Youth Culture Window
You may not know their name, but trust me, you’ve heard their music. Now the increasingly popular group LMFAO's new song and video features them doing "the wiggle." Any guess as to what these guys and their porn star guests are actually wiggling?
You're gonna be shocked. We've come a long way from Elvis' pelvis. (Actually... just around the corner)
As much as I (Jonathan) try to keep current with the music charts, it was my 14-year-old daughter Ashley who introduced me to this new song and video, Sexy and I Know It. Last weekend Ashley took her first trip away from home with someone other than her church group. This was quite a leap for us, but Ashley has earned our trust to take such a trip with her cross-country team. On Sunday night when Ashley arrived home, she and I sat down to talk about the trip and she shared a little about the music and media that the kids were absorbing throughout the weekend. As good as these kids are (most of these kids are honors students from really good homes), much of their media diet is less than healthy.
The first song Ashley told me about was this new song by LMFAO. “Dad, have you heard Sexy and I Know It?”
I told her that I hadn’t (She was pretty excited that she heard a song before me and could educate me about it).
She gave me the skinny. “It’s two guys talking about how sexy they are. I probably heard it about 20 times this weekend. The lyrics aren’t good at all, and the video is worse.” From the mouths of babes.
She knew what I was asking. I was curious how she saw the video.
“I walked into one of the hotel rooms,” Ashley shared, “and about 6 girls were gathered around a laptop watching the video. The guy is singing about how sexy his is, the camera focuses on his crotch, and..." her eyes got really big "...then he starts waggling his junk around! Seriously! I just left the room."
How is it that a bunch of freshman girls have easy access to guys literaly wiggling their junk around in speedos. Are kids sneaking past "Explicit" warnings on iTunes and YouTube?
Here's where many of you might be surprised.
This video is deemed "clean." No curse words, no nudity... it's "clean." Welcome to iTunes.
Check it out yourself. Go to iTunes right now. As we write this article, LMFAO owns the top two spots on their video charts. Click on their video Sexy and I Know It. You'll notice no explicit content warnings. As a matter of fact, you don't even have to pay the $1.99. Kids can just click the preview button and see these guys and porn star Ron Jeremy wiggling their junk (singing "I've got passion in my pants and I ain't afraid to show it...")
The simple fact is this: our kids are going to be exposed to this kind of media unless we lock them in our basements. The question is, are parents equipping their kids how to respond when they encounter this kind of content?
One way adults can help young people navigate this media saturated world is by engaging in regular conversations about the media they are exposed to. This requires a little bit of research… and you’re getting an A+ if you’re reading this article, because we just did the research for you.
Who is LMFAO? The duo is comprised of two guys who go by the names Redfoo (Stefan Kendel Gordy) and SkyBlu (Skyler Husten Gordy). They are actually uncle and nephew to one another, and both are related to Motown label founder Berry Gordy.
LMFAO (which stands for “Laughing My Fu**ing A** Off”) became a household name this summer with the release of their most popular single to date: Party Rock Anthem. The electric/pop/dance tune rocketed to #1 on the charts, and as of this writing, is still holding strong at #4, several months later. The video is still at #1 on iTunes today.
You may not recognize Party Rock Anthem by its title, but I know you’ll recognize it from those toe-tapping Kia Soul car commercials with the big dancing hamsters. It still gets plenty of play time in gyms, malls, retail stores, and even schools across the country. Bottom line: that song has understated lyrics (that aren’t all that clean) and a sick beat.
But now, the group has released another song…and is headed in a new direction.
The group’s follow up song, Sexy and I Know It, has landed on the Billboard’s Top 10. It’s been on the charts for about a month, but made a 15-position leap this week thanks in large part to digital downloads. (As of this writing, the song is ranked #2 on iTunes’ Top Charts.)
Any time a musical group has two songs in Billboard’s Top 10 at the same time kids are paying attention to them. But what are young people hearing when they crank up this hit in their iPods?
Here’s just one sample of the song’s lyrics:
Girl look at that body
I work out
Girl look at that body
I work out
When I walk in the spot, this is what I see
Everybody stops and they staring at me
I got passion in my pants and I ain't afraid to show it
I'm sexy and I know it
I'm sexy and I know it...
