Issue 14 | May 8, 2015
SUMMARY: Issue 14 covers the new Jason Derulo song, beauty standards, and music buying habits.
WHAT STUDENTS ARE LISTENING TO THIS WEEK
- “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa Ronson feat. Charlie Puth (Tribute to Paul Walker; What happens after you die)
- “Trap Queen” by Fetty Wap (“Bad girls” are good)
- “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars (Partying and identity)
- "Earned It (50 Shades of Grey)" by The Weeknd (Love must be earned)
- “Shut Up And Dance” by Walk the Moon (Being a victim of destiny/fate)
- "Sugar” by Maroon 5 (Relationship based on sex)
- “Love Me Like You Do” by Ellie Goulding (Identity-defining relationship; codependency)
- “Want to Want Me” by Jason Derulo (See below)
- “Nasty Freestyle” by T-Wayne (Identity/Being the best)
- “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran (Unconditional love)
DESIRING MORE THAN “WANT TO WANT ME”
Jason Derulo has been turning out hit after hit in the last couple years. His newest single, “Want to Want Me,” is just as catchy—and just as sexual—as his other work. Joining the likes of “Talk Dirty,” “Wiggle,” and “Trumpets,” “Want to Want Me” bases relationship solely in desire, which, in turn, is based solely in sexual attractiveness and prowess. Some key lyrics:
? I tipped the driver 'head of time, get me there fast. I got your body on my mind, I want it bad. Oh, just the thought of you gets me so high. Girl, you're the one I want to want me. And if you want me, girl, you got me. There's nothing I wouldn't do just to get up next to you. ?
When lyrics like these are backed by the soft-core porn imagery in the music video, it’s no wonder that students are having a harder and harder time following God’s beautiful design for sex and relationships. Their imaginations are continuously being hijacked by catchy tunes and watered-down versions of love that are purposefully made to look extremely desirable.
But this constant barrage cannot be overcome by one “the birds and the bees” talk from parents and a few “don’t have sex so you don’t get STDs or have a baby” talks from other adults. We need to replace the world’s story for sex/relationships with a better story. God’s design is the only way to truly flourish and to find true pleasure, not just a bunch of rules to follow. Let’s help students understand that.
Discussion Questions: What are some ways we can help students comprehend why God’s design is best? What are some ways we can help students understand the emptiness that comes from anything the world offers? How can we invite students into a bigger story than “doing the right thing”? How can we incorporate talking about how media portrays sex into educating students?
BEAUTY STANDARDS: PUTTING ON THE PRESSURE
Iggy Azalea and Britney Spears dropped a new single, “Pretty Girls,” this week, and it’s exactly what you’d think: a song emphasizing that girls who fit our culture’s narrow standards of beauty get what they want simply for being pretty.
Yet other messages gained steam this week, too. A software company began the #ItWasNeverADress campaign by redesigning the age-old symbol commonly used to mark women’s bathrooms as a way to get people to rethink gender stereotypes.
At the same time, Amy Schumer, a stand-up comedian and actress, started the trending #GirlYouDontNeedMakeup with the release of a music video in which young men tell her she doesn’t need makeup to be beautiful, but quickly change their minds once they see her bare face. She used the video and subsequent hashtag to expose how warped our beauty ideals have become because of makeup, editing, and media.
So when articles about increasing teen depression and anxiety come out, we shouldn’t be surprised. As needed as a redefinition of beauty is, students haven’t really bought it yet. The narrow standards of beauty go deep in our culture and hearts, so when the vast majority of images they see still conforms to these standards, it can be hard to see a person in the mirror who isn’t perfect and actually believe he/she is beautiful.
Yet the definition of beauty isn’t the real issue; it’s that we continue to base a person’s worth in their physique. Until we stop doing that, no redefinition of beauty will change things. We need to give students a better story, one that places their value in something other than physical appearance.
Discussion Questions: In light of 1 Samuel 16:7, how can we help students begin seeing themselves and others as God sees them? How can we lovingly invite them into a bigger story that shifts focus away from self and onto Christ?
SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW: YOUR MUSIC BUYING HABITS ARE INFLUENTIAL
Music has been changing. The Internet had made it more accessible and, let’s face it, easier to download illegally. Grooveshark, the first-ever music streaming service, was pulled from the web this week, with apologies for not paying artists for their art. In response, streaming services like Rdio, Pandora, and Spotify have shifted the way revenue is created. Instead of purchasing actual songs, either listeners pay for monthly music subscriptions or ads between songs bring in the dough. This has scared some artists into writing op-eds for magazines about paying artists better. In addition, Taylor Swift has refused to let her music be a part of a music "experiment" and removed it from Spotify, while the rapper Jay-Z created an artist-owned (think rich, already-established artists) music streaming service called Tidal in an effort to make sure artists are better compensated for their work.
What does this mean? It means how we gain access to music is more important than ever before. Encouraging your students to be the few who pay for their music will influence what is produced (not to mention, it’s the right thing to do). If Christians are the only ones buying, that gives huge incentive for record labels (including the secular ones that own the major Christian labels) to put out music that proclaims truth. The shift in the music industry is a chance for Christians to bring about Christ's kingdom in a realm that's long forsaken Him.
Discussion Questions: In Acts 17, Paul quotes pagan poets to share the Gospel of Christ. Do we know our own “pagan poets” well enough to use them for sharing the Gospel here and now? Does knowing that for-profit, non-Christian companies/people own major Christian labels give you pause as to whether the songs are “safe” to listen to or not? Do you emphasize the importance of art and beauty as much as you emphasize truth to your students? What makes music "Christian"?