3 Cultural Trends From the 2015 VMAs

This past Sunday MTV held their 32nd VMAs (Video Music Awards). The VMAs is more than an awards show, it’s a cultural display of where we are as a society. If you want to see where are culture is, especially teens and young adults, than go no future than the VMAs. If you work with teens, young adults, or just want to know we are culture is and is going I’d encourage you to watch or follow the VMAs each year. It will teach you a lot. I didn’t watch the entire show this year but did go back and watch some of the highlights. On top of that I read a good amount of articles on the night. In the midst of Miley Cyrus antics, Taylor Swift winning a ton of awards, and Kayne West announcing that he will be running for president in 2020, there were three cultural trends that stood out to me.

Gender identity. Gender in our culture is now a decision left up to the individual. It no longer matters how you were born. If you want to be another gender you have the right to make that happen. Our culture has shifted to the acceptance and celebration of the transgender issue. This was clearly the case with this years VMAs. There were celebrations of transgenders as well as a stage full of drag queens joining Miley for her performance of “Dooo It.” Taylor Swift even threw a punch when she received the award for Best Video of the Year. She said, “I’m just happy that in 2015, we live in a world where boys can play princesses and girls can play soldiers.” Gender identity and manhood/womanhood is something our culture is changing and shifting on.

Faith disconnected from actions and lifestyle. Faith in our culture has become more of a slogan or addition life rather than a foundation of life. Faith no longer is connected to your actions or lifestyle. You can pick whatever faith you want but also live however you want. You can have both and they can be completely at odds. This was clearly seen during this years VMAs when Nicki Minaj received the award for Best Hip-Hop Video for her song “Anaconda” and said, “You know who I want to thank tonight? My pastor.” She then went you to say, “Thank you, Pastor Lydia. I love you so much.” Minaj is known for her sexual explicit content and this song, and it’s video, is no different. The song is all about sex and the video features barely clothed women twerking and dancing. After receiving the award and thanking her pastor, Minaj then goes on to blast Miley Cyrus when she turns the show back over to her. Minaj said, “And now, back to this b**** that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press. Miley what’s good?” Faith no longer dictates how one lives and behaves. In our culture we see many people play the “faith card” but rarely do we see them have a life of faith to back it up that is visible in their actions, attitudes, and character.

Drug use (especially marijuana). The use and normalization of marijuana doesn’t come to a surprise to me. It’s easily accessed and doesn’t have some of the same damaging effects other drugs have. However, there were some interesting references at the VMAs to marijuana this year. First, Kayne West admitted to smoking some before he came on stage to give his far too long 11 minute speech. He said, “The answer is YES. I rolled up a little something. I knocked the edge off.” Also, Miley Cyrus performed her song “Doo it,” which in it she boasts “Yeah, I smoke pot. Yeah, I love peace, but I don’t give a f***. I ain’t no hippie.” The point is marijuana use is on the rise, especially with teens, college students, young adults, and our cultural as a whole has become more accepting of it and will continue to be more and more.

These are just a few of the things that happened at the VMAs this year that show us where our culture is and is going. Much of these thoughts in this post come from Walt Mueller’s post on the VMAs. Read that post to get a better glimpse into what the VMAs showed about our culture.

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What Miley Cyrus is Promoting to Your Teens

Miley_WeCantStop

Music has always been a powerful force in shaping culture. Music is a powerful tool in teaching people morals, beliefs, and attitudes. Teenagers more than anyone are shaped by music in their culture. Teenagers are in a period of life where they are asking questions about life, forming beliefs and worldview, and choosing what behavioral patterns to follow. This is why music is so important to teenagers. It gives them a voice and helps them form opinions about the world around them.

This is why parents need to be careful about what kind of music they are allowing their teenagers to listen to. I’m not suggesting we boycott “secular music” and only listen to “Christian music.” That distinction has never been a good one anyways. We must look past the genre or style and see what exactly teenagers are learning from a particular artist or song.

Recently, Miley Cyrus has released a new song that parents need to be aware of. My fear is that when most parents hear that their teenager is listening to Miley Cyrus they may feel no need to ask anymore questions because what comes to their mind when they hear Miley Cyrus is the Disney Channel star Hannah Montana. Unfortunately, Miley Cyrus is no longer a cute, little Disney Channel star, but a young woman who is not ashamed to be outright sexual, confrontational, and offensive.

Cyrus new song “We Can’t Stop” (along with the music video) is teaching promoting things, attitudes, and behaviors to your teenager that are not consistent with what God has revealed in His Word. Click here to read the full lyrics to this song.

Sexuality and Promiscuity. This song is full of sexual references and behaviors. Lines such as “Bet somebody here might get some now” and “To my home girls here with the big butt shaking it like we at a strip club,” Cyrus is not ashamed to promote sex and sexual behaviors. This song, like many others, tears apart the Biblical purpose and beauty of sex. Instead of sex being something reserved for marriage between one man and woman as a way of pleasure and intimacy with each other, sex is now something you do for fun whenever you want and with whomever you want. It’s not about intimacy anymore, it’s about recreational pleasure.

Drugs. This is something many listeners may not catch at first, but Cyrus makes mentions of drugs and drug use a few times in this song. In the second verse she says, “And everyone in line in the bathroom, trying to get a line in the bathroom.” Get a “line” is a slang way to saying snorting powdered drug. There is another time drugs show up in this song, but in a very interesting way. In the song Cyrus says, “So la da di da di. We like to party. Dancing with Miley.” Sounds ok doesn’t it? Dancing with Miley. However, when the song first came out many people thought Cyrus was saying “Dancing with Molly” (aka MDMA, ecstasy). I normally wouldn’t have an issue with this because this isn’t what the song actually says. I’m not going to get up in arms about what I thought our “heard” Cyrus say. However, she responded by saying this when she was asked about that line in the song:

If you’re aged ten [the lyric is] Miley. If you know what I’m talking about then you know. I just wanted it to be played on the radio and they’ve already had to edit it so much…I don’t think people have a hard time understanding that I’ve grown up. You can Google me and you know what I’m up to — you know what the lyric is saying (click here to read more).

It’s all about having fun and doing what you want. The whole idea of this song is doing whatever you want because it’s your party, house, and mouth! Cyrus promotes fun and pleasure as the end goal and doing whatever you want to get there is ok. In Cyrus own words, just remember “only God can judge ya.” Which I find very interesting because I’m not sure why if only one person could judge you, why would you want that person to be God? I’d much rather someone else judge me, not the ruler and Creator of this world. However, Cyrus, like many others, use this phrase as a justification to do whatever they want.

Are these things and behaviors we really want our teenagers to be taking in? I tweeted the other day that this is one of the trashiest songs I have ever heard. I’d encourage parents to take a listen and view the video. What are your thoughts on this song?