“Applauding” Jennifer Aniston?

Posted on: 12/12/08 9:46 AM | by Jonathan McKee

“I applaud her.”

That’s what CNN correspondent A.J. Hammer said about Jennifer Aniston’s new naked photos in GQ Magazine (I’ll just show you the cover photo, because that’s what you’ll see on the news tonight or while standing in line at the grocery store) where Jennifer poses wearing only a tie. Inside the magazine she is seen in a risque group shot, lying between several semi-nude male models… with only a few inches of her “real estate” not showing (the inches that would have made the layout a Penthouse layout, not a GQ layout).

Side bar: Why do our young girls base their self esteem on looks? Why would they be quick to discard modesty if the price was right?

Because that’s exactly what we have taught them! After all, in this CNN report, all three correspondents applaud Jen for doing this.

Their exact words:

“I applaud her speaking out like this. I think it shows a great deal of self confidence.” – A.J. Hammer, CNN correspondent

“It is brilliant on her part. She looks beautiful at 39, she looks like she’s 23. I applaud her for doing this and I pray that she does it more often.”-Carlos Diaz, correspondent for Extra.

“I think she wants to get out there and show that she looks amazing. She looks better than ever. She is in this relationship (John Mayer). She’s got a movie coming out. I think she should just go for it! If I was her, I’d be posing with a tie on… on the cover of every magazine out there. -Kim Serafin, Editor for In Touch Weekly Magazine.

Hmmmmm. Maybe our teenagers should all go do this… since adults applaud it.

Beaming Movies to Space

Posted on: 12/10/08 8:47 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Yeah… I thought it was a joke too. But apparently not. Twentieth Century Fox is making history this Friday by beaming the brand new remake of THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL into space.

I got a chance to interview the film’s director Scott Derrickson this morning and asked him how it felt to be the director of the first film to be beamed to space. He felt privelaged. (Good interview. You’ll be hearing that soon in an upcoming podcast. He’s a really sharp guy. If you missed it, you can read my last interview with him here.)

I gotta give Fox props for their movie choice. I just saw a screener of the film yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it (I blogged all about it). And the message of the film is all about redemption- whether humans are redeemable. So I guess this film isn’t a bad choice of films to send… the message is solid.

Business Wire reports:

The first deliberate deep space transmission of this highly anticipated science fiction thriller will begin this Friday, December 12, 2008, to coincide with the film’s opening day on Planet Earth. If any civilizations are currently orbiting Alpha Centauri, they will be able to receive and view the film approximately four years from now in the year 2012…

Commented Twentieth Century Fox domestic distribution president Bruce Snyder: “We at Fox always like to think big, and what’s bigger than a ‘galactic’ release of a major motion picture event? We look forward to sharing THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL with our galactic neighbors near Alpha Centauri — and look forward to their feedback…eight years from now.”

Interesting article. It even includes a list of spots in our own solar system where and when the transmission can be intercepted… in case you happen to be near Neptune 4.03236 hours from the film’s release. (Neptune has always been Soooooo behind the times!)

I wonder what films got rejected from being sent into space? You could almost make a Top 10 List.

Starship Troopers
Independence Day
Indiana Jones 4
Alien Vs. Predator
Mars Attacks

etc. etc.

Wow… I’m wasting way too much time on this!

A Screening This Morning

Posted on: 12/9/08 2:39 PM | by Jonathan McKee

This morning I got a chance to see a screening for the new The Day the Earth Stood Still, Scott Derrickson’s remake of the 1951 classic.

I like Scott a lot. I interviewed him when his The Exorcism of Emily Rose came out two years ago. This morning I received a call as I was going into the screening asking if I wanted to interview Scott again. I didn’t have any of my stuff with me, so I had to pass. But it sounds like I’m going to get about 15 minutes with him tomorrow. I’ll keep you all posted. That might make its way into a podcast or something.

Scott is an interesting guy. He’s a Biola grad (a Christian school in Southern California) with films like Hellraiser on his director’s resume. So when he tackled “Emily Rose,” I was excited to talk with him about the horror medium. After all, a bunch of Christians would consider horror films pure evil. Right? Scott and I had an interesting dialogue about that very subject.

The thing I really like about Scott, besides the fact that he’s a talented director, is the fact that he uses film as a “canvas” to bring up spiritual conversations. His films are GREAT discussion starters. The Exorcism of Emily Rose was basically a film that asked the question, “Does God exist.” Now, in the wake of that film, Scott cleverly uses The Day the Earth Stood Still and his Oscar winning cast to bring up the issue of redemption.

