Confirming My “Nerd” Status

Posted on: 09/8/09 6:20 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Monday was a holiday, and in our house we tried something really fun: Lord of the Rings Day! (Yeah… we’re really pushing our “nerd” status with that one.) That’s right. We watched the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy in one day… the extended edition! It was quite an undertaking.

I told my kids that they could each invite one friend. We had a few friends over to spend the night- the night prior, but I had everyone go to bed at a decent hour, because we had a 7:30 a.m. start time. Here’s the schedule I made:

7:15 AM: Be eating breakfast
7:30 AM: Begin Fellowship of the Rings (208 minutes, or 3 hrs 28 minutes)
BREAK-15 minutes at disk change
Finish at 11:15 AM
BREAK- 15 minutes
11:30 AM: Begin Two Towers (223 minutes, or 3 hrs 43 minutes)
1:00 PM: Resume Two Towers
Finish at 3:45 PM
BREAK- 15 minutes
4:00 PM: Begin Return of the King (250 minutes, or 4 hours 10 min)
6:00 PM: DINNER BREAK FOR 30 MINUTES– at disk change
Finish at 8:40 PM

We kept to the schedule pretty well with fun food breaks (donuts in the morning, hot wings mid day, pizza, then deli sandwiches for dinner). Our dinner break ended up being combined with a 15 minute walk. We were all craving some outdoor exposure! In actuality we finished at 8:51 p.m., a little over 13 hours from when we started! Whew. We are true nerds.

During the film, most of the kids (my kids are 12, 14 and 16) stayed tuned in. My son dozed off during The Two Towers for about 10 minutes. And at the beginning of Return of the King I noticed my 14 year old laying upside down on the couch watching the movie backwards through a compact mirror from her purse. But overall, we kept dialed in for all 13+ hours.

We did pause the film or rewind a scene or two. For example, we always like to watch Bilbo explode into a tizzy fit when he asks Frodo if he can see his ring one last time (We watched that in slow motion).

Watching all three films in a row, we noticed a few things. Here’s some of our random observations.

  • Legolas is by far the biggest stud (or “Beastly” as my son would say) in the film. His one-armed horse mount, at full gallop in The Two Towers is probably his best move, if not the taking down of the giant elephant creature in Return of the King.
  • I eat like a Hobbit. (I want to adopt the practice of both “second breakfast” and “elevensies.”)
  • Frodo wins the “most irritating” award with his monotonous fickle mood swings (Not to mention, a few of his “Oh my Sam” moments were just a little awkward)
  • When the eagle rescues Frodo and Sam from Mount Doom at the end, we all agreed that it would have been much simpler if the eagles would have just flown them there with the ring IN THE FIRST PLACE!
  • Frodo is in desperate need of a manicure
  • Fellowship was the best of the three
  • Two Towers, although good, was my least favorite of the three
  • Frodo doesn’t pronounce Gandalf’s name “Gandolph,” as many do, but “Gand Alf!”

It was a great day. Call me a Hobbit, but my favorite part was the hot wings that we snacked on during The Two Towers!

Side note: there were some great discussion starters in the film that our ministry provides (for free of course) with discussion questions, etc. You can find those here, herehere, and here.

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Set Your TIVOs for This Porthole into Youth Culture

Posted on: 09/5/09 12:20 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Every year I encourage parents and youth workers to pay attention to three television events: The MTV Movie Awards, the Teen Choice Awards, and the MTV Video Music Awards (the VMAs). Next Sunday, September 13th is the MTV VMAs.

MTV’s VMAs always provide a revealing look not only to what bands and artists our kids are listening to, but also a peek into the type of content the top songs and videos are filled with. Every year I write an article the day after the event providing my take on the show (see my last year’s two cents here).

This year kids are already logging onto to cast their votes (you can see what else kids are finding on here, I blogged about that last week). Today as I jumped on, it asked me to cast my vote for the best new artist. We can actually gain insight from merely peeking at just a few of the nominees.

One of the choices was a dark song from the band 3OH!3 titled “Don’t Trust Me.” This catchy song hit the Top 10 of Billboard’s HOT 100 at the beginning of the summer and has been hanging in the charts since. You can watch the video right on MTV’s Best New Artist nominee page, or, for a peek at the unedited lyrics, look here.

Another “New Artist” kids can vote for is Drake with his video for Best I Ever Had. I blogged about this song and video a couple weeks ago.. a song with a chorus that simply repeats, “You’re the f***ing best…” I find it literally amazing that this song is popular (currently on the Top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100).

That is just a glimpse of the kind of content our kids are being inundated with.

Learn more by watching the show yourself on September 13th (just put the kids to bed first). Or, if you can’t stomach it, wait until the next day and you can catch my synopsis on our YOUTH CULTURE WINDOW page (yep, I’ll do the dirty work for ya!).

Bi-curious With MTV

Posted on: 09/2/09 10:48 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Two bi-curious girls in bed together “exploring their sexuality?”

You might think this kind of content is reserved for late night HBO or “SkinaMax”… right?

Try MTV. And if your kids don’t have access to the MTV channel… do they have access to the internet? Because when you pull up today, this ad pops in your face:


A few years ago Nielsen Media Research reported that MTV was the most recognized network among young adults age 12 to 34, watched by 73% of boys and 78% of girls age 12 to 19. (

MTV is still the hub of youth culture, not only on TV, but also on the web. Now if our kids miss the threesome on Real World Cancun that everyone is buzzing about, they can just watch complete episodes on the web, “unsensored,” as puts it. Today they can watch the episdode where two bi-curious girls “explore their bi-sexuality.” (go ahead- see what our kids are watching- watch the first 60 seconds of this show – after the ad- where it says, “Previously on The Real World.”) Some of our kids will not bother with the whole episode. They’ll just click on the “unsensored clips” link from MTV’s front page and watch a little menage-a-trois.

How does MTV get away with this? Simple. No nudity and bleeping out profanity.

Harmless, right?


Do you know where your kids are browsing?

I’ll give parents similar advice to what I gave in my blog, “You Mean the Lyrics Do Affect Me?”


1. Find out what your kids are watching. Do your kids watch MTV? Do they browse on Check their browsing history. Ask them what they are watching.

2. Don’t over-react when you find out what they’re watching. If you don’t know what to say, just say, “We’re going to talk about this sometime soon.” Spend some time praying before you react. (Remember the stupid stuff you did as a kid!)

3. Engage in a healthy dialogue with your kids about what they are watching. Note: I didn’t say, “PREACH TO THEM ABOUT THIS!” The emphasis here is more about LISTENING than talking. As a parent, I’m always looking for opportunities to dialogue with my own kids about anything. As a youth worker, I’m always looking for real issues that kids want to discuss. Music, TV and movies are something that they will often be excited to talk about. Use this an open door to discuss our character. (I have provided some good discussion questions in this previous blog about music)

4. Don’t be afraid to take the advice I always offer parents. I recommend using two buttons on your remote control often: The “pause” button, and the “off” button!  The “pause” button is great to use when watching something as a family and you encounter content that opens the door to good discussion.  The “off” button is a good button to use when shows cross the line.  Personally, I block MTV.  This channel has no salvageable content whatsoever.