Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Crossing The Line With Ellen Degeneres. . . .

I've been thinking about and processing this since October. That's when I first saw the YouTube clips from earlier in the month. Initially, we gathered around our family computer and laughed at the viral clip of little eight-year-old Sophia Grace Brownlee and her five-year-old cousin Rosie. After all, they're cute. . . really cute. But the more I watched the more I squirmed. I kept watching. . . over and over again. . . and the squirming got even worse.

The effervescent little Sophia Grace wound up on The Ellen Degeneres Show after Ellen caught a YouTube clip of Sophia Grace singing away to Nicki Minaj's hit song "Super Bass." Ellen had the two girls perform live on her stage. Hmmmm. . . isn't that song a little naughty??? In true Ellen fashion, Nicki Minaj showed up, sending the little girls into a hysterical fit of joy. Their parents - in the audience - cried tears of joy as well. Then, the trio sang "Super Bass" together. You can watch it all below.





To be honest, you feel like a killjoy when you start to question stuff like this. But we still need to stand back and ask the hard questions. Did Ellen cross a line? Did the parents cross a line? Do we cross a line when we ignore what's really going on to enjoy the cuteness of a couple of little kids, justifying it all by saying, "Come on, they're only little kids"? Do we allow our emotions to trump responsible thinking and critique? I'm afraid we're losing our ability to think critically and Christianly about all of life, a reality which requires us to recapture and relearn skills that evidence discipleship of the mind.

I took some time to think more intentionally about this whole thing. I wrote up a 2-page 3(D) review of these videos of Sophia Grace with Nicki Minaj for our latest edition of ENGAGE. You can download the pdf of my review here. Use it to provoke your own thought. If you're a parent, talk about it with your kids. If you're a youth worker, spend an entire evening looking at, talking about, and thinking through the video clips.

After you read it, I want to know. . . Am I over-reacting? Should we be concerned? Is this evidence of deeper issues in our culture? If so, what are those issues? What do you think?

5 comments:

J.Stone said...

are you over-reacting? no. Should we be concerned? yes. Is this evidence of deeper issues in our culture? yes.

In these videos the message is, be cute, get "whatever you want!" the major problem here is that the children are being put into this roll of being cute by an adult audience that desires to have something cute. Every time they giggle and jump the audience goes wild, prompting more giggling and jumping. The cultural issue here is that we are valuing these children for what the adult wants and not what the children are. We are missing out on something worth celebrating, the fact that these children can actually sing. This is obscured by their (parents) song choice, outfits, and adults falling all over themselves with awww, etc.
What I would love to see is these girls singing a song that reflects their vocal talents, devoid of suggestive lyrics. followed by a successful artist encouraging the girls to work for their dreams and not to give up etc. Ellen misses the chance to elevate our culture and instead panders to it.
I dont blame Ellen, she is not the arbiter of our culture. I do blame the parents for not valuing their children's talents, and instead parading them around for the enjoyment of adults.
what's the "deeper issue in our culture"? Adults pushing their desires on children.

Mike McVey said...

I know you were not asking whether we thought it was cute, but I found the whole thing sick.

You are not over-reacting. At the very least, we should be concerned because Nicki Minaj looked a bit embarrassed whenever Sophia Grace was singing some of the words. Then when asked for her album, Nicki makes sure to point out that she will give the clean version. I find it sad that of all the people involved, the artist is the only one concerned with the accessibility of the artwork.

My concern is also for Sophia and Rosie. Are their parents trying to support her "gift" or are they looking to get their quick 15 minutes and payday?

I grew up and went to school with a couple of brothers who were as talented as Sophia. The younger was was my age and it took him many years to balance his ego after appearing on national television. I really wonder if the parents are looking at the negatives involved or do they only see the positives?

Mike Liebler said...

Walt
Excellent insights we posted a link to your ”Ellen” Blog on The Youth Culture Report, Thanks Mike Liebler

April said...

You asked if you were overreacting. Though I think it's precious how excited these girls were, especially Sophia, to see their favorite singer and how cute they were to be singing and so confidant on Ellen, I have to say that we should be concerned. I never find it appropriate for little children to be singing or dancing or whatever, to such "grown up", adult songs, that I wouldn't even listen to and I'm over 30. My son has come home from his father's in the past singing a song that I was floored by. Thankfully, once I explained what the song meant, he no longer wanted to sing it, but he shouldn't have heard it in the first place. We, as a culture, have become so desensitized to the world that we find things like this OK. It's sad and a little scary...

Jeff said...

Yes.

Yes there's probably some over reaction, but yes we need to be concerned. This is the beginning of hopefully people seeing how some very inappropriate behavior is working its way into our children's lives.

The stuff my grandparents worried about in the 50s and 60s is extremely tame compared to this stuff.

Just listen to a top 40 station one day. Listen and pay attention to the words. Then watch "family" sitcoms and the stuff our teens are watching.

It's scary.

And for the record... I'm about as liberal and lenient as they come. :-)