I didn’t know much about this film prior to the screening. As a movie buff, I’m not a big fan of the old War of the Worlds, The Day the Earth Stood Still, etc. (my love for films starts in the 70’s, save a handful of films, mostly from Hitchcock). So as I sat down in theatre this morning, I really didn’t know what to expect. I’ll be honest. Keanu Reeves is not my favorite. His best line is a film was either, “Dude, that’s your mom!” (“Shut up Ted.”) or “Good noodles.” (I’ll give a free copy of my first book to the first person who tells me that second film reference). Let’s just say that I was pleasantly surprised with this film.

The story is about the day that an alien visits our planet, casting judgment on humans for the way they live. The whole movie wrestles with man’s lack of redeeming qualities. Helen Benson (played by Oscar winning Jennifer Connelly) basically begs the alien (played by Reeves… he actually did a good job), to spare humankind.

The film provides some great discussions. Our ministry will probably write up several and put them on our MOVIE CLIP DISCUSSIONS page on the film’s DVD release.

Another bonus… the film was completely clean. I’d let my kids watch this before Shrek 3. Nothing objectionable at all. It got a PG-13 for some sci-fi disaster images and violence. i’d let my 6th grader see it with me without hesitation.

It comes out this Friday- I give it a “Theatre Worthy.”

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What Teens Will Be Watching This Tuesday

Posted on: 12/8/08 10:59 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I guess one bisexual just wasn’t enough.

Let me back way up. During MTV’s 2007 Video Music Awards, a commercial ran for a brand new show called A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila. In this reality show, ex Playboy and Penthouse model Tila, a self proclaimed bisexual, invites 16 gorgeous lesbians and 16 studly straight guys over to help her decide whether she is gay or straight. The commercial for this show alone could have put Viagra out of business. The following day, in my annual recap of that “VMA Awards Show”, I mentioned the commercial and predicted that Tila’s show would be a big hit. After all, the commercial showed lesbians making out, girls in bikini’s brawling with each other… all the stuff our great nation loves.

Tila’s show not only became a hit, but her MySpace page became one of the most popular MySpace pages, with more than 1.7 million MySpace “friends.” Young girls began emailing the ex Playboy and Penthouse model for advice on love, sex, and relationships (receiving quality answers, I’m sure). Season 2 of Tila’s show returned with more of the same (read David’s in depth January, 2008 Youth Culture Window article about that season here).

MTV keeps sinking to new lows each season, knowing that sex sells. Forget the fact that “teens who were exposed to high levels of television sexual content were twice as likely to experience a pregnancy in the subsequent 3 years compared with those with lower levels of exposure.” (Journal of Pediatrics, November, 2008)

The question is… what does Season 3 of this “A Shot at Love…” show have in store for our kids?

It guess Tila didn’t make the cut.

Enter the “Ikki Twins” stage left. That’s right… lesbian twins.

The show launches on MTV tomorrow night (Tuesday, December 9th). The sad fact is, the show is probably gonna be a huge hit with this younger generation.

You’ve got much better things to do than watch this show, so David has provided us with another great Youth Culture Window article about what are kids will be seeing on this MTV reality series. David also includes some questions we can use, talking to teenagers who watch the show (because, yes, many of our kids will be watching it). David says it like this:

We hope you won’t be put in that position, but just in case you hear teenagers you love talking about the show, here are a few questions to help you engage them in conversation on the very important topic of love.

I’ll be a little more blunt. We’re fooling ourselves if we think that kids in our ministry area won’t watch this show.

For a little more about what to expect… here’s the preview from MTV.com. Be warned… the preview alone is more than I would want my kids to see.

(click here to see the video if you receive this blog via email)

And a quick note to the guy who is gonna email me and say, “Why are you providing the link to this preview? That will cause some of us to stumble.” Let me just answer that guy right now. First, sadly, this preview is approved for television. I’m not linking you to something R-rated. Secondly, this is straight off MTV.com  Our kids know where to find it, and the guy struggling with porn knows where it is anyway and, sadly again, knows where the more graphic stuff is (and if you struggle with porn, hopefully you have set up some safeguards and accountability that keep you from going to those sites). I show this preview to you as parents and youth workers for one simple reason: Some of us really don’t realize how bad TV has become. This preview gives you just a glimpse.

My Driver’s Licence

Posted on: 12/5/08 9:55 AM | by Jonathan McKee

My son just got his driver’s permit and will take his first “behind the wheel” lesson tomorrow.

Wow! I’m getting old.

I remember my first behind the wheel lesson. I was barely 15, I didn’t have a permit, my parents were out of town… and my brother taught me how to drive our VW bug over to my girlfriends house at 2AM. (Yeah… I wasn’t a very good kid. Don’t hold it against me.) I’m sooooooo glad that my kids aren’t like I was.

