Miley Cyrus is like… so popular!

Posted on: 02/6/08 10:14 AM | by Jonathan McKee

If you’re a parent of girls… you know the name.

If you work with junior high girls… they know the name.

If you work with high school girls… they still know the name, but are pretty hush, hush about it.

Miley Cyrus is the hottest thing since the Rubik’s cube! (wow… where did that obscure 80’s reference come from?) 

For those of you who don’t know… Miley’s show Hanna Montana dominates the number one spot on TV for kids, at times keeping up with the big boys.  Her concerts sell out in minutes. Her new concert film just set a web tickets sales record.

As a parent of 10 and 12-year-old girls, I’ve kept my eye on her show. It’s actually pretty good. Most of all- it’s clean.

In this CNN article she was just interviewed about her success. Here’s “like” a snippet:

Q: Your tour was one of the highest-grossing tours, right up there with the Police and Justin Timberlake. What do you think about that?

MILEY: Sometimes, “It’s like wow, I really have to be good.” Especially when you hear what people are doing for tickets. It’s like this is their one chance to see the show and it’s the one night I’m going to be here so it has to be perfect.

Q: Do the problems of other young stars, like Jamie Lynn Spears’ pregnancy, put more pressure on you to set a better example for kids?

MILEY: It does, but I mean those persons don’t have anything to do with me either. So it’s like you just have your own heart and you have your own soul to kind of help you through life.

Q: Do you ever wish that you could just be a regular 15-year-old instead of a teen phenom?

MILEY: I do sometimes, but then again it definitely is fun and it’s been really nice because having my uncle as like my bodyguard and my mom with me and my dad, working with him. My family wants the best for me so they try to find a way so that I can still go out and hang with my friends and also have a normal life of my own.

She’s one to watch. She is by far THE biggest role model in the lives of young American girls today.

She’s had some people trying to pin some garbage on her, but it seems like she’s kept a pretty clean slate.

I admit, I was a little bit discouraged with the dress she wore to the 2007 Teen Choice Awards last year. But, in her defense, that is the way this generation is dressing. And if no one is teaching her differently…


I just know as a dad of little girls… my girls aren’t going out in dresses that advertise that much realestate. (And the guys they date are gonna have a little “sit down” talk with me while I’m cleaning my 12 gage!)

Keep Miley in your prayers. It can’t be easy to be in the limelight like this. But at the same time, I hope she realizes that she’s being watched. With fame comes great responsibility.

What Do Your Kids Really Think?

Posted on: 02/5/08 11:35 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Many of you have already read my blog about Soulja Boy and the truth behind his “Superman” song and dance penetrating schools across the country. A few days later the subject came up again in this blog, and I ended with a quote from a 14-year-old in a chat room:

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

That day, a youth worker named Jason read my blog and decided to do an experiment with this new knowledge. He took a survey with his kids. Here’s what he discovered:

in Ref. to this blog I thought I would sit down with my youth group and pick their brain about music and how we as parents and leaders should deal with the music. Below is the results.

About Music

1. Question should we as parents turn a deaf ear to your music and hope you don’t know what it means?? 58% agree we should turn a deaf ear

2. Should we explain to you what a song means and then if it’s bad (not pleasing to God)..ask you not to listen to it. 52% said we should explain

3. As a Sunday School teacher should I mention if a song is bad? 33% said yes I should

4. 33% said they would keep listening to the song when they realize it’s not pleasing to God

I think Jason had a great idea. I’d love to find out what your kids think!

So try this: take 5 minutes next time you meet with your kids to survey them anonymously (hand out blank scraps of paper and have them number 1-6). Ask them these six questions adapted from Jason’s poll:

  1. Do you think that parents and youth workers should stay out of your music, turn a deaf ear, and hope that lyrics don’t affect you?
  2. Do you think that the lyrics affect you?
  3. If parents or youth workers discover that a song is vile or degrading, should they explain it to you and warn you about it?
  4. How many of you would still listen to it even if you knew the lyrics were bad?
  5. Should parents draw a line and enforce rules of what you can and can’t listen to?
  6. What should that line be? (what criteria should they use?)

