1. Still Kenobi after All These Years
What it is: Ewan McGregor reprises the role of Star Wars’ Obi-Wan Kenobi in a highly-anticipated miniseries for Disney+.
Why it’s got teens bingeing: The first two episodes of six-episode series were released before the Memorial Day Weekend to hook audiences on the show. Obi-Wan Kenobi promises familiar faces (such as Hayden Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker) as well as some new characters (including Reva, played by Moses Ingram). Previous Star Wars shows on Disney+ (see: The Mandalorian) felt more like a spaghetti-western, with the cartoon violence to match. Obi-Wan takes itself a bit more seriously, with a fully cinematic look and feel. There are some visual elements that are a bit jarring (one character is seen dead by hanging in a long-lingering camera shot), and Obi-Wan Kenobi doesn’t shy away from the darker elements of death, destruction, and loss. While the plot focuses on a brave and strong-willed child, it’s not recommended viewing for less mature audiences.
2. Sextortion on the Rise
What it is: The FBI has issued a warning about an increase in sextortion plots targeting teens.
Why you have to talk to your teen about this: So-called “sextortion” typically works like this: an adult, posing as a teen, strikes up a conversation with a minor target over an app, game, or social media platform. The target is encouraged to send an explicit photograph or video. Once this material is acquired, the conversation takes a turn as the perpetrator threatens to publicly release the compromising material if monetary demands aren’t meant. The victims often face panic at this potential humiliation, and sometimes, tragedy ensues. Several victims of these plots have died by suicide already this year. A particular horrifying element of this scheme is how quickly it can escalate — in one case in California, a young man said goodnight to his mother at 10pm and by 2am, was dead by suicide. In another case in Michigan, investigators estimate only six hours elapsed between the first contact with the extortionist and a teenager’s death. You can check out and share the FBI’s tips for what to do in these cases, and you can also let your teens know that if something like this does happen to them, they don’t have to face it alone. They can always talk to you, day or night, and together, you will come up with a solution.
3. BTS Meets Biden
What it is: K-Pop supergroup BTS attended a White House press briefing and met with President Biden on Tuesday.
Why it’s getting a lot of press: BTS met with Biden to discuss the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in the US, as well as the importance of Asian representation in US media. BTS fans, known as the ARMY, tuned in to the press conference en mass, spiking the live audience to over 300,000 viewers. It was a moment of pride for BTS fans, who united under the hashtag #BTSattheWhiteHouse on Twitter. While some critics wondered whether it was appropriate for BTS to be visiting the White House amidst multiple domestic and international crises, BTS fans flooded social media to voice their approval for the band using their platform to spotlight issues important to the Asian community on the last day of Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage month.
Slang of the Week
I purple you: BTS fans’ slang term for “I will trust and love you until the end of time.”
Translation: Sextortion on the Rise
The crime of sextortion might be relatively new, but extortion via sex is not. For as long as humans have been around, people have wielded sex as a weapon to hurt the people around us and get what we want. Things become even more complicated and tragic when money is involved. Humans have a knack for causing incredible pain and suffering to those around us. Sextortion and things like it are just a particularly pernicious part of this. It leverages both the human desire for connection and closeness, and our pride and fear of feeling shame.
To understand how easily sextortion can happen, put yourself in the headspace of a teenager. Social media has, perhaps, made you lonely and desperate for connection. Someone offers that connection, someone seemingly innocent and just as lonely as you are. All they ask for in return is a sensitive picture. If you’re a teen, you’ve likely seen in movies and on the internet that taking nude pictures is basically normal. So you send one, or some, and the next thing you know, the full weight of what you’ve done comes crashing down as the person you think you’ve connected with turns out to be your enemy. Even for the most confident and outgoing teen, it can feel like there’s no way out of this.
It’s essential that you have conversations with your teen about this, because it can happen to anyone. Connection is something that humans crave right in the core of our being. When we’re missing it, and someone offers it, it’s easy to justify doing almost anything to fill that craving. Emphasize to your teen that there is no shame in making mistakes, even big ones, even if those mistakes seem like the end of the world. They aren’t. There’s nothing people can’t come back from. When Jesus’ disciples asked him in Matthew 18:21-22 how many times they should forgive those who have done wrong, Jesus’ response is this: “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” In Jesus, there are infinite chances to come back and change.
The entire book of Habakkuk is about a man crying out to God for his seeming indifference towards evil. But God responds by telling Habakkuk that there is no evil He can’t see, no evil He doesn’t care about, and most importantly, no evil that is greater than He is good. As you talk to your teens about this potential danger in particular, remind them that God is sovereign, and they can always lean on Him; no matter what’s happening to them, what they’ve done, or what’s been done to them. Remind them that there is no reality in which they aren’t loved, despite anything they’ve done or that’s happened to them.
Here are some questions you can ask your teen to help get a conversation started:
- How much do you know about sextortion? How can you protect yourself against it, and how would you react if it happened to you?
- Do you believe you are valuable to God? What do you think makes you valuable?
- Do you feel you have ways to find connections in real life?