“Art” Imitating Life? or Molding it?

Once again my heart breaks for this generation of teens. I know so many young people who have been sexually abused and/or molested as children. Now, as teens, they are trying to figure out who they are; and all the pop-culture media can tell them is they are sex objects. Maybe I’m too easily offended, like the “old” folks were when I was a teenager and sang along with Madonna’s “Like a Virgin.” Well, actually, I didn’t really sing along with her too often because my dad would have killed me… a slow, torturous death by lecture. And while I would roll my eyes and think how “out of it” he was, at the same time I knew he was right and was secretly glad he wouldn’t allow it. I learned early of the power of music to plant ideas, facts, grammar, scripture, etc. deep into my memory. Twenty-five years later I can still sing nearly every word from Prince’s 1999 album. I didn’t even really like Prince, nor did I own the album, and I haven’t listened to it since 11th grade. But we did play it a lot on youth trips. Thankfully, I have many more God-honoring songs in my head than other songs.

Prince has nothing on today’s hip-hop and R & B “artists”. Most of his songs weren’t played on the open airwaves. Have you had a chance lately to listen to a radio station playing hip-hop and R&B, even for 10 minutes? I think there are at least 5 such stations in Macon. And the youth I work with listen to all of them…constantly. Here’s an example of the messages repeatedly playing in their ears, their heads, and their hearts. This is the chorus of “Love Faces” by Trey Songz:

Don’t it feel good when I touch on it? Wouldn’t it be nice if all night I was in you? Come kiss me, come with me down the hall to my bedroom. Tonight we’ll be Making love faces, making love faces. Shadows on the wall while the candles burnin’, Messin up the bed while you sweatin’ out your perm and making love faces, making love faces, My hands rubbing on your skin. Let’s go hard don’t hold it in.”

I’ll be honest. The melody is beautiful and it sticks in your head. The lyrics, though,  get even more…um…intimate. They embarrass me. Not something I want to sit and listen to with someone other than my husband, especially 13-18 year old girls who are belting out the words like they don’t mean anything. I was TRAPPED IN THE BACKSEAT OF THE VAN listening to this on the way home from the lake with these girls. Other staff started to turn the song off, but the girls protested loudly and continued singing the song anyway. I admit I was deeply offended. Not because I have virginal ears or anything, but because society has sacrificed our children on the altar of entertainment and it angers me. The performers are prostituting themselves, selling a cheap message about sex and intimacy for fame and fortune. I have heard that several of the performers won’t let their own kids listen to their music, but have no problem putting it out there for other people’s children to listen to it. “It’s up to parents to censor their kids’ music choices.” Really? This stuff plays REPEATEDLY over the airwaves and they aren’t supposed to hear it? What about the kids who don’t have parents raising them? They don’t have their parents there, but they do have radios. And they already have skewed ideas about sex.

The youth thought it was a big joke when the song came on. They know I don’t like the lyrics. They don’t understand why because they are part of a culture that promotes this trash as ok. I feel like I’m helplessly watching people swim in a nasty mud hole when there’s this really cool, beautiful, clean water park in which they could play. All they have to do to enter it is leave the mud pit behind, let the owner of the park shower them clean, and then they can run, jump, slide, dive, flip, float, wade, splash, whatever they want, in the crystal clean, endless pool of goodness. But they just keep playing in the mud, even though it leaves them dirty, diseased, gross-feeling, and empty.

All I could do was pray….hard. I wanted to yell, “STOP THE VAN! I’LL WALK HOME!” But I couldn’t. I had a job to do. Plus it wouldn’t have accomplished anything. So I prayed silently as the lump caught in my throat and my eyes watered behind my sunglasses. I asked God to intervene, to smite the radio station, to silence the radio, to block the children’s ears, to block my ears, something!!!  Finally my co-worker changed the station. A little reprieve. But there was just another radio station with another song, educating these children about the mud. 

What about you? Does this stuff break your heart? Does it anger you? What can we do?

 1” Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. 2 It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 So watch yourselves.” Luke 17:1-3, NIV

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2 Responses to “Art” Imitating Life? or Molding it?

  1. cycleguy says:

    I know I’m late Tammie but to answer your question: yes it breaks my heart. For years I did seminars on music and try as hard as I could, I could not get them to see the danger of the lyrics. They saw nothing wrong with them. For the record: I can’t stand (translated “hate”) rap and R&B. Won’t even call it music.

    • tlhumphries says:

      Thanks, Bill. It’s nice to get comments, even if they’re late 😉
      I didn’t reread the entire post when I linked it this morning until you commented. The song lyrics embarrassed me all over again. And they are mild compared to others I hear on a much too regular basis. As a former music major, I recognize the brilliance of some of the musicality of some rap music. But the lyrics often leave me sick to my stomach. I am thankful for artists like Lacrae and Toby Mac.

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