The “Clean” Versions

Posted on: 10/10/11 12:27 PM | by Jonathan McKee

iTunes is at it again, showing way too much to those who are way too young. This week their number one video features guys in their speedos literally waggling their penises. (Yes, I just said “penis.” I wonder how many explicit-content blockers are going to block out my blog today for that?)

I’m sorry for my candid description, but there is really no other way to describe this video that many of our kids have been watching the last couple of weeks, and when I say “many of our kids”… I’m speaking lightly. This video is the number one downloaded video on iTunes right now, a video where they mean it when they say, “I’ve got passion in my pants and I ain’t afraid to show it.”

Check it out for yourself. Jump on iTunes. Look at the right side of the page where it says TOP CHARTS. Now click the MUSIC VIDEOS button to see the top 10 music videos. Currently #1 is the song, Sexy and I Know It, by LMFAO. Now click the play button if you dare.

That’s what many of our teenagers are doing. My own daughter Ashley was hanging with some friends last week and they all were gathered around a laptop watching this video (I tell that story and more about this particular song in this week’s Youth Culture Window article, “Sexy and I Know It”).

Here’s the kicker. This video is apparently “clean.” Let me show you what I’m talking about. Go back to iTunes front page and look to the right at the TOP CHARTS again. Click on MUSIC VIDEOS again. Now, just above where you just clicked MUSIC VIDEOS, click SEE ALL. You’ll now be on a page with a black background that has the top 200 music videos listed.

Notice that some of these music videos have the little red EXPLICIT box under the title. You’ll see the EXPLICIT label on Lil Wayne’s song How to Love and Maroon 5’s Moves Like Jagger. But interestingly enough, you won’t see an EXPLICIT box next to Sexy and I Know It.

I guess penis-waggling isn’t explicit.

That’s the trick. No nudity, no language= CLEAN.

Let me show you another example. (I’ll take you on the same tour I take parents through in my parenting workshops, like the one I’m teaching this weekend at a Grand Island church on Sunday near Buffalo, NY) . Look on that same page with the top 200 videos. Look at #8 right now, it’s currently (as I write this blog) Super Bass by Nicki Minaj. Notice the little box under the words Super Bass. What does it say?


This video goes as far as to tell us, and our kids, that this video is CLEAN. If you click on the video, the video page details that this song has CLEAN LYRICS. So click on the preview and watch 30 seconds of the video. You’ll see a bunch of girls dancing provocatively with their underwear showing. If you watch the whole video you’ll see them give a lap dance of sorts to some of the male dances.


I could go on. Like the #9 video (as I write this), Katy Perry’s Last Friday Night video, but I already blogged about the content of that song.

If you spent 10 minutes clicking through many of these “non-explicit” videos I think you’ll start to get a taste for what the world deems “clean.” The fact is, when our kids are watching videos like Gaga’s You and I or Perry’s Teenage Dream… they’re seeing casual sex with “no consequences” …extremely racy stuff, and all of it “non-explicit” because there’s no nudity and no language.

How Should We Respond?
We probably could get all upset at iTunes and demand better labels or even censorship… but let’s be honest… would this even be a problem if parents were setting boundaries and having regular conversations about what their kids are clicking on?

Sadly, many parents just don’t know what their kids are watching, listening to and clicking. I know this because every time I spend even 15 minutes at my parent workshop exposing them to the content on TV and iTunes, they always come up to me and say, “I had no idea!”

So what should parents do? (with links to more reading about these issues)

1. Parents need to realize that the world’s definition of acceptable and “clean” is probably a little skewed right now. Don’t let the world tell you what’s okay for your kids to watch. PG-13 doesn’t necessarily mean acceptable and Rated R doesn’t necessarily mean “bad.”

2. Parents need to become educated about the culture our kids live in. I try to help you with this with my parent workshops, this BLOG (subscribe for free) and our weekly YOUTH CULTURE WINDOW articles.

