Vol. 3 Issue 51 | December 22, 2017
Three Things This Week
1. Teens Are Sober?
What it is: Monitoring the Future, a national survey of teens that’s been conducted since 1975, found the number of teens abusing prescription and illicit drugs is the lowest it’s been since the ‘90s.
Why it's not all good news: Though drug use is down and marijuana use has not increased, there’s a new kid in town: vaping. 1 out of 3 high school seniors reported having tried vaping. Many of those surveyed admitted to not actually knowing what they were vaping. “Vaping has become a new delivery device for a number of substances, and this number will likely increase in the years to come.” These trends are concerning because of the lack of research on and understanding of the effects of vaping, as well as because many harmful chemicals can be present in e-liquids. To learn more about vaping, as well as how to talk with your kids about it, check out our brand-new Parent’s Guide to Vaping.
2. Disney’s Big Buy
What it is: The Walt Disney Co. acquired the film and TV arms of 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion.
Why it's a big deal: The union of these two Hollywood heavyweights means Disney now owns the rights to the Star Wars and Marvel universes, as well as hit TV shows like “Modern Family” and “The Americans”. Even more strategic, the merger also includes Hulu. But why does it matter? Because story is the currency of human contact. If you want to know what a culture values, listen to her stories. Whoever owns the stories owns the culture. It’s not hard to imagine a world where “all the major media providers are owned by three or maybe four companies”, leading to less diversity, independence, and creativity in both the entertainment and political spheres. Programming will ultimately aggregate to the largest audiences, meaning more blockbuster entertainment designed to titillate and coddle, but less artistry created to challenge and change us. Mass produced entertainment “gives you a predictable pleasure, art leads to transformation.” But, it’s also risky, sometimes too risky for a bottom-line driven corporatocracy.
3. Liza Koshy
Why Gen Z loves her: This self-made social media star is in many ways the voice of Gen Z, self-deprecating, funny, and “authentic,” delivering bite-sized content across multiple platforms. Known primarily for her original content (Jet Packinski), her Beats ads get four times as many clicks as other Beats ads with A-list celebrities like Tom Brady. Koshy admits, “my bosses are a bunch of 11-year-olds,” reminding us that the next generation is influenced just as much by the “approachable” YouTube star than Hollywood influencers like Taylor Swift or Kendall Jenner. Ask your teens why Liza is so appealing, and why she’s so easy to identify with.
Speaking Out of Both Sides of Our Mouths
“It’s the sexual ‘revolution’!” “It’s the patriarchy!” “It’s the way women dress!”
Or maybe it’s us.
As more prominent, powerful men are accused of sexual harassment, we’re quick to point fingers at others and at systemic gender injustices. But what if we need to take a closer look at ourselves?
Somehow, despite all the outrage over these men, songs like “Rockstar” by Post Malone (graphic language), “Strip That Down” by Liam Payne (of One Direction), “No Limit” by Cardi B (graphic language), and “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran continue to top the charts, while shows like Game of Thrones and Orange Is the New Black set viewership records and amass awards. At the same time, celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj build their entertainment empires on their bodies, with Kardashian evenclaiming to empower herself and other women through her nude photos. Hollywood’s double standard is hard to stomach. An industry built on the sexual objectification of women (sometimes even by women) somehow seems shocked that their products have serious consequences in the real world. Even more troubling, the Christian community isn’t immune. A national survey discovered Christian men view porn at almost an identical rate as non-believers. We cannot bemoan a sexualized culture while passively participating in it through our own private media choices.
So, instead of continuing to mindlessly consume movies, songs, advertisements, and shows that treat women and men as objects, practice media discernment. For starters, that will require us to know what’s happening in culture without endorsing it. Meaning, as tempting as it might sound, we can’t just hide from it altogether.
Here are some suggestions for helping the whole family become informed and more discerning in your day to day media choices:
- Try reading the lyrics of any of these songs out loud as a family (just “bleep” the profanities). What happens when the music is removed? Would it be okay for a guy to say these things to a woman? Why or why not? Does adding the music make it okay to sing the words? Does it make it more okay when a woman like Cardi B sings them?
- Rather than watching the shows, read up on them. What about the show are people so enamored or outraged over? How could these scenes or storylines contribute to the harassment epidemic we’re seeing? Ask your teens what their favorite show is, and then ask them how that show portrays male/female relationships.
- Watch this clip of rap artist Eve responding to Minaj’s recent magazine cover. What about her response is positive? What could she have done better? Do you think celebrities like Minaj and Kardashian would continue to use their sexuality if no one paid attention? How can our response to such images either contribute to or help fix the problem?
Rather than using one side of our mouths to publicly decry the harassment epidemic while simultaneously using the other side to sing along, let’s be part of the mission to change the culture by changing the demand. If these cultural artifacts were no longer profitable, they wouldn’t continue to be made. But we don’t decrease the demand for them alone; we do it by spreading the word, bringing others along with us, and teaching our teens to do the same.
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