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.

17 Million Kids Will Be Watching…

Posted on: 02/3/08 9:17 AM | by Jonathan McKee

17 Million.. that’s a lot of kids!

Yes, 17 million kids are watching the Superbowl game this year… AND the commercials. I don’t know about you, but this three hour slot of TV is the one time I actually enjoy the commercials. But that doesn’t stop me from using my TiVo to start the game about 45 minutes late so I have the freedom to skip certain ads (Remember the two girls wrestling in the fountain a couple years ago? That ad had a bunch of parents across the country frantically searching for the remote control!).

Apparantly I’m not the only one concerned. Marin Institute, an “alcohol watchdog group” out of San Rafeal, California, is very concerned, specifically about all the beer commercials. Media Life magazine reports in this article:

Seventeen million kids will be watching Sunday’s game, according to Marin, and alcohol advertising has been tied to increased underage drinking. Considering Budweiser annually produces the funniest, most well-received ads, Marin believes the ads put kids at risk.

“The NFL identifies the Super Bowl as a family-friendly televised sporting event, so their opinion of what family-friendly is is clearly not the same as ours,” says Michael J. Scippa, Marin Institute’s advocacy director. “Nearly 17 million youth watch that every year, and they’re being exposed to very clever, very funny, very powerful brand messaging – and clearly there are strong links between exposure and usage, especially in underage drinkers.”

There are studies to back up that point. A study in the January 2006 edition of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that youth who saw more alcohol advertisements on average drank more.

Studies are revealing that people are drinking at increasingly younger ages, according to this UK article, fueling violence and anti-social behavior.

So I guess it comes down to what’s more important… the health and safety of our kids… or a whole lot of freaking money!


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 UrbanDictionary.com 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…



Poor Taste on TV

Posted on: 01/24/08 11:50 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Last night another new show launched on TV, one that is a pretty good reflection of what America wants to see: scandal, deep dark secrets, controversy… and a whole lot of money at stake.

The show is called The Moment of Truth. It’s like Springer meets Deal or No Deal. The challenge is simple: answer 21 increasingly personal questions honestly, as determined by a polygraph, and win up to $500,000.

Media Life Magazine online described the show like this:

Before the episodes are taped, contestants are hooked to a polygraph machine–a lie detector–and asked 50 to 75 questions, like “Have you ever made a sexy video and uploaded to the internet?,” “Would you cheat on your spouse if you knew you wouldn’t get caught?,” and “Have you ever touched a female co-worker inappropriately?”
The contestants are told 21 of those questions will be asked again on the air but are not told which ones nor how they fared on the polygraph.

They’re free to change their answers the day of the show’s taping, but to win the money the players must tell the truth in front of the camera. The polygraph results serve as a guide.

Surprise surprise. The show did fantastic. Although Media Life didn’t exactly predict a great response… the mid season premier kept 94% of the American Idol audience, becoming the highest rated new show of the season.

I’m not shocked. The more controversy and smut the better the show seems to do. Just look at what Tila Tequila did on MTV last year.

TV seems to provide far less family appropriate shows of late. This year I tried to watch a good amount of the new TV Pilots (I always like to see what teenagers are watching). I saw VERY FEW pilots without at least some sexual content, some very strong sexual content.

In a 2005 Kaiser report, they reported an 10% increase of sexual content in prime time shows from just 1998 to 2005. That doesn’t surprise me at all.

But I was pleased to find out that some strides have been made in family viewing times, the Super Bowl for instance. Go Daddy has had two ads rejected so far. No complaints from me.

I continue to urge parents to make use of two great television resources:

  1. The TIVO or DVR. This gives us the flexibility to not only skip commercials, but pause TV when something happens that might be worth discussing.
  2. The OFF button!

Beyond Will and Grace

Posted on: 01/17/08 8:55 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Beyond Will and Grace. That was the title of a sermon that Bryan Wilkerson gave, posted on Gordon Conwell’s (the Boston seminary) site.

Bryan is the pastor of Grace Chapel in Lexington, MA, one of the first mega churches in New England. He is Haddon Robinson trained (Dr. Haddon Robinson is the preaching professor who- may I be so bold to say- wrote THE book on preaching) and he delivers relevant and compelling Biblical sermons (expository for those who prefer that term- I sometimes don’t use that term because it carries negative connotations. For some expository means “boring” and “not relevant.” I would argue simply that if that’s the case, you haven’t heart good Biblical teaching) every week. Phenomenal preacher.

I enjoyed reading his sermon on Homosexuality because he had the guts to do two things:

  1. Talk about the fact that homosexuality, like all sins, is not’s God’s plan.
  2. Talk about the fact that God’s grace accepts people as they are, but transforms us from the inside out. I quote:

 Grace means that people who struggle with same sex desires are welcome to come to God, just as
they are. God doesn’t ask you to or expect you to straighten out your confusion or overcome your
tendencies first. Just come to Him, in the name of His Son, Jesus

Grace means that sexual offenders can be forgiven, whatever that offense has been. Jesus Christ
received in himself the penalty of that sin, so that you don’t have to be punished for it.

Grace means that you can be healed of your sexual wounded-ness, whether it was inflicted on you
by others, or you brought it on yourself. It doesn’t have to haunt your heart and relationships for the rest
of your life.

Grace means that you can overcome whatever distorted, destructive desires and habits that have
been robbing you of real joy and fulfillment. It will take time, and teaching, and practice, and support,
and probably even failure. But you can overcome it, you can be free from it’s mastery over you, with
God’s help.

Grace means that God can change you, transform you, from the inside out. He can enable you to
embrace the sexual identity God has given you, and help you discover healthy, happy, and honorable
relationships with people of the same and opposite sex. It also means that He can so transform you that
you can discover romantic relationships with people of the opposite sex, and even marriage. Not every
homosexual person experiences that complete transformation, but many do, and many are on the way.

Shout out to Bryan.

I touched on this issue a few years back in an article on the web site and took a little heat from it. It’s ironic. I divided the issues, talking about 1. The fact that it’s wrong  2. The fact that we as a church have been responding poorly for years and need to respond like Christ would have responded.

I took heat for both.

I stand by both.

Dare 2 Share’s Greg Stier just spoke at the YS NYWC and made a statement about homosexuality being wrong (the same story he shared in our podcast #3), and he took heat for that. But he still stands by it.

Good for Greg.

Frankly, I think we should always take heat for two things- in this order: 1. Being extra loving and gracious. 2. Choosing to do right, when the world offers us other alternatives.

It’ sad. For years as a church we’ve failed miserably in the area of grace. We’ve been inconsistant, hypocritical and dare I say “hateful” to homosexuals when they are just fellow strugglers. In other words, some of the Christians who are out picketing homosexuals are gossips, cheats, or secretly addicted to porn.

So now the church feels guilty, and instead of changing our attitude of Grace… we’re changing our theology about Homosexuality and saying it’s okay now… after all, that’s more politically correct.

Unfortunately it’s not right.

God’s standard will never cease. And thank goodness, neither will his Grace!

 Don’t forget to love the sinner… you are one!

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.