3. Parents need to not over-react, but respond in a reasonable and consistent dialogue with our kids about the media messages they are seeing and hearing.

Jonathan talks about this in much more detail in his parenting book, Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent.

Middle School Survey

Posted on: 10/7/11 11:31 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I love asking kids  what they’re thinking, watching, listening to…

My friend Rob has been taking surveys in the most interesting of locations. Rob runs an amazing ministry  in Granite Bay, CA (home of many of the Sacramento Kings players and families). Rob is on campus at several schools every week. One is a very “well off” high school campus, and another is an older community surrounded by apartments, fairly racially diverse (about 60% white, 20% hispanic, 10% black, 10% asian). It’s to this middle school that he offers a weekly “breakfast club” where over 100 kids come out each week for breakfast, conversation and just hanging out with adults that care.

Rob started taking a weekly survey at this breakfast club. When kids walk in they are offered this optional survey and a pen. Kids are growing to love these surveys and often anticipate it when they walk through the door, “Where’s this week’s survey?!!” Usually over 80% of the kids take the survey.

Rob and I talked about these surveys last week and I offered a few ideas for questions. One of the ones he implemented was “What is the last artist you listened to on your iPod?”

Here’s his results from this week’s survey– a fun peek into the mind of today’s middle schooler:  (the question, followed by the number of answers)

Please circle your first choice…

Would you rather…
1.    Be good looking  – 50
Be really smart – 33

Would you rather…
2.    Play sports in high school – 61
Play in the band – 22

Would you rather…
3.    Be rich – 30
Be happy – 51

Who was the last artist you listened to on your ipod?
4.    ______________________I have an actual list (per your suggestion) but summary 30 hip hop, 10 pop , 3 country  (Top answer: Lil Wayne, 2nd Eminem)

Does the music you listen to influence your life?
5.    Yes – 48
No – 32

If you had a family emergency is there an adult on campus you could talk to?
6.    Yes – 43
No – 38

I LOVE questions 5 and 6. Are you surprised at the percentages? (over a third of kids surveyed think the music doesn’t influence them… and almost exactly half of them don’t have an adult on campus they feel they could talk with- interestingly, those who checked “yes” probably meant Rob)


What questions would you like to see on this survey? (Rob does this weekly and I’m sending him ideas)

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Best Movie Quotes- Contest Winners

Posted on: 10/6/11 5:02 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Earlier this week I announced a fun little contest where you submitted your favorite movie quotes. The top 5 quotes win the new Lion King BluRay/DVD combo (I’ve been seeing this movie everywhere this week—Wal Mart, Costco, Best Buy. I already got mine… such a good film!)

Before I announce the winners, let me tell you, this wasn’t an easy choice. Soooooooooooo many of these were good quotes. It was hard choosing 5 winners. And my wife and daughters are really bummed that there aren’t any While You Were Sleeping quotes in the bunch (“Are you sure? Because it looks like he’s…leaning.”)

But here are the 5 that struck a chord with me upon first reading. I chose about 10 and my daughter Ashley (quite a movie buff) selected the 5 winners:

“I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.” -Lloyd Dobler – Say Anything
Penny, parent in Lincoln, CA

“I am nothing special; just a common man with common thoughts, and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten. But in one respect I have succeeded as gloriously as anyone who’s ever lived: I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul; and to me, this has always been enough.” – Noah Calhoun – The Notebook
Randi Lynn – youth pastor with my husband in Des Moines, IA

“Do or do not. There is no try.” -Yoda –Star Wars
Tyler Rody, youth worker, Virden, MB

“Go that way, really fast. If something gets in your way…turn.”  -Charles DeMar – Better Off Dead.
Adam, youth worker, Freehold, NJ

“How do you write women so well?”
“I think of a man and I take away reason and accountability.” –Melvin –As Good As It Gets
Trisha, youth worker, Owensboro

Just so you know, we almost chose the Dr. Strangelove quote, the Remember the Titans quote, the My Blue Heaven quote and others. Tough choice.

