Issue 11 | April 17, 2015
SUMMARY: Issue 11 covers: YouNow, Prom Spending, Kim Kardashian, Selfies, The MTV Movie Awards, and more.
This week’s major pop culture happenings:
- Check out the new Star Wars trailer
- Madonna kissed Drake on stage at Coachella
- Jack White asks concert-goers to put away phones; becomes trend on Twitter
- Nelly arrested for weapon and drug charges
- Furious 7 nears 1 billion at box office
- New details for a Google wireless plan have been leaked
- Apple Watch pre-sales surpass 2.3 million
- Daredevil released on Netflix
- The new Antman trailer has been released
WHAT STUDENTS ARE LISTENING TO THIS WEEK
This week’s top songs as ranked on the Billboard Hot 100*:
- “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa Ronson feat. Charlie Puth
- “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
- “Sugar” by Maroon 5
- “Trap Queen” by Fetty Wap
- “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran
- “Earned It (50 Shades of Grey)” by The Weekend (see below)
- “Love Me Like You Do” by Ellie Goulding
- “G.D.F.R.” by Flo Rida ft. Sage The Gemini & Lookas
- “Shut Up And Dance” by Walk the Moon
- “Style” by Taylor Swift
*In case you missed any previous issues, click on the links above to read our analyses of these songs.
APP YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT: YOUNOW
“If you haven’t heard of YouNow, you’re probably old,” begins a recent article from Yahoo Tech. Why? Because it seems that YouNow is where all the teens are. YouNow is exactly as the name describes: an app that allows you to broadcast yourself to the world as you are right now.
If you happen to fall into the category of people who hadn’t heard of YouNow before today, don’t worry. You’re not the only one wondering what the appeal of watching someone sleep is or why anyone would want to broadcast the mundane details of their everyday lives using #bored. But clearly, the appeal is not lost on youth. In fact, much of the appeal is likely similar to what attracted teens to Snapchat: It’s real. It’s unedited. It’s instant. And one does not have to look perfect, do something amazing, or be particularly talented to gain a following.
Which, we believe, is also an indication that some of the app’s appeal lies in its promise of community. Younger generations are starving for true connection and a place to feel comfortable, at ease, and fully themselves, flaws included. The YouNow community provides that, albeit only a shadow of what true, physical community can and should provide.
Of course, we adults see the major risks and potential issues that could arise from such a concept. And while many of these concerns are real and should be addressed, let it also be another form of education about younger generations. And since, as the article points out, the app has already been used for good, let’s not simply react out of fear and ban the app altogether, but instead come to an understanding of what the app does well and what it doesn’t, then learn how to put wise limitations around teens’ use of the app.
Ask Your Students: Why do we feel the need to be famous? To have fans? Do you or any of your friends use YouNow, Meerkat, or other live-casting apps? Why or why not? If you haven’t yet, do you want to? (See Jeremiah 23:24, Proverbs 15:3, Acts 17:24, and Isaiah 57:15)
PROM SPENDING DECLINES—TO HOW MUCH?!
Visa has recently released its annual Prom Spending Survey Research for 2015. While at first glance the results may seem promising—6% less spending than 2014 and almost 20% less than 2013—the details are more embarrassing than a misstep during the Electric Slide.
Visa’s research shows that the average American household plans on spending $324 on “promposals” alone. A promposal is just what it sounds like: proposing to a prospective prom date. This now amounts to a third of total prom spending, which will be around $920 per teen on average. If you think this sounds ridiculous, so does Visa: “Prom is a fun night for kids to get together and dance, but spending $300 plus on a promposal to simply ask your date is exorbitant,” said Nat Sillin, Visa’s head of U.S. Financial Education.
Nat Sillin couldn’t be more correct. However, in a generation where Bridezilla, Say Yes to the Dress, Bride by Design, and other TV shows emphasize spending a lot of money on the things/stuff, ceremonies, food, parties, and flowers more than investing in the relationships themselves, are we surprised that teens are emulating that behavior?
Perhaps we are even enabling that behavior. The report also reveals the amount that parents contribute to the whole night is up from 56% last year to 73% this year. It is also reported that dads will help out 63% more than moms on the promposal. What life lessons is this kind of behavior and spending going to teach the next generation?
The first question we need to ask ourselves is: Are we being good role models for the next generation, showing them where true value lies? And second: in a consumer-driven economy, how are we teaching our children to spend less, especially on themselves?
