Each Friday in What Memes Mean, Kirk Bozeman questions the significance, humor, and subtexts of viral videos, memes, and other Internet fads.
Last post I almost for a second became “that guy” – you know, the “Jesus juke” guy, the guy who always has a super-spiritual retort for everything, the guy with the stern look and pointed finger that says, “If you were a good Christian like me, you wouldn’t…” Finish the sentence with whatever you’d like – most of us have heard it all. That guy gets annoying, right? I’m really not him. Further, I feel we should refuse to support that guy in his overly-legal complaining.
I pointed out last week that the harsh responses to Rebecca Black’s “Friday” video showed that we are a sort of “culture of jerks”. As long as it’s funny enough, we have no problem bullying people around. But there’s another side to this story – bullying is bad for culture, but criticism is healthy for culture (necessary for any free culture) and can and should be expected.
Rebecca Black purposefully made her song public, she posted the music video on YouTube for everyone to see. If you are involved in any artistic endeavor, publicizing your art will automatically open you up to criticism – potentially massive amounts in a world wirelessy connected. Should she have been bullied? No – that part is unfortunate. Should she expect to be criticized? Yes – that part is normal.
Here’s another example. Most of us have seen this before…
…for one reason only: despite the artist’s intention, it’s a bad piece of songwriting – officially “bad art”. And I have no problem saying that, even with the clear (painfully clear) and orthodox message of this song. Do the folks in this video seem to be very sincere and well-intentioned people? Absolutely yes! Is the song worth your worship team covering as their pre-worship mingling piece? Absolutely no! Christian charity and kindness doesn’t mean we overlook bad ideas or bad art, even among the fold (90’s CCM, anyone?).
Unlike the rest of our culture, for the Christian there is “no bullying allowed” – but intelligent, thoughtful criticism? Absolutely. Criticizing Christianly is actually a thoroughly biblical idea (John, 7:24, 1 Cor 2:15, et al). In today’s marketplace of ideas, you are in competition with everyone else – if you publicize something that’s not very good, don’t run crying to mommy when it’s criticized by the masses.