Vol. 5 Issue 26 | June 28, 2019
Three Things This Week
What it is: A hoedown-themed dance challenge created by Blanco Brown that has morphed into a TikTok meme sensation.
Why it’s fun...and distracting: Teens are filming their own rendition of the dance craze and posting videos on social media, with millions of videos on TikTok tagged with #GitUp, leading to over 261 million views on the app alone. And that’s just one of the thousands of trends and hashtags on TikTok! Teens who are on TikTok are trying to keep up with and make videos for all of them in a bid to stay relevant and cool or to become a star. Sounds exhausting! Even if your kids aren’t on TikTok, their friends who are might ask them to help film or be part of a video (and yes, 15-second videos can take a long time to make). And while most of it is harmless or in good fun, it’s worth talking about how constantly focusing on the next thing can be a distraction from living a deeper, more fulfilling life.
What it is: Meet Teen Vogue’s “Young Hollywood Class of 2019,” i.e. the top seven stars set to impact the next generation.
Why we should be aware: “Shattering stereotypes...and challenging age-old expectations,” these rising stars are a diverse mix of young talent offering a pluralistic generation racial and sexual representation, as well as a revision to Hollywood’s homogenous, iconic norms. Instead of films like Black Panther or Crazy Rich Asians being cultural outliers, the new Hollywood is appealing to and recognizing a new world of racial and sexual diversity. Read the list with your kids and ask them if they recognize any of the actors. Ask them why diversity on screen matters and how these actors are changing how the next generation views race, sexuality, and gender in positive and potentially negative ways.
3. Gen Z Justice
What it is: Students in Geneva, Switzerland locked themselves inside black metal cages outside UN headquarters to protest child detention facilities at the U.S. and Mexican border.
Why it’s convicting: Gen Z continues to live up to their reputation as a generation of activists who do more than pay lip service to controversial topics. While pundits argue the semantics of whether these incarcerated children are held in “cages” or “chain-link partitions,” students are cutting to the heart of this very biblical issue. Echoing Dr. Russell Moore’s Twitter feed, it should be self-evident that migrant children deserve soap, toothpaste, blankets, and a bed, instead of the inhumane conditions described by eye-witnesses. Why? Because they’re human beings made in the image of God. Regardless of whether your kids have spoken to you about their opinion on this issue, they probably have one. And we’re guessing those opinions aren’t rooted in partisan politics, but in the relational awareness of their shared humanity with these terrified children.
Manipulated by Media?
As summer heats up, so do summer emotions, thanks in no small part to media aimed at teenagers. If your teenagers have been begging you to let them see films like Booksmart, Summer Night, and Good Boys, there’s a good chance you’re frustrated. After all, you can see how those films just use teen tropes to depict “the best summer ever” and get your kids wishing their lives could be as fun, funny, sexy, and exciting. After all, unlike many other genres of film, most movies in the teen romcom (or just com) category are made to give teens what they want in order to make a huge profit. Talk about manipulative! But it’s hard to get them to see what you see: that they are a mere market being manipulated by Hollywood for money.
But when it comes to the media we consume, it’s possible we are just as guilty of being manipulated by labels.
See, when we hear about the latest “faith-based” film, we often flock to theaters in droves, essentially asking movie producers to take our money. It’s almost like that term—“faith-based”—is a signal to turn off our discernment and willingly consume whatever was given that label. When our kids see us forgetting to analyze if a film is well made or true or beautiful or if it asks good questions, instead settling for something that solely makes us feel good, they will do the same. Does that teen movie prey on their emotions? Likely. But does it make them feel good? Yes, so they don’t see what the problem is.
As you disciple your kids in the art of media discernment, invite them into your decision-making process. Maybe the latest faith-based film is actually pretty great; if so, show them what criteria it met besides simply having the right label. Or if you decide to bypass such a film, show them what standards it failed to meet and why you decided it wasn’t worth investing time in or supporting financially. As you do that, you demonstrate how to evaluate media, and then it won’t feel so arbitrary or closed-minded the next time you decide they shouldn’t see a teen film.
Keep the Faith!
The Axis Team
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