting.

So the biggest question is, “Is that really what Soulja Boy is talking about?” After all, he was asked about it on a BET interview and he basically avoided answering the direct question saying,

“Superman is just a dance. I heard about the e-mails going around and…basically, they trying to just stop my shine,” said the 17-year old Soulja Boy. “I mean, ‘Superman,’ ‘Crank That’ [is] old.

There’s his answer. Basically, “Stop hatin.’ You’re too late!”

So what does the song mean? Does Superman mean what Urban Dictionary says it means? Well… take a peek for yourself at more of the lyrics… they might give you a clue:

Watch me crank dat roosevelt den supa soak dat ho(yuuuuuuhhh)
supa soak dat ho(supa soak dat ho)
supa soak dat ho(supa soak dat ho)
supa soak dat ho(supa soak dat ho)
supa soak dat ho(supa soak dat ho)


And whether “superman” means that or not, the song has plenty of other degrading language towards women.

im too fresh off in dis bitch
Watch me shuffle watch me jig
Watch me crank dat Soulja Boy
Den supaman dat bitch(yuuuuuhhhh)
supaman dat bitch(supaman dat bitch)
supaman dat bitch(supaman dat bitch)
supaman dat bitch(supaman dat bitch)

These lyrics are edited in the version our kids hear. They just hear “Soulja boy up in da OOOOOOOO!” And words like “bitch,” “cockin” and “sh*t” are also edited out. So, as our kids would tell us, “It’s clean Mom!”

You’ll find plenty of online discussions about this song, the meaning and whether it’s a concern or not. Some of the discussions show the ignorance (I’m not using that word as an insult, but in the true meaning of the word) of the parents and teachers encouraging the dance.

Recording companies don’t care… research shows that they just understand the fact that if the song comes with a dance, the chance of selling more music!

So, do kids know what it means?

I polled several youth pastors and compus ministry staff I knew. They all asked their kids individually about the song. The overwhelming consenses is this:

  • most elementry school kids and tweens have NO idea what the song is talking about, they just like the dance.
  • most junior highers (those that aren’t sheltered) know that Soulja Boy is talking about “Ho’s,” but they don’t know what superman means.
  • 8 out of 10 unchurched high school kids knew what superman means. (and most thought it was funny)

Last Fall if you would have asked me what to do about the situation I would have told you, “Don’t bring it up. But if kids ask about it, use it as an opportunity to talk about the issue of lyrics and their meaning.”  But now that my own 12-year-old came home from school 4 days ago and informed me that she’s learning the “superman dance” in P.E. and they played the song over and over again about 15 times during class…



Why Teenagers Like Winehouse

Posted on: 01/28/08 1:39 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Many of you saw my last post about Amy Winehouse’s recent troubles and how we can respond. The more interesting phenomenon is why teenagers aren’t critical of her, when they ARE critical of celebs like Lindsey Lohan, Paris Hilton, etc.

17 year old writer Jemina Owen chimes in with her theory in this article:

Perhaps part of her appeal is her honesty regarding her very obvious problems. So many celebrities appear to spend their lives trying to glaze over the rough patches in their lives to present a ‘clean’ image to the media – whether it be Victoria Beckham staunchly defending her ‘healthy attitude towards food and weight’ (though we’ve yet to see a photo of her tucking away a burger to put our minds at ease) or Lindsay Lohan rolling her Bambi eyes and moaning at how the press portray her as some kind of ‘wild girl’ when in fact she likes nothing more than a cup of tea and a good book.

Winehouse, on the other hand, makes no attempt to cover up the mess her life is in, and you only have to read the pitiful interviews with her father to gain an uncomfortable amount of insight into the heartache that drug addiction, an eating disorder and a husband locked away in prison bring to her loving parents who wonder where on earth they went wrong.

Honestly, I don’t think any of us would want to swap our lives for Winehouse’s. But maybe at times teenagers feel they can relate to some aspect of Winehouse’s plight – whether they be going out with a guy Dad can’t stand, or desperate to persuade Mum that a tattoo doesn’t screw up your chances of getting a decent job. However big a mess Winehouse makes of things, hundreds of messages of support from her fans reinforce that there are still people rooting for her. For teens, it’s a comforting message in a world that can often seem unforgiving – no matter how much you screw up, there will still be people who want you to shine.

Two observations:

  1. Authenticity is huge with this generation.
  2. Forgiveness is still something that people seek today. Jesus seemed to “reek” forgiveness and people sought Him out. What do we reek of?

… something to consider as we try to reach out to this generation.

(thanks to Anastasia for the link)

Amy Winehouse Goes to Rehab

Posted on: 01/25/08 10:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

You’ve heard the words to the song:

He’s tried to make me go to rehab
I wont go, go, go.

… and now they’re true.

Amy Winehouse is no longer saying “no, no, no.” She’s going to rehab. An article on announced that Amy is cancelling her appearance at a Saturday awards show and checking into rehab.

