Issue 30 | September 4, 2015

Issue 30 | September 4, 2015



What it is: An iOS app released on July 24 allows users to hide files behind a fully functional calculator. Students of any age can use it to hide files or photos from parents. A special code is used on the calculator to unlock the hidden files..

How it’s important: This is next level duplicity. There may not be anything malicious intended, but the next generation always seems to be one step ahead in the world of technology. An Alabama District Attorney warned parents of the dangers of the app. There are also Android versions (one is Smart Hide Calculator). This is a great opportunity to start a conversation with your student about accountability and personal privacy.



What it is: Halo 5: Guardians released a new trailer this week.

Why it's important: Along with Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, these games promise to be the biggest releases of the fall. While they ask good questions about the use and abuse of technology, will students use them as a learning experience, or will they simply game for countless hours? How are video games altering your students understanding of reality?



What it is: The biggest premier in tv history. AMC’s new show is a prequel to The Walking Dead. This series asks a great question: at what point does your environment impact your morality and decisions?

How it’s good: As with The Walking Dead, the show asks good questions about ethics, morality, life, death, family, and brokenness. It also depicts the hard reality of living in a fallen world.

How it’s bad: It’s less violent than The Walking Dead, but is still dark, depicting the consequences of drug addiction and situational ethics.


For the past 32 years, MTV has hosted the Video Music Awards, celebrating music videos and the artists who create them. MTV continues to push the envelope with their sexually explicit productions, but this year’s show seemed exponentially worse due in large part to its host, Miley Cyrus. And while we cannot recommend the VMA’s based on the overt sexuality, drug references, narcissism, and petty feuds, it does give us a glimpse into the future of pop culture. Like it or not, MTV is a trendsetter, especially among the next generation.

This blog post reminds us that “Culture is a map and a mirror.”

Discussion Questions

How do the VMAs and other awards shows impact culture? Can we even describe this as art? Are the winners chosen based on truth and beauty, or mere popularity? Why does that matter?


1. Sex
Host Miley Cyrus wasn’t the only one to display inordinate amounts of sexual content.

2. Drugs
Cyrus referenced a marijuana laced brownie, Kanye admitted drug use and several videos depict drug abuse.

3. No Rock & Roll
With the exception of Tori Kelly and the drummer from Twenty One Pilots, there were no artists who played instruments during their performances. A majority of the 75 nominations were affiliated with hip hop. Here’s a list of the hottest hip hop songs right now.

4. Nicki Minaj vs. Miley Cyrus
Nicki and Miley’s public feud escalated on stage when Minaj singled-out Miley for slamming her in the press, before saying, “Miley, what’s good?” (Slang for “What’s the deal?” or “What’s up?”) It became a meme.

5. Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber had one of the top performances of the night singing his two latest hits "Where Are Ü Now" and "What Do You Mean?" Unlike his 2014 appearance when he was booed, Bieber received a standing ovation for his performance.

6. Kanye West
Kanye for President memes and GIFs flooded the Internet minutes after Kanye West finished his acceptance speech for the Video Vanguard Award.

7. Taylor Swift
The pop princess still proves to be an American sweetheart after taking home four awards, including Video of the Year. While accepting her award for “Bad Blood,” she stated, “There’s been a lot of discussion about this video and what it means. But I’m just happy that, in 2015, we live in a world where boys can play princesses and girls can play soldiers.” Swift's comment mirrors a society that says there are no longer gender norms.

8. #InstaPride
A group of youth from the Happy Hippie #InstaPride squad captured the impact of the VMA’s on today’s youth with this quote: “Tonight does matter, because of all of the sticky, impressionable minds of our future that are watching all of us right now.”

9. Miley’s Album
At the end of the show, Miley announced a link to stream her new album for free. The album, Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz, literally features songs about her dead pets. It’s vulgar, sexually explicit, and full of drug references—kind of like most Miley things nowadays. What is surprising is that her mentor, Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, produced most of the songs on the album, and quite a few have great musical quality.

10. Commercials
If any TV brand knows its audience, it’s MTV. While the White Squad video was by far the most satirical, the commercials themselves come with ideas that influence viewers. Judging by MTV’s extensive promotion of its new Monday night line-up, most ads are aimed at teens. In fact, the Truth Campaign paid for large time-slots for their anti-tobacco programming. The irony is that a new study shows marijuana overtaking tobacco as the number one substance smoked on college campuses. Adweek breaks down some of the numbers for the VMA commercials.



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