Vol. 2 Issue 15 | April 15, 2016
Three Things This Week
1. Heroes of the Dorm
Why it's important: “Gaming” is gaining prominence and legitimacy (the tournament was covered by ESPN, and winners receive free college tuition for the rest of their college careers), which gives your teen gamers more of a defense when asked how binge-gaming will help them in the real world. And though gaming isn’t in and of itself wrong, it is easier to overindulge in than traditional sports (your body can’t sustain a 12-hour stint of playing basketball). Talk with your sons and daughters about how to keep a healthy perspective on gaming, as well as work with them to set appropriate boundaries.
2. Paypal, Springsteen, & HB2
Why it's important: The Washington Times has appropriately pointed out the hypocritical nature of many of these protests, citing that several of these businesses are still willing to operate in countries with far worse human-rights violations. Should these companies and artists be praised as activists, or are they taking advantage of a political situation for promotional opportunities? Begin a discussion with students about reading beyond the headlines and about what it means to stand up for Christian ethics and morality in the public square, even when it is unpopular or politically incorrect.
3. MTV Movie Awards
Why it's important: Not only are the nominees/winners the films and actors that are influencing the vast majority of teens in the US, but the hosts’ comment is also more important than one might initially realize: Today’s youth want their opinions and ideas to matter (which is probably why having tons of “likes” and followers on social media matters so much—at least someone is paying attention!). One of the best things parents, grandparents, teachers, pastors, administrators, etc. can do in their mission to disciple students is understand that. Discuss issues they want to talk about, listen to the end before offering advice, etc.
The Power of Fame
9 women with songs in this week’s Billboard top 15 are women who’ve been praised (rightfully so) for their talent and hard work. Yet something strange happens once people become famous: Rather than seeking to learn from their creativity/athleticism/etc., students turn them into idols.
Take these nine women as examples. Rihanna’s been hugely successful (“Work” is currently #1), and girls believe that because she overcame an abusive relationship, they should emulate her. Likewise, Ariana Grande said that her new single, “Dangerous Woman,” is all about empowering fans, and so she is praised. Meghan Trainor’s been promoting “body positivity” from the start, therefore our teens think she must be worth listening to, right? And the women of Fifth Harmony are using their fame to support many charitable organizations.
But let’s stop right here. Yes, these women are great examples of working hard to achieve their dreams. And yes, they may be using their influence to do some good. But since when does that mean they’re role models in all areas of life? Why do our students treat them as though they are, following them on social media and allowing their opinions to shape their beliefs?
If we look closer at the messages from these women, we find a hot mess. 5H’s “Work from Home” is all about sex, to the point that the women willingly objectify themselves. Grande’s “Dangerous Woman” is far from empowering—it tells women that empowerment is dependent on another person and is simply doing things they “shouldn’t.” Trainor’s message is the opposite of body positive; she tells girls that it’s ok to be a bigger size as long as a man finds it sexually attractive. And Rihanna’s work has promoted addiction, S&M, unhealthy relationships, extreme violence, and more.
Why does this matter? Because girls are emulating them, to their own detriment. Our role as student leaders is to help our students make sense of the mixed messages they are downloading from pop culture icons and find alternative voices to pattern their life after. But, how do you do that? First, talk with your students about the difference between fame and living a life worth emulating. Second, help your students separate the success from the person. Third, discuss with them what it truly means to be empowered (here’s a great article).