That’s Billion with a B
I read today that Eminem is now the third artist (along with Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber) to have their videos viewed one billion times on YouTube. Like it or not, you can’t deny that he’s a powerful force in music and pop culture. As I read the article and watched the videos, I thought about the mixed messages that Eminem (and other artists) communicate in their music and their lives.For example: we’ve talked before about how Eminem has a “no cussing” rule for his household. I appreciate his desire to be a good role model for his daughters. But at some point in their lives, his girls are going to hear their dad’s music, and he’ll have to explain why the language, attitude and lifestyle that permeates his music and his persona is acceptable in public, but not in private.On a personal note, I’m also still irritated that on Super Bowl Sunday, he apparently had no problem cussing on a commercial in my living room – at 6 in the evening with my 2 year old daughter in the room. I assume his daughters weren’t watching the game.
Telling the truth vs. looking for Truth
As I watched some of his videos, I had to give props to Eminem for his willingness to address social issues; issues that some of our students are unfortunately all too familiar with – an abusive relationship (in “Love The Way You Lie”), thoughts of suicide (“Not Afraid”) and bullying (“No Love”).The topics are painful, but for some people, they are their reality. Songs like these can shine light on issues that often hide in the dark, and as youth leaders, they can even open doors for painful but necessary conversations (or even interventions). I also realized that the lyrics of the chorus to “Not Afraid” could very easily have been written by a Christian and sung by a Christian artist. There is truth there – God’s truth that we can point to, extract and build on.So after I’d read the article and watched the videos a couple of times each, I found myself with more questions than answers:
- How do we get kids to think about the messages in music and media and run them through the filter of God’s word?
- How do we teach and cultivate ongoing discernment against the wave of pop culture?
- Are we open and willing to share our own discernment challenges?
- Do we rely on someone else to draw the lines for us? Should we?
- Are we prepared – mentally, spiritually and especially culturally – to engage in discussions with our students?
So what are your thoughts? We’d love to hear from you, knowing that this is an ongoing discussion … just like the wave of media we all face.