Check it out
Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle yeah
Do the wiggle man
Yeah I'm sexy and I know it
OK, it’s fairly obvious that Redfoo and SkyBlu aren’t shackled with any self-esteem issues. And in case you think I’ve pulled a “non-representative” sample of lyrics from the song, take a look at the rest of them for yourself (paying close attention to verse one).
Are the lyrics alone explicit? Maybe not. But... try watching the music video.
SHOW and Tell
Just in case their lyrics leave any room for interpretation concerning this song’s message, they produced a music video to remove all doubt.
Venice Beach provides the perfect setting for this bikini-clad, speedo-focused, penis-wagging video. (Yeah, we said “penis wagging.” What did you think he meant by “do the wiggle man”?) The video features most of its actors wearing nothing more than a speedo, wiggling and bouncing their genitalia in front of the camera.
Ashley wasn’t exaggerating at all.
Following the example of Katy Perry’s celebrity-filled music video Last Friday Night, LMFAO uses several celebrity cameos in their three-and-a-half minutes of groove. Alistair Overeem (a heavyweight fighter with UFC) makes an appearance as a hulking beach bod. Simon Rex (an adult film star who also played in Scary Movie 3 and 4) shows up in a few scenes as does Wilmer Valderrama (That ‘70s Show and the voice of Handy Manny).
But no penis-wagging, crotch-focused music video would be complete without a guest appearance by Ron Jeremy, the iconic face of today’s pornography. In the video, he’s surrounded by a few of his…ummm…colleagues, and like the other guys on camera, he also dances on the bar in his speedo.
With all the genital shaking involved, we can best describe the video as “the worst day imaginable for a urologist working on the wrong side of the tracks.”
In Charge…And I Know It
Youth workers and parents now have another decision to make thanks to this song, its message, and its blatant sexual content. LMFAO says they’re sexy and they know it, so let me remind you that you’re in charge…so know it, too. The responsibility lies with us. So what will we do about this song (and others like it)?
- Understand the power of music. Like it or not, LMFAO’s music is catchy. There’s a reason why their music has been downloaded by millions and viewed online by millions more. There’s a reason why Kia has dumped big money into their product line using this group’s music. Kids love music and listen to 2 hours and 19 minutes of it every day. That can translate into a LOT of “wiggle”! Music is the constant backdrop to teenagers’ lives. They’ll listen to music while talking in the car, surfing the internet, or hanging out with their friends. But, because some artists fill their music with these kinds of messages, it means we as youth leaders and parents have to monitor it. So, we also need to….
- Check what goes into the iPod. I (David) have a 5-year old son, Josiah. If he played with a kid from my neighborhood for 2 hours and 19 minutes of every single day of his life, you better bet I’d know who that kid was, what he was like, and how he lived. Many parents usually do some sort of screening on friends, but too many parents never take a look at the influences circulating through the “most played list” on their kids’ mp3 players. That has to change, drastically and quickly. Just research the songs by doing a simple online search for lyrics and music video. That way you can tell if it meets your standards.
LMFAO might be wagging their crotches, but it will probably do little good to wag our fingers. We can curse the darkness, or shed some light. By doing the latter, we help teenagers make godly decisions that will provide a great foundation for the rest of their lives.
, president of The Source for Youth
Ministry, is the author of over a dozen books including the new
Get Your Teenager Talking,
The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket,
The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenager
, and youth ministry
Ministry By Teenagers
Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation
, and the
speaks and trains
at conferences, churches and events across
North America, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents
on his websites, TheSource4YM.com
. You can follow
Jonathan on his blog
, getting a
regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan and his wife Lori, and
their three teenagers Alec, Alyssa and Ashley live in California.
David R. Smith
is a 15-year youth ministry veteran who helps youth
workers and parents through his writing, training, and speaking. David specializes in sharing the
gospel, and equipping others do the same. He co-authored his first book this year,
Ministry By Teenagers
. David provides free
resources to anyone who works with teenagers on his website, DavidRSmith.org
David resides with his wife and son in Tampa, Florida.
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