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A Bitter Taste of Pop Culture
The 2010 Teen Choice Awards
An article from Jonathan McKee at

Teens and tweens jumped to their feet, their pubescent voices shrilling as 2010 Teen Choice Awards host Katy Perry took the stage and sang her new song, Teenage Dream.
    We drove to Cali
    And got drunk on the beach
    Got a motel and
    Built a floor out of sheets
    I finally found you
    My missing puzzle piece
    I'm complete

    Let's go all the way tonight
    No regrets, just love
    We can dance until we die
    You and I
    We'll be young forever…
Once again, the Teen Choice Awards provides us with a current, but bitter taste of pop culture. In other words, what kids are watching on TV (Gossip Girl, Vampire Diaries and Glee reign) and in the theatres (Twilight: New Moon, KickAss, The Runaways), who they scream for (Taylor Lautner and Justin Bieber), and who they listen to (Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and, once again…Justin Bieber).

It happens every year at these awards. Celebrities who haven’t earned the right to be role models are elevated to role model status. Take it from Ellen DeGeneres, who when collecting her “Choice Comedian” award said, “I hope to not only be funny but to actually be a role model.”

This year didn’t have any shocking headline moments like Miley’s little pole dance in 2009, just an accurate glimpse into the porthole of youth culture. After all, teens vote for these awards, so the nominees speak volumes as to who and what our culture values, as well as what parents actually allow into their homes.

Have parents ever watched Big Bang Theory, Glee, Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, or Vampire Diaries with their kids? Sadly, many parents just use the TV as a babysitter. And what about R rated movies like Kickass or The RunAways?

While the content on the screen might be a mystery to some, any parent watching the awards can merely listen and quickly become aware of what today’s music is communicating. If Katy Perry’s song wasn’t enough, then maybe Jason Derulo’s song, In My Head got through as he performed it live:
    Just leave with me now. Say the word and we’ll go.
    I’ll be your teacher. I’ll show you the ropes.
    You’ll see a side of love you’ve never known.
    I can see it going down, going down.

    In my head, I see you all over me.
    In my head, you fulfill my fantasy.
    You’ll be screaming out.
    In my head, it’s going down.
    In my head, it’s going down.
    In my head. Yeah. In my head. Oh yeah…
Lyrics like these are always tricky for parents. Cusswords? Nope. But what’s the message of the song? Parents need to learn to look at lyrics and help their kids use good discernment when choosing the music to simmer in for the summer.

One of the nominees for this year’s “Choice Summer Song” was a creative little piece titled Billionaire by Travis McCoy and featuring popular rapper Bruno Mars. The two of them performed the clean version of the song on the show. Here’s just a snippet:
    I wanna be a billionaire so fricking bad
    Buy all of the things I never had
    Uh, I wanna be on the cover of Forbes magazine
    Smiling next to Oprah and the Queen

    Oh every time I close my eyes
    I see my name in shining lights
    A different city every night oh
    I swear the world better prepare
    For when I’m a billionaire
I love to use popular songs like this for a discussion jump starter with kids. After all, most kids are familiar with the song—it’s hard to avoid. Why not dive into the meaning and point toward some biblical truth. (You’ll be seeing a piece of curriculum from us in the next week on our MUSIC DISCUSSIONS page).

The show turned a new low for the evening, gracing rapper Diddy with the stage. Diddy performed his song Hello Good Morning (I won’t even bother printing out the lyrics) …by far the most boring song and performance of the decade. Personally, I would be embarrassed to be shown up by the cast from Step Up 3D.

As Katy Perry and the male cast from Glee continued the show, they gave out awards like “Choice Hotties,” with nominees like Megan Fox, Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel, Kim Kardashian, and Katy Perry. Megan Fox took the prize once again.

That wasn’t the only time we saw Kim Kardashian on stage. Moments before, the Glee guys introduced Kim and her sisters, “And to prove that at Teen Choice we really believe in family values, we have four sisters from a family you really value.” The sisters were winners of the “Choice Reality Show,” Keeping up with the Kardashians.

The show went on to reward shows like Family Guy, beating out American Dad for “Choice Animated Show.”

As the show rounded the last lap, the host Katy Perry picked up the award for “Choice Summer Song,” California Gurls. When they showed the video, Fox was careful, digitally placing a cloud over Katy’s butt.

By this point I was wishing they had digitally placed a cloud over the entire show.

You can look here for a detailed list of all the 2010 Teen Choice Winners.

A Healthy Response
I always encourage parents to watch shows like this one and the MTV Video Music Awards each year. As hard as these shows might be to stomach at times, they usually provide an accurate taste of the media buffet our kids are feasting on at an average rate of 7 hours and 38 minutes per day.

Knowledge is just the first step.

I defer to the advice I gave to parents when kids across the nation were watching foul material on MTV:

  1. Stay aware of what they’re watching

  2. Don’t over-react

  3. Engage in a healthy dialogue about media

  4. Finally, don’t be afraid to use two buttons on your remote control: the pause button, and the “Off” button!

Jonathan McKee Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, and You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

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Comments on this post

   Jennifer Roloff         11/1/2010 2:02:03 PM

This article was rated but no comment was left

   Aaron         11/1/2010 12:22:20 PM

Yep - totally agree. I see it all the time, and regrettably, the parents are oblivious to what their kids are listening/watching and respond with "well, it's what all the kids their age listen to..." In my head I thin "I wouldn't want my kid to be like all the rest!" On a positive note I have found that young teenagers are willing to open up and talk about the songs they listen to, and often can see the poor messages contained in them, but it takes someone to show it to them in an open and honest discussion that is meaningful to them.


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