||Jonathan's Resource Ezine
Weekly Resources, Ideas and Articles from The Source for Youth Ministry
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
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Youth Culture Window: Our Response to the MTV Movie Awards and Three Essential Practices for Your Youth Ministry
By Jonathan McKee
MTV is a window into our youth culture.
That's what I always tell you. But lately it's getting harder and harder for me to even peek in
that window. Every glance is like a flashback to the pubescent conversation that surrounded me
in the jr. high boys locker room during second period P.E. so many years ago.
If you've been an EZINE subscriber for even six months, you've probably heard me refer to the
twice a year that I watch MTV. I never gain popularity points in Christian circles by
verbalizing that. Some from the church think I shouldn't be paying any attention to filthy
influences like MTV. At the other end of the spectrum are those in the church who think the
polar opposite, "Oh, MTV isn't that bad."
Regardless, twice a year is enough for me. I get a sufficient taste of MTV each year by simply
watching their Movie Awards (late Spring) and then their Video Music Awards (in the Fall).
I'll be honest. I'm a big advocate of keeping aware of our youth culture and even using it to
provoke discussions with kids. (We're even devoting time in each of our free podcasts to a
section we call youth culture window.) But I can only stomach so much of MTV. I'm not a big fan
of adults in the corporate world pimping smut to our children. And that, in a nutshell, is MTV.
But please, don't take my word for it. Decide for yourselves. MTV.com has a link on their front
page to see the highlights of Sunday night's movie awards on demand. You can watch every minute
of Sarah Silverman's raunchy opening monologue as well as some of the other online highlights you
don't want your students seeing (Oops, I guess it's too bad that 74% of 8-18 year olds have ready
access to a home internet connection1 and 59% are MTV viewers, watching MTV at least once a week).
Or -most of you are reading this article on Wednesday-check your TV schedule; a repeat of this
year's 2007 MTV Movie Awards is being shown again on MTV tonight. I encourage you to watch just
the first 10 minutes of the show.
If they decide to actually air the first 10 minutes again, then this is what you'll hear:
If you stick around longer than ten minutes, then you'll also see:
- Jackass' own Johnny Knoxville riding a cartoon purple horse and joking to Sarah
Silverman that she can ride his "purple pony."
- The host Sarah Silverman commenting about how many celebrity vaginas she sees in the
room that night.
- A joke about Paris Hilton being comforted by the bars in her jail cell because they have
been painted like penises.
- A commercial for "the dirtiest mouth moment," awarding the movie with the worst language
- Sarah singing a song filled with words that the sensors have to beep...and a few that you
wish they would have.
- Jack Nicholson following suit with his language, and stumbling through a speech that
will leave you wondering what was in that bottle he was chugging during the show.
This year I will rest from any further "dissection" of the MTV Movie Awards. I think that the
first 10 minutes of the awards speak louder than anything that I could possibly write.
- Dane Cook talking about "nipple slips," punching himself in the balls, and being "hard"
watching Rihanna perform.
- A clip from the movie Borat showing two naked men rolling around a bed fighting.
- Will Farrell and Sasha Baron Cohen (Borat) winning best kiss and kissing each other on
stage-not just any kiss-but passionately for almost 30 seconds while rolling on the floor.
- Robin Williams, Mandy Moore, and John Krasinski joking about "balls" in the face.
- Seth Rogen telling Eva Mendez that he likes to impregnate women with his "Jew sperm."
Eva Mendez replies, "I love Jew sperm!"
- The worse lapse of judgment of the evening, awarding last year's Pirates II the award
for Best Movie.
Our kids are watching this.
The people on this show are their role models; either Amy Winehouse singing about rehab, or
Lindsey Lohan missing the awards because of it.
And you wonder why so many books are being written about hurting kids.
So how do we respond? How do we not respond? Why even pay attention to the MTV Movie
Good questions. Allow me to address them while at the same time imploring you to carry out
these three essential practices in your youth ministry.
1. UNDERSTAND OUR GENERATION:
I watch MTV twice a year for better understanding of who our kids are and what they are
becoming. Staying current helps me know what messages kids are hearing and even opens doors
to discussions about these messages.
When I hear kids talking about Rihanna, I know who they're talking about. When they're joking
about the movie Borat, I have an understanding of what they saw.
2. CONSIDER OUR AUDIENCE:
If we start ranting to our kids about the "smut on MTV" they'll dismiss us in a second.
I'm quick to tell youth workers and parents about what we've discussed above, but with kids I
try to be a little shrewder. I try to do a lot more listening than talking. If they mention
Kelly Clarkson's music video for her song Never Again, or Fergie's video for
Glamorous, I have thought through questions that I can ask them about the videos.
The questions I ask church kids are different than the ones I ask unchurched kids. With
unchurched kids I might use discussions like the Linkin Park
discussion guide we recently put on our site that inquires about forgiveness and opens the
door to talk about the "new start" that Jesus offers us. With church kids I might be a little
more assertive and ask them how they decide what to allow in their iPods or on their TV screen.
Even then I don't close doors by barking out condemnation. I listen, taking careful note of
their opinions. This understanding will help me as I choose my curriculum, small group material
and discipleship material that I use with these students.
3. PRAY FOR OUR STUDENTS:
After watching the MTV Movie Awards this week, my first reaction was despair. I'm far from a
spiritual giant, but the dark cloud that hung in the room after the show Sunday night forced
me to my knees. I needed God so I turned to Him.
We need to remember to turn this over to Him. Sometimes I'm too quick to click on the Billboard
charts or the youth culture website... but slow to talk to the creator of the universe.
Carve out a time. Set your alarm 10 minutes early, go into your closet and pray.
Jesus was one of the best living examples of one who mingled with sinners. And Jesus was also a
incredible example of someone who constantly sought out time alone to just pray and refuel. If
he needed it, I'm sure we do too.
Pray for our students. Pray for wisdom as we help kids see the truth in a sea of lies.
These three practices won't solve all your problems or turn you into the next Walt Mueller,
but they may just provide you with a little help and encouragement as you strive to reach out
to kids in a relevant way with the God's truth.
So I guess this Fall it's back to the proverbial jr. high locker room one final time in 2007 as
I peek through MTV's window once again for their VMA's.
Jonathan McKee is president of The Source for Youth Ministry and
author of numerous youth ministry books like
"Do They Run When They See You Coming?"
and the forthcoming "Getting Students to Show Up."
Jonathan studies youth culture and trends,
across the country and providing free online resources, training, & ideas for youth workers at
Outreach Magazine's Tamara Rice on Jonathan's New Book: Pre-order Jonathan's New Book "Getting Students to Show Up" from us Right Now and Receive the FINAL COUNTDOWN Event Resource DVD FREE!
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There's no fluff here and no philosophical rambling, just focused and specific advice
every youth worker needs. From bands who don't know when to stop singing to speakers who
ruin the night-McKee has experienced it all, and doesn't shy away from the hard truths of
youth outreach event planning. In his own words, just because you built it, doesn't mean
they'll come-and as any seasoned youth worker knows, just because they came, doesn't mean
McKee shows readers how to program their outreach events, whether large scale or small,
from the time the idea is first sparked at a leadership meeting until the lights go out and
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