Friday, June 13, 2008

Girls kissing girls. . . .


A few weeks ago, CPYU’s Chris Wagner gave me a heads-up about a new artist he thought was positioned to land very, very soon on the landscape of today’s youth culture in a big, loud way. He emailed me a link to the video “I Kissed a Girl” on Katy Perry’s website. The site touts Perry’s upcoming album, One of the Boys, which will be released this coming Tuesday.

Anticipating a big splash, I decided to view Perry’s song and video through the “3D” evaluation tool we use and promote here at CPYU. Two weeks ago I wrapped up my evaluation of “I Kissed a Girl” and sent it off to the editor for inclusion in the Summer 2008 edition of ENGAGE (which will be out next week by the way). During the research process, I learned that Perry – real name Katy Hudson and the daughter of two conservative church pastors – is really not a newcomer to the music scene. In fact, she released a self-titled debut album, Katy Hudson, in 2001. At that time, she was pursuing a career in contemporary Christian music (you can read Christianity Today magazine’s review of that album here).

Katy Perry is one to watch. I think she offers us an interesting and sad case study in youth ministry, faith development, and contemporary adolescent values, attitudes, and behaviors. Since Chris sparked my interest in Perrry, I’ve had numerous culture-watching friends email (Josh Keller, among others) or call (thanks David Fraze!) to ask if she’s on our radar and if we're going to post something. The answer is “yes.” Because there’s such interest and because her album hits stores next Tuesday, I’ve decided to pop the lid off of the “3D” review that will appear in the Summer 2008 edition of ENGAGE, and give it to you here in its entirety (below). This is an artist and song you must talk about with your kids.

Song/Video: "I Kissed a Girl"
Background/summary: This is the first single release off 23-year-old rising star Katy Perry’s debut album, One of the Boys. Born Katheryn Hudson, she grew up in a Christian home where both of her parents were conservative pastors. She released a Christian album under her real name in 2001. Claiming she was not a good Christian girl during her adolescence, she is pursuing her music career with a new name, new sound, and a new message/worldview. The single was pre-released on April 29, 2008, and quickly rose on the charts. The full album debuted on June 17, 2008. Perry has been dubbed “the next big thing” by Blender magazine, and the “one to watch” by Teen People.




Discover: What is the message/worldview?
• The video for this catchy and musically formulaic pop song opens with a quick image of Perry lying seductively in bed. Images continue to flash across the screen quickly for the video’s duration, showing Perry and numerous other scantily lingerie-clad girls caressing themselves and flirting seductively with the camera while in close proximity to each other.
• While the song’s visual content serves almost as a soft-porn teaser that is sure to be a draw for sexually-curious young male viewers, the song’s title and lyrical content tell Perry’s story of kissing another girl. This is really a video for young girls.
• In the song, Perry says she didn’t plan or intend the kiss. Rather, with a “drink in hand” she lost her discretion and satisfied her curiosity over another girl that had caught her attention.
• After the kiss, she says, “I kissed a girl and I liked it/The taste of her cherry chapstick/I kissed a girl just to try it.”
• As she processes her response to the kiss, she describes how it felt both “so wrong” and “so right.” Still, this “don’t mean I’m in love tonight.”
• The random and boundary-less nature of sexual experimentation in today’s culture is captured in the fact that Perry says she doesn’t even know the girl’s name, and that the girl is her “experimental game.”
• Perry goes on to justify the kiss by describing “us girls” in purely physical terms as “so magical, soft skin, red lips, so kissable, hard to resist so touchable, too good to deny it, ain’t no big deal, it’s innocent.”
• As the video draws to a close Perry says, “I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it.” The camera draws back and Perry is seen sleeping in bed next to her boyfriend. As she opens her eyes she realizes she’s been dreaming, but the smile on her face as she rests her head back on her pillow indicates that she enjoyed the dream.