Thinking about driver’s licenses… I found this in my scrapbook.

Yeah… take a look at all the mischeif behind those eyes!  (Ha… 143 pounds! And no, I don’t live there anymore!)

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Is Technology Taboo for Connecting With Kids?

Posted on: 12/3/08 10:20 AM | by Jonathan McKee

“I’ll just meet kids online!”

“I text kids… it’s the best way to keep contact with them.”

These both sound current and efficient… but is technology really the future of connecting with kids?

A few  months ago I turned in the manuscript of my newest book to YS/Zondervan, a book titled CONNECT, all about adults connecting with kids face-to-face. As I penned the book, my publisher and I quickly resolved that we would need to include a chapter about “the dangers” and in essence “the precautions” we need to take engaging in one-on-one relationships with kids.

Here’s the dilemma. Adults who care for kids realize the effectiveness of mentor relationships, but the world has become a pretty “creepy” place. If you turn on the news and hear about adults contacting kids… it raises red flags. Something good has turned into something bad because of a few “sickos” out there who have developed inappropriate relationships. If you don’t believe me, just jump onto BadBadTeacher.com and take a look at which teachers, adults, pastors or coaches got in trouble this week for texting kids inappropriately, or for talking inappropriately online, or even hooking up after school.

Youth workers seem a little bit in the dark about these dangers- or maybe they just “don’t want to know.” Every time I teach my CONNECT seminar and ask the crowd to brainstorm effective methods to connect with kids, the number one answers are always cell phones and social networking.

I understand that these are good tools. But they are not the only tools. The question I have for youth workers is this: are these tools even going to be available (or legal) for us in the next few years? Because right now this is a huge discussion with lawmakers. Just a few weeks ago New York Times had an article about protecting children on the internet by providing age verification to “confirm the identities and ages of minors and then allow the young web surfers to talk only with other children, or with adults approved by parents.”

This is a pretty good idea. One, it would force youth workers and caring adults to dialogue more with parents. Two, it would obviously make it much more difficult for predators! And predators are making our job as youth workers much more difficult.

Here’s just a snippet of my “One-on-one Precautions/Boundaries” chapter from my new CONNECT book:

I just read a CNN article about a sudden increase of student-teacher sexual relationships that initiated crackdowns on social-networking friendships. According to this article, the state of Missouri has had enough. As I write this book, eleven teachers from Missouri have been disciplined, arrested and convicted of inappropriate behavior with students in the last two years. “State legislator Jane Cunningham is sponsoring a bill in the Missouri House of Representatives that would ban elementary school teachers from having social-networking friendships with their students.”  (Online Student-teacher Friendships Can be Tricky, by Mallory Simon, CNN.com, 8/12, 2008)

Texting is also being targeted as inappropriate. The same article sited an example where a mom thought a teacher was giving her child some needed extra attention, helping the child overcome shyness. The parents eventually checked the child’s phone bill and found 4,200 text messages between the teacher and student.


It’s sad to see some of these technologies abused. Last year I had a small group of junior high boys and I found that texting was by far the best way to keep in touch with them throughout the week. I used texting as a bridge to get me to face-to-face communication. Texting would help me check in with them throughout the week, and plan face-to-face meetings. It will be sad if texting becomes ultimately taboo between adult and teenager.

Social networking sites were similarly helpful. I didn’t make them the primary source of my communication by any means, but it helped me keep current with my small group and plan a time together with the click of a button. Facebook or similar sites are simply springboards I use to get face-to-face with my kids.

Even as this book is being published we are seeing legislation turn their attention to this subject more each day. We need to keep our eyes on the news and see what becomes of some of these decisions.

As you can see. Technology can be a great tool for connecting with kids. Unfortunately, it’s a tool in danger of becoming extinct, or at least heavily regulated.

So what do we do?
1. The most important things youth workers can do is take precautions to protect ourselves and the kids we minister too. Realize that the world is NOT a big fan of adult kid relationships. Make sure that we meet parents and keep open channels of communication with them. And NEVER text, IM, or chat with a kid about something that you wouldn’t want printed out in front of their parents, your head pastor and your spouse! David talked about this in our Youth Culture Window article about texting just a few weeks ago.

2. Secondly, DON’T give up on one-on-one relationships. One of the most powerful influences in the life of a kid is an adult who cares. Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water on this one. We still need to be hanging out with kids and communicating with them. Just follow the rules as you do this. Our face time with kids is far more effective than any program or any lesson we’ll ever plan.