“Amy decided to enter the facility today after talks with her record label, management, family and doctors,” reads a statement from the Universal Music Group. “She has come to understand that she requires specialist treatment to continue her ongoing recovery from drug addiction and prepare for her planned appearance at the Grammy Awards.”

Just yesterday there were reports of Amy being caught on video smoking crack.

The British tabloid the Sun released grainy footage showing Grammy-nominated Winehouse, 24, inhaling fumes from a pipe. The video was reportedly shot hours before she attended a court hearing for her jailed husband.

Amy’s “Rehab” song is in the iPods of Hundreds of thousands of teenagers across the world. The message that most kids hear from the song is one of “I don’t care.” But if you listen a little closer to the talented yet troubled singer’s lyrics… you see pain, something today’s generation can relate to.

I don’t ever wanna drink again
I just, ooo, I just need a friend
Im not gonna spend 10 weeks
Have everyone think im on the mend

It’s not just my pride
It’s just til these tears have dried

They’re tryin to make me go to rehab
I said no, no, no

Amy has confessed to her troubles in interviews before. In Spin Magazine last summer she said, “I write songs because I’m f—ed in the head and need to get something good out of something bad.” (Amy Winehouse, Spin, July 2007, p. 60.)

As a youth worker I have two thoughts:

  1. Pray for Amy. Don’t mock her in this (sometimes the ‘righteous’ have the tendency to kick people when they’re down). Just pray for her.
  2. Use this as an opportunity to talk with our kids about these feelings. “Have you ever felt like her lyrics: ‘I just need a friend?'” “Have you ever turned toward something that you know down deep isn’t the answer… but you do it anyway?” “What could be the answer to this emptiness we feel?”


Poor Taste on TV

Posted on: 01/24/08 11:50 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Last night another new show launched on TV, one that is a pretty good reflection of what America wants to see: scandal, deep dark secrets, controversy… and a whole lot of money at stake.

The show is called The Moment of Truth. It’s like Springer meets Deal or No Deal. The challenge is simple: answer 21 increasingly personal questions honestly, as determined by a polygraph, and win up to $500,000.

Media Life Magazine online described the show like this:

Before the episodes are taped, contestants are hooked to a polygraph machine–a lie detector–and asked 50 to 75 questions, like “Have you ever made a sexy video and uploaded to the internet?,” “Would you cheat on your spouse if you knew you wouldn’t get caught?,” and “Have you ever touched a female co-worker inappropriately?”
The contestants are told 21 of those questions will be asked again on the air but are not told which ones nor how they fared on the polygraph.

They’re free to change their answers the day of the show’s taping, but to win the money the players must tell the truth in front of the camera. The polygraph results serve as a guide.

Surprise surprise. The show did fantastic. Although Media Life didn’t exactly predict a great response… the mid season premier kept 94% of the American Idol audience, becoming the highest rated new show of the season.

I’m not shocked. The more controversy and smut the better the show seems to do. Just look at what Tila Tequila did on MTV last year.

TV seems to provide far less family appropriate shows of late. This year I tried to watch a good amount of the new TV Pilots (I always like to see what teenagers are watching). I saw VERY FEW pilots without at least some sexual content, some very strong sexual content.

In a 2005 Kaiser report, they reported an 10% increase of sexual content in prime time shows from just 1998 to 2005. That doesn’t surprise me at all.

But I was pleased to find out that some strides have been made in family viewing times, the Super Bowl for instance. Go Daddy has had two ads rejected so far. No complaints from me.

I continue to urge parents to make use of two great television resources:

  1. The TIVO or DVR. This gives us the flexibility to not only skip commercials, but pause TV when something happens that might be worth discussing.
  2. The OFF button!

Religious Wackos Talking Trash About Heath Ledger

Posted on: 01/23/08 9:29 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Wow… just when you thought you saw it all.

Let me back up just a bit.

Most of you have probably read the very sad story of the death of Heath Ledger, the young actor who starred in The Patriot, A Knights Tale, The Four Feathers, Brokeback Mountain and many other films. Heath died yesterday in his New York apartment of a possible drug overdose.

He had a 2-year-old child.

My heart goes out to his family and friends. So sad.

Unfortunately, some weirdos have already emerged casting judgement on Heath for his role in Brokeback Mountain. This website (I don’t even want to type the address) from Westboro Baptist Church has posted a “flyer” how they will picket his funeral because he was a “pervert” and he is “now serving in Hell.” It’s so hateful, it is difficult to even read.

NOTE: that weblink is getting a lot of traffic today… so here is the image they have posted on their site:

Other sites have already began posting pictures of what are believed to be amongst the last images of Heath Ledger alive. Tragic.

