The Friday Four: The S-Word

Unlike most of my Friday Four posts, these four topics all have something to do with each other and all four of them combined to spawn this post:

1. The Fifty Shades of Grey movie. I have no desire whatsoever to watch this movie or read the book, but I do wonder just how much they will show on the screen and whether the movie will attract the same crowd that used to be so into Twilight a few years back. I believe the book did start as Twilight fan fiction.

2. Planned Parenthood is supposedly OK with giving teens advice about “bondage” sex. I think it’s sad that a lot of teenagers get sex advice and information from Planned Parenthood (or any other large, money-making corporation) rather than from a parent or another person who is truly looking out for that teenager’s health and safety.

3. Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” song (and video). After I heard about “Anaconda,” I had to try it, and I liked how it sampled that old song “Baby Got Back,” but the video is deplorable and demeaning, and a few seconds into it, I had to stop it. I’ve seen a lot of overtly sexual music videos, but this one has got to be the closest to straight-up porn that I’ve ever seen. It shouldn’t be surprising, but it’s still disappointing.

4. Jill Duggar and large families. If you don’t know, the Duggars are that family with 19 kids. They live in Arkansas and have their own TV show. Jill is the fourth child who recently got married, and she’s already pregnant, so of course, you get the usual “arguments” about how she has been brainwashed into the uber-Christian lifestyle of her parents and the asinine and oft-quoted gem “it’s a vagina, not a clown car.” In short, it’s a reality show, so you never know what’s truly real. Has she truly been “brainwashed”? Who really knows? The family gets bashed because their conservatism is seen as old-fashioned and out of touch, but at least these people don’t infect this already sick society with more overt sexual imagery and violence.

Basically, it’s upsetting that the envelope has been pushed so far when it comes to sex, and that there’s very little left that’s truly shocking. Is this “progress”? I don’t think so. The way I see it, we have a great power to create other human beings, and although it’s a cliché, with great power comes great responsibility. We’re not like animals because we actually have self-control, brains, and common sense that enable us to regulate this power and use it for good. But temperance is a lot more difficult to practice than doing what feels good in the moment, and sex sells, so… I don’t know. Nothing is sacred. People need to respect themselves.

Popular Music These Days

I’ll admit that I enjoy listening to Top 40 music, and that no matter how often I hear Pitbull’s “Give Me Everything,” it still has a good beat and I haven’t grown tired of it yet.

Even so, there’s something vaguely unsettling about current popular music. Perhaps it’s the terrible grammar the artists use in their lyrics, the subject matter, or even the fact that each song is played ad nauseam on a seemingly continuous loop.

Nicole Scherzinger’s hit “Right There” (featuring rapper 50 Cent) includes the grammatically incorrect lyrics “Me like the way that you touch my body” and “Never gonna let no girl steal him from me.” Of course, the lyrical content isn’t meant to be taken seriously (or even really listened to), and the song is more about the beat and the popularity of the two singers, but the first time I heard the song, it bothered me.

The subject matter of popular songs is also disturbing. The top five songs as of October 11, 2011 and their subject matter are as follows:

1. Maroon 5 – “Moves Like Jagger” (dancing, club lifestyle, sex)
2. Bad Meets Evil – “Lighters” (working one’s way to the top)
3. Britney Spears – “I Wanna Go” (dancing, club lifestyle, sex)
4. Katy Perry – “Last Friday Night” (partying, drinking, no regrets)
5. Nicki Minaj – “Super Bass” (crushes, sex)

The Bad Meets Evil song has a fairly important and positive message (work hard to make your way to the top), but Eminem’s rapped verses contain a great deal of profanity that can take away from that message and undermine the hopefulness of Bruno Mars’s chorus.

The only song on the list of current top 10 hits that’s remotely different in style and subject matter is Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks,” and even the band members themselves do not really know how the song rose to the heights of popularity that it did. But that is not to say that the content of even that song is redeeming; it’s about a kid with homicidal thoughts, although the lyrics were meant to raise awareness of gun violence.

It’s a little disconcerting to think that kids in middle school are listening to this music and quite possibly taking it seriously. I argue that this music is meant to be pure fun, have a good beat, and to be “ear candy” with no real substance, but young kids might try to emulate the lifestyles portrayed in the lyrics.

All in all, listening to Top 40 music is a bit like eating Pringles potato chips: airy, fun, and difficult to stop, but it won’t fill you up or satisfy you.

Note: This article was originally going to be published on the New Student Union blog, but it didn’t make the cut, so it’s getting posted here.