Discern: How does it stand in light of the biblical message/worldview?
• The video clearly depicts a current cultural reality related to our fallenness as human beings, particularly how the fall effects our God-given sexuality. The Scriptures tell us that God made all things and pronounced them all “good.” In Genesis 3:6 all things are polluted by sin. "I Kissed a Girl" offers lyrical and visual evidence of this brokenness and how it is being uniquely embraced, expressed, and celebrated in today’s youth culture through distortions of sexuality.
• God’s clear plan for celebrating and experiencing our sexuality in all its glorious fullness invites us into exercising that gift in the context of a committed, life-long, heterosexual marriage. Fornication, adultery, and homosexuality are wrong.
• We all make decisions based on some authority. In this case, Perry opts out of making behavioral choices based on God’s plan as revealed in His Word, instead choosing a personal, feeling-based ethic. She does what she does based solely on feeling and attraction, thereby justifying any of the choices she makes. The Scriptures call us to make our choices and live our lives according to the revealed will of God and to His glory, not our own satisfaction.
• Women are depicted as objects. The Scriptures teach that God looks on the heart, not on outward appearance. In addition, we are to find our identity in who we are in Christ. Not on what we look like on the outside.

Decide: What do I do with it?
• Because it mirrors our culture, "I Kissed a Girl" offers those called to love and lead kids an eye-opening glimpse into several rapidly developing mainstream cultural realities. Homosexuality is no longer stigmatized, but is now accepted and celebrated as normal. Feelings are the guide for life. Girls are taught to assume the role of objectified boy toys. Our teenage boys increasingly enjoy watching girl-on-girl sexual activity. Our teenage girls – even those void of lesbian leanings or feelings – are engaging in what we might call “experimental homosexuality.” While it’s not pretty, these are realities that we must recognize and understand if we hope to address them.
• Because it serves to direct young viewers and listeners, "I Kissed a Girl" is more than a song kids will listen to. It actually serves as a map to life, guiding impressionable kids into accepting and practicing the values, attitudes, and behaviors that are depicted and promoted in the song. This includes a postmodern ethical relativism, and homosexuality.
• The song and video should be played for parents and youth workers. Use it to spark discussion on evolving values, attitudes, and behaviors, along with how to bring the light of God’s Word to bear on those realities in our day to day living with and ministering to kids.
• Since Katy Perry and her music are finding their places in the collective consciousness of today’s youth culture, she and her music are realities that we can’t ignore. Kids are seeing and hearing the music of Katy Perry. We suggest that after securing parental permission, youth workers view the video and deconstruct its message with their middle school and high school students. The exercise will not only offer opportunities to bring the light of God’s Word to bear on the song’s faulty messages, but will serve to teach kids how to think Biblically and Christianly about their media choices.
• Katy Perry’s own personal story and transformation can be used to spark a discussion on the true nature of being a Christ-follower, how to integrate faith into all of life, and how to guard ourselves from falling prey to dominant cultural values that oppose the way and will of God.

13 comments:

Dave Wells said...

An interesting reflection on Katy's song and life. I would be really interested to know more about her journey prior to setting herself up as a cultural pop singer (or others setting her up as such). The shift from Christian singer to pop singer, the worldview shift etc must be an interesting tale. You say at the beginning of your article that she is the daughter of two conservative pastors... the natural question to ask would be 'is she reacting to something?'
You suggest that she is releasing her new material with a "new message/worldview". A new worldview would suggest that she had bought into an 'old worldview' but had she ever developed an informed worldview within her conservative Christian upbringing? Indeed, will she do any better developing an informed worldview within the market driven, record company manged world of teen pop culture? Questions which I don't think we could ever answer but wouldn't you love to sit down and debrief with people who watched the shift in her?
Additionally, I can see the song having a widespread acceptance among teenagers, she is putting out there feelings and emotions of experimentation and edgy behavior that young girls will love (perhaps not dissimilar to Eminem's impact/edgy comentary on his sub-culture)... I wonder what the effect of the song and her carrer will be?
Certainly got me thinking about worldview formation in young people within my sphere... how real is it? How lasting is it? Is it personally owned by them or is it just a phase where expression is controlled by someone else (ie the youth worker... me)

John Mulholland said...