3. Segue from technology to “face-to-face.” Technology might be a great tool, just make it one of many tools. If kids seem more comfortable typing to a screen (as many do), use that as an open door to create more face to face conversations. In Chapter 1 of my book, THE NEW BREED, I discussed the seismic shift of Isolation: from Community to individualism. People have fewer close relationships than even a decade ago. Social network “friends” are not meeting the relational needs kids have. This has resulted in a need for more quality “face to face” relationships. Caring adults should use this. Slowly introduce more face to face time (safe public places, small groups, etc.) to connect with kids and be a listening ear.

I Cheat, but I’m More Ethical than Most

Posted on: 12/2/08 9:37 AM | by Jonathan McKee

“I’m very honest!

By the way… can I copy your homework?”

A revealing report has just been released about the ethical standards (or lack there of) of U.S. high school students. In the past year, 30% of U.S. high school students have stolen from a store and 64% have cheated on a test, according to a recent survey of 29,760 randomly selected students at 100 randomly selected high schools.

The results conclude that today’s young people are less honest than previous generations. Some educators are speculating that it is because of the intensified pressures, “prompting many students to cut corners.”

Here’s just a snippet of some of the survey findings:

• Cheating in school is rampant and getting worse. Sixty-four percent of students cheated on a test in the past year and 38% did so two or more times, up from 60% and 35% in a 2006 survey.

• Thirty-five percent of boys and twenty-six percent of girls stole something from a store.

• Twenty percent said they stole something from a friend.

• Twenty-three percent said they stole something from a parent or other relative.

• Thirty-six percent said they used the Internet to plagiarize an assignment, up from 33% in 2004.

• Forty-two percent said they sometimes lie to save money — 49% of the boys and 36% of the girls.

Despite such responses, 93% of the students said they were satisfied with their personal ethics and character, and 77% affirmed that “when it comes to doing what is right, I am better than most people I know.”

In our podcast this past May we interviewed some student leaders about the subject of integrity, asking them about the temptation of cheating. Their candid responses were quite revealing. It’s evident that even our “best” church kids struggle with this.

David and I both have talked about this in various speaking venues in the last year. More than often we’ll do an “on the spot” survey and ask the audience of kids to raise their hands if they’ve cheated in the last few years. The numbers of hands raised are always above 90 percent (these are church kids, mind you). Last weekend David did this with a smaller group in his home church and 23 out of 25 students raised their hands (that they have cheated in some way in the last few years).

But I like the study above, especially the fact that it examines the numbers of “current” cheaters (cheaters who cheated in the last year), as opposed to those who have cheated “ever.” We’ve seen a lot of those “lifetime cheaters” reports and their numbers are much higher. I think it’s revealing (and depressing) enough to see that 64% have cheated this year alone. We don’t need to rely on alarmist stats. The situation is already dire (I like the Center for Disease Control’s methods they use in their surveys- providing “lifetime” and “current” stats. For example: they report how many people have “ever” taken a drink, compared to “current” drinkers- those who have drank in the last 30 days, and “binge drinkers,” clearly defining the difference).

I think the most revealing part of the above study is the fact that 77% affirmed that “when it comes to doing what is right, I am better than most people I know.” This sounds like the quote from “the voice of this generation” Kanye West: “I definitely have conflicts. Am I able to walk like I’m Jesus Christ? No, but I do a lot more right than wrong.”


(here’s the link to the actually study from the Josephson Institute. ht to David, Ypulse and YS for the links to that USA Today article and the Associated Press article. )

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Bad Just Got Good

Posted on: 12/1/08 7:59 AM | by Jonathan McKee

That’s the show’s sound byte: “Bad just got good!The Bad Girl’s Club.

It’s hard to even imagine that TV could be any worse than Tila Tequila or sexually charged programming like the Pussy Cat Dolls’ reality show. But I think the Oxygen’s Bad Girl’s Club is pretty dang close.

(for those of you who receive this blog via email/RSS, here’s the YouTube video link)

In an article last year, Media Life Magazine calls The Bad Girls Club “the show that defines Oxygen.” It goes on…

“The Bad Girls Club,” the nasty, sex-filled reality romp that follows seven party girls living in one house, including a hustler and a stripper.

In one episode a housemates throws dishes and fruit at the wall in a rage. In another a girl tosses bleach on her roommates’ clothes after a perceived betrayal. All the while, the girls are hooking up with a long parade of men.

“Bad Girls” is raunchy and it’s ridiculous, for sure. But it’s also become the most-watched show on the cheeky women’s network.

This year it seems that Bad Girls has kept in the race as one of TV’s top draws on Tuesday night (see the table on the bottom of this Media Life article).

I guess this is what should be expected in a world where the lines between good and bad are slowly disappearing.