Issue 02 | February 9, 2015

Issue 02 | February 9, 2015

SUMMARY: Kanye is at it again, Brian Williams' credibility is questioned, and 50 Shades of Grey comes to the silver screen.

Weekly Rundown

This week's major pop culture happenings:




The singer-songwriter Beck's win was the shock of Sunday night, as his "Morning Phase" album beat out both the night's top winner, Sam Smith, and the category's expected winner, Beyoncé. Sam Smith, however, didn't go home empty-handed: He won four Grammys, including Best New Artist and Record of the Year. Beck, who also won Best Rock Album, seemed as surprised as the rest of the audience when he won the award and appeared to be looking around for help. That's when Kayne West stormed the stage in an apparent throwback to his 2009 MTV VMA debacle.

However, whether or not he was actually joking came into question when Kayne had this to say in an interview afterward:

I just know that the Grammys, if they want real artists to keep coming back, they need to stop playing with us. We ain't gonna play with them no more. And Beck needs to respect artistry, and he should've given his award to Beyoncé. Because when you keep on diminishing art and not respecting the craft and smacking people in their face after they deliver monumental feats of music, you're disrespectful to inspiration. And we as musicians have to inspire people who go to work every day, and they listen to that Beyoncé album, and they feel like it takes them to another place.

What place is that, exactly? Your guess is as good as ours. Did Beyoncé actually write a single song on her new album? And lyrically, over half of the album is tagged as explicit, and the album was released with videos that are bordering on, if not actually, pornography. Beck's album, on the other hand, was written 100% by Beck himself and not a single track is tagged as explicit.

Discussion Questions: Is Kanye right? Was it wrong for Beck to win the Grammy over Beyoncé? Why or why not? What goes into deciding who wins the awards? Is it objective or subjective? Is Kayne thinking more highly of himself than he ought? (See Romans 12:3)



The long-time journalist Brian Williams, anchor of the NBC Nightly News, came under scrutiny for possibly misrepresenting details of stories he has covered in the past, including how close his aircraft came to being hit by missiles when he was in Iraq. Brian "I-fought-with-the-300-at-Thermopylae" Williams' "misrepresentations" beg the questions, "When is lying lying?" "Is embellishing a story lying?" "Is there anything wrong with telling a 'white' lie?"

Actually, we wanted to know where "white lie" originated and what it meant, so we did a little sleuthing. The term was first used in the eighteenth century, when it suggested something slightly different:
A certain Lady of the highest Quality . . . makes a judicious Distinction between a white Lie and a black Lie. A white Lie is That which is not intended to injure any Body in his Fortune, Interest, or Reputation but only to gratify a garrulous Disposition and the Itch of amusing People by telling Them wonderful Stories.
--from The Gentleman’s Magazine, 1741.

Discussion Questions: What does God's word tell us about lying? Are "white lies" as defined in 1741 biblical? Are "white lies" as we use them today biblical? Why do you think God takes such a hard stance against lies? Is there an instance where you think lying is good and beneficial?




WARNING! Though this series is extremely popular, even with Christian teens, it may not yet be appropriate to talk about with younger teens. We'll let you be the judge.

This weekend, the movie based on the best-selling book Fifty Shades of Grey will be released. The film is being released on Valentine’s Day Eve, which is ironic because, though the day is all about expressing romantic love and affection, the movie is about ANYTHING but. Many have said that the literary quality of the books is abysmal at best, but that doesn't matter in today's culture--it's all about the story. So what's the actual storyline of 50 Shades??

The books and movies are entirely about a cold, sadistic millionaire and his seduction of a young, innocent girl into a world of sadomasochistic sex. If you are unaware of what sadomasochism is (S&M for short) it is extreme acts of violence and abuse for sexual pleasure. There's not much of a plot. There's no big surprise or big plot twist or ending. It is an entire book/movie series about a controlling man who seeks to dominate and act out his deviant sexual pleasures with an unsuspecting virgin girl. This blog by Fight the New Drug is a great place to start talking with your students about what the series is teaching us about sex.

Ask Your Students: What messages does our culture send us about sex and sexual desire? Does this book/movie help or harm society? Why? Even if this book/movie doesn't make you want to be like either of the characters, in what other ways can it affect how you think or what you desire? As Christians, should we read books or watch movies like this? Why or why not?

We'd love to hear from you if there are any topics that you'd like us to address in future versions of the Culture Translator. Please click here to submit your ideas!