Ask Your Students: Does spending more money make us happier? Does it make our relationships stronger? Is it possible to still have a good time at an event like prom without spending a lot of money? How can we spend less on ourselves and invest more in others?
Discuss with Other Adults: Are the choices we’re making teaching the next generation what is truly valuable in life? Are we setting our children up for financial success, or an endless cycle of spending more and more of what we don’t have?
KIM KARDASHIAN IS #SELFISH (PART 1)
We should have listened to Andy Warhol. In the 1940s, he predicted, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” If only this were true for Kim Kardashian, whose 15 minutes have turned into 15 years of being famous simply for being famous. Kardashian became an American icon primarily for trailblazing the “Selfie Movement.” In fact, her 30 million followers on Instagram will be excited to hear that Kim is releasing a new book, Selfish, containing over 300 pages of intimate self portraits taken by Kardashian in various stages of dress and undress. “They are only a small fraction of the thousands of selfies we considered for publication.” Thousands? We figured there would be millions.
Kardashian’s narcissism is a glimpse into a global social phenomenon that can be observed simply by logging onto your Instagram account and basking in the incessant duck face photos. Social media is a virtual museum, warehousing thousands of personal pictures from everyone 8 to 80 standing in front of a bathroom mirror trying to get the perfect shot from the perfect angle to project their perfect self.
Snapchat alone processes 350 million photos a day, most of which are selfies. In fact, the phenomenon, like cancer, metastasized the world in 2013, forcing Oxford Dictionary to name “selfie” the word of the year. Posturing in front of a mirror with an iPhone seems the perfect preoccupation for our narcissistic selves. But what is this exposing about our culture and our personal pursuit for significance?
For starters, every culture throughout history has had its own icons, individuals or groups of individuals who embody all we desire to be. In America, it is the celebrity, and more importantly, our unending desire to become one. Technology and social media provide the channels to achieve notoriety, as we project ourselves to as many people as possible. But is this really what it means to be human—spending our lives in desperate pursuit of significance? Is celebrity status really the end goal of human existence, or is there something far more fulfilling?
As Christians, we understand that Jesus came into the world not simply to reveal the nature of God, but to show us what it means to be fully human. Jesus unveils divinity to humanity, but He also reveals humanity to itself. But what are we to make of the fact that God became flesh and lived almost His entire life in obscurity? In direct contrast to our desire to be known, Jesus spent much of His life unrecognizable. In Part 2, we will examine how Jesus modeled the real way toward human significance—not in the pursuit of vain glory, but in the selfless service of others.
Discussion Questions: What about fame is so appealing to human nature? In what ways is the “selfie” mentality good? Bad? How does technology feed into that mentality? Throughout history, were there other popular trends that also fed into self-focus? How did Christians deal with those? Are there principles we can apply from those situations to ours? Why do you think that God says that being others-focused is the better way to live? (See Hebrews 2:17, Isaiah 53:2, Philippians 2:6, Luke 9:48, and Matthew 25:40)
RECAP: 2015 MTV MOVIE AWARDS
Whether or not you allow MTV’s content into your home, their annual Movie Awards and Video Music Awards are great metrics for the values and direction of teen culture. This year’s Movie Awards, which occurred on Sunday, April 12, are no exception. But the best part is that you don’t have to watch all of the nominees and winners in order to understand them, which is why we’ve provided a list of winners in some of the major categories below (see full list and nominees here), as well as links to the Wikipedia articles for each film.
Movie of the Year
Best Female Performance
Shailene Woodley, The Fault In Our Stars
Best Male Performance
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Best Scared-As-S**t Performance
Jennifer Lopez, The Boy Next Door
Best Shirtless Performance
Zac Efron, Neighbors
Ansel Elgort & Shailene Woodley, The Fault In Our Stars
Best WTF Moment
Seth Rogen & Rose Byrne, Neighbors
Best Comedic Performance
Channing Tatum, 22 Jump Street
Discussion Questions: What about these films stands out to you? What does this tell you about teen culture? Why is it important to understand what’s important and/or appealing to teens? Is it a necessary part of growing up to be the irresponsible, immature, self-focused teens that media (especially MTV) propagates as the norm? What does God tell us about taking advantage of and leading youth astray? (See Matthew 18:6, Matthew 7:15-20, Proverbs 22:6, and Deuteronomy 4:9)
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!