(Note: Some of you might think, “This would be a good opportunity to discuss the issues of the stuff we allow in our heads, or compromising.” We’ve got several good resources that you can use as “ready-made” discussions on the topic. Our MOVIE CLIP DISCUSSIONS page has a great one using a clip from the third Lord of the Rings film, and one from 24… but also check out some Object Lessons like the one on Purity, the “Special Brownies” one… etc. Good discussion material.)

Now, about the survey… I only took one statistics class in college, so I’m no expert. But I do know one thing about this quiz: there is crossover in these questions and I think that’s good. It helps us evaluate kid’s true feelings about a subject. Sometimes you have to ask a similar question two different ways to get at the truth. In other words, questions 1 and 3 are really similar. It would be funny if kids answer YES to #1 and YES to #3 (3 is asked in the inverse). We see that trend in Jason’s kid’s answers. 58% said “stay out of our music!” But then 52% turn around and say, “sure, explain a song to us if a song is bad!”  (do they want us to stay out or what?)

Post your results as a comment on THIS BLOG. (and if you aren’t already, don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to this blog so you can stay updated.) I realize it might take a week or two to get results. No worries. But try to take a quick 5 minutes to survey your kids next time you see them in a youth group, bible study, or small group format.

I’ll try to post as many of your stats and comments as possible. More importantly, I’ll post a grand total of all the responses. So stick to the six questions I gave you for our survey.

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. 😛


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?”


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…

why age 12 – 34?

Posted on: 01/15/08 3:39 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Last weekend I was training in Hershey, PA at a large EV FREE church- a fun group of people. In the training, I was sharing some statistics about MTV and mentioned their target audience of 12-34 year olds.

Interesting- a very cool guy that worked for Hershey (yes, in the city of Hershey, PA there are an abundance of Hershey employees. They even gave me chocolate!) was talking to me about why MTV uses age 12 as their starting point. This guy works in the marketing department at Hershey and he said that anything marketed to anyone under 12 qualifies as being marketed to kids (as in “little kids”). He said that once you market to kids (under 12), the government gets really involved, checking safety, etc. (he hinted that it was really a pain to deal with)

It’s interesting, because MTV doesn’t hesitate to show blatent sexual situations, violence (Jackass), bad attitudes… you name it. (I don’t have to give examples… just turn the channel on at random… you’ll see). My guess is that if they admitted that their target audience was under 12, then the government could possibly intervene. Let’s put it this way. If Hershey is told that they have to be careful how they advertise Reeses Puffs cereal because kids might assume they’re healthy… imagine the scrutiny that MTV might have to subject themselves to for their typical broadcasts.



Posted on: 01/9/08 8:56 PM | by Jonathan McKee

The other night Lori and I rented a film that Marko recommended as one of his favorites of 2007. The film is called ONCE and it is described as a “modern day musical.”

I didn’t have any idea of what to expect… and to be honest… during the first few minutes I was wondering what the heck I had got myself into.

In the first few minutes I realized:

  1. This is a low budget independent film. Not always a bad thing, but often it can be.
  2. The film makers are trying what looks like a “documentry” style of shooting. Again, not always bad, but it can be.
  3. We’re going to see a lot of singing… so we better like what we hear.

Within a few minutes I didn’t know what to think. Lori and I looked at each other and both decided we wanted to give it more time.

By 20 minutes we were hooked.

So I’ll say this: give it at least 20 minutes.

Long story short- I REALLY enjoyed this. Lori and I both found ourselves humming some of the songs the next day. Heck, I just bought the sound track

This film won’t be for everyone. It’s a little artsy, and if you don’t like music, you probably won’t like it. Just give it 20 minutes. 20 minutes will tell.

2 negatives:

  1. The film wanders into the realm of adultery… it never goes there… but it flirts with it.
  2. The film was shot across the pond where people seem to rattle off the “f” word like they’re from Boston. So you have to have an “f” word tolerence. Film is clean aside from that.

Give it a try.

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Drum Line

Posted on: 01/7/08 10:35 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I’ve spent the last week of the new year, including New Year’s Eve, being sick. Fun huh?

I’m back to my desk and discoveredt this in my in box. A nice little link from my dad. It’s a little long… so go to 4 minutes if you get board… it starts to really take off:

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