No Wonder Our Kids Listen to It

Posted on: 02/9/09 12:34 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Why are adults surprised that kids listen to raunchy music?

Kids are only following their example.

Last night the Grammys gave us a true glimpse of what adults value in this world. The Grammys has a long history of being THE music awards show. Unlike the Teen Choice Awards, or many of the MTV awards shows, The Grammys are chosen by adults. Then why was Lil Wayne nominated for more than anyone else, 8 Grammys?

Do these adults even know what this guy is singing about? (you can take a little peek at his content in this article) Maybe Lil Wayne should take this opportunity to ask their daughter on a date?

Maybe the same could be said about Kid Rock, Robert Plant and others at the show last night. But I think most adults are probably a little more comfortable with the messages coming from the albums of U2 and Coldplay than the young Mr. Wayne. Or maybe, in today’s world lyrical content just doesn’t matter. Because last night we awarded Wayne with trophies for the explicit album Tha Carter III, and three other songs, including the song Lollipop, an explicit song about oral sex.

“You’re a foul mouthed pervert. Here’s your trophy.”  (pause)  “But kids, you watch your mouths!”

David wrote about the blurring of the line between music for adults and teens last week in our Youth Culture Window article, The 2009 Grammys: Do Adults Like the Same Music as Teens?

Subtle PG-13 Lies

Posted on: 02/7/09 2:21 PM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s always interesting to see what films draw teenagers. A year ago, Juno was the hottest thing. Last fall it was Twilight. So what film has their attention now?

Last Tuesday a film was released that I predict will be one of the next cult classics of this generation. The film is Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Like Juno and Twilight, the film has a PG-13 rating. But this is one PG-13 film that has me wondering what the MPAA is smoking.

Let me be clear. I’m not a big fan of the MPAA rating system anyway. I’ve never been one to let a secular rating system tell me which movies are “good” and “bad” for my kids. I’ve seen plenty of R-rated films that I have no problem with (The Passion, Saving Private Ryan, The Last Samurai…). And I’ve seen plenty of PG films that are full of subtle lies. That’s a sore spot for me. I don’t like it when the media lies to us, especially to our kids. It’s completely irresponsible to consistently show actions without consequences. That’s just not the way life works.

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist is a clever movie with strong characters and creative dialogue… kids are loving it. But not only is it full of graphic sexual talk, hookups and crude humor, it’s also a distortion of reality. There are drastic consequences emotionally and physically to most of the casual behaviors portrayed in Nick & Norah. Are these destructive behaviors true to life? Yes. But they are most often linked to consequences, consequences that the people behind the story of Nick and Norah chose to ignore.

Yes, Cinderella might also be a distortion of reality. Mice and birds don’t make dresses. And maybe there is no Prince Charming for most girls. But I’ve never met a teenage girl who bought into the lie that a mouse named Gus-Gus would be her best friend and a guy on a horse would take her away into the sunset. On the contrary, I’ve worked with plenty of teenager girls that found out the hard way that the casual actions in Nick & Norah have devastating consequences.

Can’t we be real with our kids? Nick & Norah is a nice fairy tale, based on realistic characters and authentic feelings. But we’re fools if we don’t understand how influential this kind of media is on our kids. The imitatable behaviors in this film aren’t just entertainment, they are telling our kids how to live in the real world.

Don’t let your kids construct their ethics from films like this.

This week I devoted our entire Youth Culture Window article to the content behind Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. In that article I give you a glimpse of what our kids will be seeing in that film. I encourage you to take a peek at the article. Todd also posted a movie review on the film.

Youth Mentor Prevents Suicide Across Country

Posted on: 02/6/09 8:02 AM | by Jonathan McKee

This hits home for me, this was just down the freeway from me in Sacramento… and all the way across the country.

An 18-year-old Sacramento kid jumped on MySpace looking for someone to talk to. A 21-year-old youth mentor from Jersey befriends him… a friendship that just might have saved his life.

MSNBC reports:

“I felt … he reached out to me for guidance and help,” New Jersey resident Jesse Coltrane said as he recalled the discussion he had via webcam with the Sacramento youth. “That’s what he said. He said, ‘I need someone to talk to. You’re the only one I feel as though I can talk to.'”

But Monday evening, things got a little more intense. My local Sacramento Bee tells the story:

About a month ago, the California teen asked to become Coltrane’s friend on the social-networking Web site MySpace. Such requests from strangers are not unusual for the 21-year-old Coltrane, who runs a modeling and entertainment agency and has more than 500 friends listed on the Web site.

The two got to know each other with a few phone calls and talked mostly about music, Coltrane said.

But the instant message Monday evening was unexpected. It read: “im thinkin abt commitn smtn dat wll hurt alota ppl.”

Coltrane’s response, according to his computer’s archives: “What is that.”

