Saturday, June 2, 2007

HEY hey YOU you?

When I was 15, pretty much every other 15 yr old girl on the planet knew these words, and all the words that came after:

Well you're the real tough cookie with the long history
Of breaking little hearts, like the one in me
Thats o.k., lets see how you do it
Put up your dukes, lets get down to it!

It was your basic "I might be a girl, but I know what I want and I know how to get it" pop music, "tough girl" hit song. In a weird way, it became the theme song for many teenaged girls for that era. While the girls that listened to it and liked it, may not have really considered themselves a tough girl, it was an upbeat, catchy tune that just became one of those songs you heard maybe a little too much on the local rock/pop radio station, and as result - before long you knew all the words and found yourself singing along.

Fast forward nearly 30 years later and that whole "tough girl/catchy rock/pop tune" scenario is still in full swing, but now these are the words:

Hey! Hey! You! You!
I don't like your girlfriend!
No way No way!
I think you need a new one
Hey! Hey! You! You!
I could be your girlfriend

If you don't recognize that, you probably don't have a teenage girl in your house that has ever listened to a secular, pop radio station. It's nearly impossible to scan through the FM dial without hearing Avril Lavigne sing the Girlfriend song. While the language (I've heard the song multiple times and only after looking up the lyrics found out there is profane language in it - I never caught it just by listening) in the second song does contain some words that most mothers would never want their daughters to use, for all intents and purposes this song is no different than the song that captured the attention of "the girl without a voice" when I was 15. It's full of angst, it speaks up for the "tough chick", and even though it's supposed to be somewhat of a mockery and not serious at all, it's an upbeat tune that almost reminds you of a cheerleader type of song, in some aspects.

I'm only going to assume that most teenage girls that listen to and like this song (and it's easy to see why the video is so well liked, it's supposed to be humorous and in certain places is actually rather funny) don't take it any more seriously than my friends or I took Pat Benatar's Hit Me With Your Best Shot. I'm also going to assume that most parents of teenaged girls that let them listen to this song would say something along of the lines of "harmless fun, don't take it so seriously". I'm only assuming that because I know myself well enough to know that if I was not a Christian parent, that's exactly what I'd say. In fact, that is exactly what I said when I was an unsaved, gullible teenager listening to music just like this - whenever anyone criticized it.

Now let's set all that aside and look a bit closer at this from a Bible believing, God glorifying state of mind and heart.

Catchy tune & attempts at humor aside, the message in this song is directly opposed to the way us Christian moms want our teenaged daughters to think about themselves, young men, and other young women.

- We don't want them to do whatever it takes to get a boyfriend, we want them to be Godly young ladies.
- We don't want them to trash talk other young women, we want them to instead be selfless and gracious.
- We don't want them to use obscene language to describe themselves, we want them to be humble and Godly people.

Some might think I'm making more of this than I should, but coming from someone who was unsaved and a Benatar fan in the late 70's/early 80's, I can tell you that "tough chick/girl angst" pop songs do in fact make a difference in the way we think, and the way we think about ourselves, even while we're so busy defending our choice of music by telling people to lighten up, and that it's JUST a song.

I think we'd all agree that music is an extremely powerful influence, and the more you hear it, the more the message becomes just a part of the way you think. It's just the way it is. The catchier the tune, the more airplay it gets. The more airplay it gets means more opportunities for that message to be played again and again. It does have an affect on our thinking, no matter how many people want to say "oh come ON, it's JUST a song!" If you really want to take the position that repetitious songs have no impact on our thinking, you'd better discuss that with every first grade teacher across the country, and the producers of School House Rock. They know something that you don't, and that something is - repetitious songs are a powerful way to get our brains to remember the message they bring. It's pretty simple in that it just works.

I'd be willing to bet that every person reading this, has that 1 song in mind (or more than one) that if they hear it, they are instantly transported back to a time or a place where a very strong memory either haunts them or causes them great fondness for the event. We tend to do this with music, somehow we associate songs with times and events, in very much the same way certain scents or odors will also send our minds drifting back to another time and another place. It's rather remarkable actually, how our senses are sort of blended like that, and open up memories just like inserting a key into a lock. For some, just hearing the name of the band is enough to get that ball rolling - since we associate that band with that one particular song, and on it goes.

This isn't a post about bashing modern, secular, pop music, although that would be so easy to do a 5 yr old could pull it off. This is a post reminding us as parents to be cautious with what we allow our kids to listen to. There are a million messages out there, and the vast majority of them bring no glory to God whatsoever but exalt self, pure and simple. Even if they do it in a "joking" way.

As an adult, and as someone with at least a little more discernment than a teenager, I do listen to certain types of secular music myself, so this also not about me being a hypocrite. Even with that said however, there are certain songs I can't listen to because all they do is conjure up memories of "back in the day" that I don't want to remember. There are certain songs that I once enjoyed a great deal, that I can no longer listen to because of the language they use, or the message they send. As a Christian, I just can't sing along to what the song is saying (any more than I can sing along with so-called Christian music that exalts self over exalting God).

So there you have it. Make of this what you will. Have you read the lyric insert on your kid's cd collections lately? If not, I'd suggest you do that.

Just a thought.