I guess I just wonder what Bible this church is reading? If they call themselves Christians… what Christ do they belong to? Because the Christ I know was loving, forgiving and gracious to prostitutes, tax collectors and sinners. The worse the sinner, the more they were drawn to Jesus. And Jesus always showed love and grace, balanced with the truth– I just talked about this balance in my blog last week (I can’t help but think how he responded to the woman caught in adultery in John 8).

Pray for Heath’s family… his little girl.

And Jesus told us to pray for our enemies too. So I guess I better start praying for Westboro Baptist Church.



Young Life Skit Causes Stir

Posted on: 01/23/08 8:47 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Ah… this article from brings back memories:

Police in Mount Lebanon, Pa., said in December that no illegal acts were involved, but some parents still want to know why the nondenominational Christian Mount Lebanon Young Life club had staged a teenagers’ social event during which boys wore adult diapers, bibs and bonnets and sat in girls’ laps while being spoon-fed. Said youth minister O.J. Wandrisco, the skits were not “dirty,” but “to break down the walls and let (the kids) have fun.” A previous skit involved, according to a parent, kids eating chocolate pudding out of diapers. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12-8-07]

Wow… and I found this in News of the Weird . That’s quite an acheivement- I’ve never made it into that publication. I’m so jealous!  🙂  (My gross games page only made it into WORLD Magazine a few years ago… but that’s a whole ‘nother story!)

Friday Night Lights On My Mind

Posted on: 01/22/08 8:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

“I always find it intriguing to catch even a glimpse of how the world views Christians.”

That’s how I started an October 17th EZINE article about NBC’s Friday Night Lights … and so the saga continues.

In review… I loved the show last year. But this year it has seemed to try a little too hard to shock us with murder, backstabbing, and scandal of all shapes and sizes. If anything, the show has lost its realistic feel that it had in Season One.

But one thing has perked my interest- not necessarily in a good way- more like, “Oh no… where are they going with this?!” …that is in the character of Lyla Garrity who accepted Jesus. Since my October article, we have now seen Lyla do some actions that made me cringe, and others that were pretty realistic. A few episodes ago she brought another character (Riggins) to church- a guy that was the last guy you’d expect in church- and we saw something happen to him. It wasn’t vivid, but it was almost as if seeds were planted. Not at all what you’d expect from a TV show!

In the last episode Lyla started working for a Christian radio station hosting a show where Christian young people call in for advice. I looked at my wife Lori when each call came in and said, “Let’s see how they write this Christian answer to a tough question.” Lyla answered “is oral sex okay” (they kind of side-stepped that one), and “should I worry when people make fun of me for praying at school,” etc.

I’m torn. It’s one of the few times I’ve seen a network show have a Christian character that they didn’t seem to mock (Studio 60 might have claimed to do that last year, but… don’t get me started on that one.) Lyla actually is given a good amount of screen time. And even though I don’t agree with everything she’s doing… they seem to be putting her in a positive light.

Well… like it or not, FNL’s attempts to woo audiences haven’t worked.

This New York Times article said yesterday:

All the while, the show is a bona fide washout. Six or so million people watch “Friday Night Lights,” compared with around 13 million for NBC’s hit “Heroes.” No single episode has ever broken the Top 50 most-viewed prime-time shows. In popularity, it lags far behind “Dancing With the Stars,” “Deal or No Deal” and “The Bachelor.” Even now that the Nielsen ratings try to account for viewers who digitally record a show and watch it within a week of its air date (affluent viewers, perhaps?), the show’s numbers are lousy.

So FNL fans should probably prepare themselves… it ain’t gonna last. In the meantime, I’m keeping my eye on the show. I enjoy seeing my favorite characters from last season (Coach, Riggins, and Smash’s mom), and I’m biting my nails as I watch what becomes of the lone Christian Lyla Garrity.


American Idol

Posted on: 01/21/08 9:11 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Interesting… American Idol has fewer viewers so far this year, but still is beating all the other networks combined whenever it is on.

An article in Media Life Magazine tells us:

And of course there is “Idol.” The show drew its smallest opening-night audience in four years, but it was so far out ahead of the competition that it almost didn’t matter. The first two episodes of the smash singing show have averaged a 13.2 rating, making them the year’s two highest-rated non-sports shows on broadcast, 48 percent better than the No. 3 show, the Sept. 27 premiere of ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” at an 8.9.

Even if “Idol’s” numbers fall off a bit more, it will still power Fox to an easy No. 1 this season unless one of the other networks’ reality shows really takes off, which seems unlikely.

Also… a little controversy never hurts. (controversy helped Jamie Lynne’s Zoey’s ratings.)

I spoke to kids this weekend and did a little “stand up” bit on American Idol auditions. It’s amazing. Usually when you talk about a show you include a certain chunk of the audience and exclude others… not with Idol. EVERYONE knows… they’ve all seen some of the auditions one year or another.

It will be interesting to see how many teenagers it will keep this season…