Okay… if you’re a winner use the CONTACT US button on this blog to email me your mailing address and I’ll get this Lion King BluRay/DVD Combo in the mail to ya!

For the rest of you… keep checking out our free MOVIE REVIEWS & QUICK Q’s page on both our web pages (4YM and 4Parents) where we provide movie reviews as well as discussions questions that help you dialogue with your kids about what you just watched.

I Need One Minute

Posted on: 10/4/11 3:59 PM | by Jonathan McKee

This Saturday I’m running for you! (Yeah, that’s a lot for a guy who eats this much!)

I know, I know. A lot of people have their hands out in this tough economy, but hear me out really quick, because this is something I really believe in and support with my own wallet. For those of you who enjoy this blog, our articles, and/or the free resources we provide, I ask that you give me just one minute to tell you what I’m doing. Really! 1-minute- start your watch!

10 years ago my wife and I started a non-profit helping youth workers reach kids. Our ministry was simple: speaking, training and equipping. Whenever someone hires me to speak, train or do parent workshops, the check is made out to our 501c3, The Source for Youth Ministry. All those funds, plus our once a year fund raiser this Saturday, help keep the resources free on our websites and

I only do this once a year… and the day is this Saturday. Saturday I’m running in our once a year fund-raiser to help keep the resources we provide you free.

Here’s where you come in. As you know, when my hand is out… it is usually holding something that you can use (as apposed to asking you for money). Our websites have literally thousands of free resources, and only one page where you can buy something (books for further reading, if you really must). All our curriculum, articles, training tools, games, skits, discussions… all of it… is 100% free. No gimicks, no special codes… just free stuff you can use. Those of you who have used our websites know this. I don’t need to go on.

If you are a parent or a youth worker who benefits from the free resources we provide, you can help me help you this Saturday. I’m running, and you can sponsor me. I don’t care how much. Sponsor $10, $25, $50 or $100. Help me continue to help you!

It’s simple. Pop on our SPONSOR/DONATION page for our ENDURE EVENT that I’m running in this Saturday, you can donate with paypal, VISA, or MC. All costs are already covered for this event, so every cent you donate goes straight to our ministry providing free resources around the world. The Source is a 501(c)(3), Federal Tax I.D. #47-0855213, and is able to provide FREE resources to youth workers because of people like you. You can do a general donation or sponsor me specifically (it doesn’t matter, it goes to the same place).

Thanks for taking a minute. Please pray and see if God lays on your heart to give to this ministry. I won’t ask again until one year from now.  🙂


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Your Favorite Quote Contest

Posted on: 10/3/11 4:34 PM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s time for me to give away another great prize… I’ve got 5 of the brand new Lion King BluRay/DVD combos right here and I’m going to give them away to the 5 people who submit the best movie quotes.

If you’ve subscribed to my blog for even a short while then you’ve quickly discovered that I love movies. So what better contest is there than to have you guys send me your favorite movie quotes. I’ll choose the best 5 and send those people the new Lion King BluRay (about time this was released in 1080p!)

It’s simple. Just send me the following:

  1. Your Name and city you live in
  2. Whether you’re a youth worker or a parent
  3. Your favorite movie quote, the character who said it, and the movie.

An example of a good quote. Lori and Alyssa just watched Gone With the Wind last week and the next day Alyssa was quoting:

No, I don’t think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.

Or from one of my favorite films, A Bronx Tale:

Only three things you can do in jail: Lift weights, play cards, or get into trouble.

What did you do?

I read.

I’ll look at the comments you all post this Thursday night, choose my five favorites and post the 5 winners Friday. Just make sure you use the comment feature of my blog and obey the directions above.

Side note: Lion King is probably one of my favorite Disney films. I was just sent a copy of it on BluRay… so cool in high res! It hits the shelves Tuesday, October 4th.