“I dnt really wana say but just know its not good.”

Coltrane: “Suicide.”

When the younger man answered yes, Coltrane dropped out of his online business meeting and communicated with him for about seven hours by telephone, instant message and webcam.

This is one of those stories where each article offers an additional insights. MSNBC reports that Coltrane contacted the police and told them that the boy was starting to cut his wrists. It’s a fascinating little article. Another snippet:

Officers went to the teen’s home at about 3:20 a.m., found the injured youth and took him to a county mental health clinic for a 72-hour evaluation.

Leong said the youth is expected to live.

Coltrane said he’s glad the teen is getting medical help.

Coltrane added he may have helped save the teen’s life, but said that he had little choice. He recalled how the teen told him that the suicide attempt was nobody’s else’s business.

“I said, ‘Well, it’s my business now, because you brung me into it,'” Coltrane added.

An expert on suicide prevention praised Coltrane for calling police.

I guess something good has come from MySpace.


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On my flight East

Posted on: 02/5/09 4:04 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Today I fly out to Pittsburgh (to wade through the confetti in the streets, I presume) to speak at a winter camp with 500 students and leaders in Western PA. Do you think I should wear an Arizona Cardinals shirt?  🙂

On the flight over I plan on watching the new DVD release of Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playslist. This little PG-13 film is already creating a buzz. I missed it in the theatres but have read some of the film’s dialogue. Todd, my movie guy, is posting a review today or tomorrow on it… he was really disturbed by the film’s lack of morals… probably a pretty good reflection of our culture. Expect a full synopsis from me soon.

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Super Bowl Commercials

Posted on: 02/3/09 9:02 AM | by Jonathan McKee

The Super Bowl is the one time a year that I actually watch commercials. When people are paying multi-millions for an ad… they’re usually pretty good.

Well… define good.

This year a few of them definitely drew a laugh from me: the poor executive who suggested that they stop buying Bud Light for their meetings (only to get thrown out of a window), the horse telling the story of his great grandfather first coming to the country (with his good and bad jobs), the ad with the moose head on the wall, and yes, I even laughed at the slapstick humor of the Doritos ad with the Crystal ball- an ad that created some of the most Super Bowl commercial buzz (ironically, this ad was the first non-agency spot ever to do this- read more here).

But this year also revealed a trend toward the irresponsible and raunchy. Despites the claim of some that this year was mild and overly conservative, several ads made me look at my wife and say, “Oh no they didn’t!”

One of the most irresponsible ads was also from Doritos, showing a man crunching Doritos, and the crunch gave the man apparent superpowers, like a woman’s clothes being ripped off (revealing her in just lingerie). An ATM starts spitting out 20’s. Then he turns a police officer into a monkey.

It wasn’t the most raunchy ad, but it was definitely the ad that irked me the most. I can’t stand when the media lies to young people. Great message we’re communicating to our kids: sex and money is “where it’s at!” And cops are bad.


Even though that particular Doritos “Crunch” ad ranked high, surprisingly, audiences seemed to agree overall that the raunchy ads weren’t the best ones. GoDaddy’s sexually charged ads (or as this article calls it, “breast focused raunchy Super Bowl ads”) received some of the lowest scores from postgame ad polls. USA Today’s Ad-meter (where you can see the top Super Bowl ads ranked and actually view them) ranks these GoDaddy ads way down in 41st and 45th place. But here’s the ironic part. Even though they weren’t rated as “the best” … they were among the most watched. According to this article, even though people didn’t give them high scores in the polls, they liked the ads enought for a second viewing.

Sex sells. It always has.

The 7 Sins of Worship Leading

Posted on: 02/1/09 2:20 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I think I’ve heard more whining, complaining and disagreements about worship than any other subject in the church. Sad, but today’s “American Idol” mentality has been known to spill over into the worship service. As a congregation, instead of lifting our praise to God, we often listen with a critical ear, “voting off” those we don’t like.

Those of you who have used our youth ministry resources for any time are probably familiar with our THE SOURCE PODCAST. In this podcast, we almost always share the “Seven Sins of…” a certain topic. This is just a fun way to share how “NOT” to do something.

In our brand new episode of THE SOURCE PODCAST, Episode #22, I join up with the worship band Dutton as they share The Seven Sins of Worship Leading. Some of you might recognize Dutton from their recent tour at the Planet Wisdom events- they are the worship band for that conference. Others might know them as the band that played at UBC, back in the day when Crowder was out of town. These guys do a great job.

I really enjoyed this podcast. We had a lot of fun… and tackled some big issues at the same time. Anyone who leads worship or is involved in planning worship services should take a listen to this podcast.

One of the reasons I personally enjoyed this podcast is because my daughter Alyssa joined us for the recording. Great fun.