I'd recommend going to the MTV website and reading the comments left by people about the song...relativity at it's finest.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know who the parents are and what their views are on her making this transition.

Anonymous said...

This is not for just girls there are boys that feel this way too.

K & S Dalbey said...

Thank you Walt for your thoughts. I always enjoy reading your blog. Anyway, I had a conversation last week at Middle school camp with some girls about this particular song. These girls were grossed out at the idea of a girl kissing a girl and wanted to ask questions about why people find this behavior interesting and what I thought about the song. It was a good time to discuss some of the things you mentioned in your post. I may go back and talk more with these girls as it relates to 'Feelings are the guide for life' and how this attitude does not often lead toward Godliness. Steve and I will continue to treck on! Thanks for all you do Walt!

Brian said...

I've been in youth ministry for ten years and this is just another example of how satan has a great marketing plan. This song is nothing more than poison. what is so sad is that she doesn't even have that good of a voice, but some producer helped her with a good hook, and now we have to fight the battle to save our kids from accepting this trash as truth.

Anonymous said...

To answer your question Dave, there was never a switch or change. I have been in Nashville TN long enough to see many singers come and go. Even though Katy was a "Christian singer" even during her teenager years in Nashville she did not consider herself a Christian. Katy is an EXTREMELY candid person and she admitted to not caring wht type of music she did as long as she was famous. A sad, sad truth.

Anonymous said...

I'm the same person that left the comment above.

http://blog.beliefnet.com/gospelsoundcheck/2008/06/katy-perry-christian-recording.html

Joanne Brokaw said...

I'm Joanne Brokaw, the host of the Gospel Soundcheck blog, and I wrote the post w/the link above. Just so there's no confusion, I'm NOT the person who posted those comments above, who went by anonymous. But thanks for the link to the post!

Anonymous said...

I'm a very close friend of her brother (who attends Rhema Bible "School" in Oklahoma). I have yet to meet her, but I have spoken with her before and she is a good and decent person that *does* believe in God, just not the hell-fire and brimstone primitive xtianity that you subscribe to and expect all of your minions to follow with our usuing their own "god given" brains.
And, "Phrophets" Keith and Mary Hudson have large chuch in Cali. Their older daughter is also an upstanding person that doesn't, from what her brother has told , subscribe to all the Heebusy,Jeebesy crap.

Anonymous said...

Why don't we back off Katy Perry and put our efforts in to helping the least of us. you know the downtrodden, the infirm, those in prison, those that don't have the love of others and would easily take even our shallow and conditional love. Plus those are easy to brainwash to our cause. Non questioning sheeple must be a the core of God's Holy Army. Seek and yea shall find their sins, then expoit those sins to our adavantage by driving how unworthy and evil they are with out the blood of Christ. Find any weakness in anyone you can, these must be brought to light and before the ridicule of our God and they will be cleansed and then they will have no choice but you follow what we say for them to do. What music to listen to (so no katy perry), what clothes to wear (preferable modest cotton dress). No sex until mariage (no gay sex until they are already married to a womanm they they must hide it as best they can. Ted Haggard is still a holy man, he had a weak momemnt when he acted on his natural urges).
The world hangs in the balance. Yes, Katy Perry my very well be the precursor to the coming of the antiChrist, but we can't afford to let our numbers dwindle in the temptous world. Go to the prisons and let them know that when they accept Jesus the person is absolved of all resposibily for his actions on this sinful world and he can be held in the light of Jesus. and we must win those souls before the Muslims get them and brainwash them to their side. We have to be the one doing the brainwashing.
Remember human knowledge is the ememy of God's wisdom.
God bless those that deserve it.
And I say that we pray for rain not only during the DNC convention, but during Katy Perry's concerts, then maybe she's get that God doesn't want her kissing girls and affronting HE WHO IS.

Anonymous said...

Her parents aren't thrilled, but they are supportive. They recently spent some time with her on the Warped Tour.

Anonymous said...

it rocks shes hot and she kisses girls

YOU PEOPLE READ INTO THINGS WELL TOO MUCH, GET A LIFE!