1. She’s a 10, But She Deletes the Culture Translator
What it is: A popular meme format explores possible relationship dealbreakers. The meme imagines a hypothetical person who ranks high on the attractiveness scale, but has a habit or quirk that is hard to live with. Discussion then ensues about how big of a deal that less-than-ideal thing is.
Why it has had staying power: “She/he’s a ten, but” can be a simple text-based meme, a TikTok collab, or a conversation-based game that you can play one-on-one or with a larger group. The joke can also be applied the opposite way—what if someone’s “a 5” in the looks department, but is sincere, hopeful, and humbled in their approach to relationships? These memes admittedly place a high value on attractiveness, and we’re never a fan of assigning someone (even an imaginary someone) a numerical value according to the way they look. But it also presents an interesting way of thinking about relationships. What are the things about a person that no level of physical attraction could make up for? What are the things that are infinitely more important than finding a person nice to look at?
What it is: A TikTok trend inspired groups of teenagers to sport suits and ties to the opening weekend of Minions: The Rise of Gru.
Why it’s taking off: Rise of Gru set an Independence Day weekend box office record with an opening of $125 million. For film industry observers, this could signal that families are ready to return en masse to the theater. Ticket sales were undoubtedly boosted by the silly #gentleminions trend, which saw teens showing up to the movies with bananas in their pockets and mischief in mind. Some cinemas in the UK even opted to ban teens dressed up to see the movie, citing vandalism and popcorn-throwing committed by #gentleminions. Some might say it’s a show of irony to attend a Minions movie dressed for a night of sophisticated film, while others might say that the Minion series is the height of mindless movie magic.
3. The Great Gatebreak
What it is: The term “gatekeeper” is the latest word to be co-opted into a social media insult.
Why it means something different now: When previous generations think of a gatekeeper, they may imagine a traditional person of power who controls entrance to an institution—like a college admissions counselor, for example, or a hiring manager at a prestigious company. A gatekeeper may have even held a position of esteem as they were entrusted to maintain their institution’s integrity or traditions. But gatekeepers of any sort have come to be representative of power inequalities, something that Gen Z, as a whole, resents. The idea of a gatekeeper may be met by some teens and young adults with derision. Any person or dividing line that stratifies society, they might reason, is a barrier to correcting systemic injustice. The term is sometimes used in lighthearted ways, too; online, people may be called out as “gatekeepers” for refusing to share information about where to purchase their favorite style of jeans, for example.
Song of the Week
“Me Porto Bonito” by Bad Bunny, featuring Chencho Corleone: almost entirely in Spanish, this raunchy song is about giving up the streets to gain the attention of a girl who the singers, you might say, see as “a 10.” The title roughly translates to “I’ll Behave Nicely,” and the lyrics are mostly about hookups and how attractive this girl is. Alongside other non-English successes like BTS, Bad Bunny’s popularity suggests that the English language may no longer be the gatekeeper it once was for U.S. chart success. For the song, lyrics, and an English translation, click here.
Translation: The Great Gatebreak
Gatekeeping refers to “having access, opportunity, or knowledge—and then keeping it all to yourself. Gatekeepers, at least according to the internet, pull the ladder up behind them and exclude those with fewer opportunities from their space,” according to Sirena Bergman at Insider. She goes on: “Calling out gatekeepers is a core tenet of extremely-online Gen-Z culture which, spurred by the pandemic and the evolution of social media, has come to uphold the democratization of, well, everything, as the ideal.” In this sense, “gatekeeper” would be a natural insult in the eyes of someone committed to equality and equity.
The first impulse for some here may be to critique the economic and social implications of this kind of thinking. These are important conversations. But a higher calling for Christians is always to present the gospel of the Kingdom in ways that will resonate with the concerns of those who hear it.
It could be said that Jesus was truly the great gatebreaker. He spent time with the “sinners and tax collectors” that the Pharisees and teachers of the Law avoided. He spoke to women in public. His ministry offered the love of God to groups far beyond the religious elites; as it says in Ephesians 2:18, “through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” In other words, Jesus came to make God available to every one of us—calling himself not the “gatekeeper,” but the “gate.”
Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “God has no grandchildren.” It means that part of the opportunity for us as parents and caring adults is to usher the rising generation into their own relationships with God—not relationships mediated by us or anyone else. We are all invited to pray to, hear from, and commune with our Creator. Every one of us is offered our own, individual relationship with God, who Jesus came to make available to us.
Here are some questions to spark conversation with your teens:
- What does it mean to you that Jesus gives everyone access to God?
- Is it ever easy for you to take this spiritual access for granted?
- What does it look like for us to follow Jesus in giving access to others?