Tonight, with millions of others, I watched MTV’s 2011 Video Music Awards. I enjoyed the comments on Twitter more than I did the actual program. I came away with 6 conclusions from tonight:
1. There are so many young, insanely rich “stars” that sing, act, perform and live completely pointless lives that are driven by nothing else than getting famous, and hopefully rich at the same time, it makes me literally want to throw up.
2. If 99% of the people featured on the VMA’s tonight died, no one would care and forget about them in a week. This doesn’t make it right, or even something I wish would happen, it’s just a fact. Case in point, when Amy Winehouse passed away, the music world and its rabbid fans were sad for a day or two. She trended on Twitter for a while, then nothing until tonight’s tribute. She’ll trend for one more evening then be gone again. This time probably forever – or until next year’s Grammys when she’s got one last tribute to go, at which point I would be shocked to ever hear her name uttered again. I feel like the biggest lesson that these “stars” need to learn from Winehouse is more than the dangers of addiction, but more importantly, that a waste of a life to selfish matters of fame, money and stardom are the epitome of worthlessness. Being famous for being famous is a sad, sad life. Because when it’s over, it’s over. They’ve made no lasting mark and will be forgotten as quickly as their sex tape burst them into stardom. At least Amy Winehouse had a discernible talent, and look how quickly she’ll fade away.
3. People either love or hate Lady Gaga. She is without a doubt totally strange. I think she’s wildly entertaining because she owns her weirdness (as so many others try to annoyingly copy it Nikki Minaj, Ke$ha and to some extend Katy Perry) and she knows no other way than to keep it real. I believe she sings so much about music as a new religion because she, and so many others she represents and speaks for, yearn for a connection with something greater – an all powerful and loving Being that has the power, authority, grace and judgement to give and take away. It’s a shame Christians haven’t figured out how to love those better who feel less than and outcasted. Those in such a space have, at least for now, a new god… Her name is Lady Gaga. She has never proclaimed herself as a god or someone others should follow or worship, all she is doing is giving those with no hope a voice to be heard and loved. I don’t know why anyone is amazed at the response she’s getting – the largest and most rabbid following in the history of music.
4. The more F-bombs you drop live on air, the cooler you are. What are we, in 3rd grade when kids start swearing for the first time and the kid who swears the most is the new leader of the pack? Once again, literally want to throw up.
5. Authenticity shines even brighter when surrounded by thousands of posers. Adele is the real deal. The candid shots of her when she didn’t know she was on camera were priceless. Her real and raw performance was breathtaking. Justin Bieber – I can’t stand the kid, don’t think he’s at all talented and have not one inkling why he’s so, so huge. However, I genuinely believe what he tried to say about Jesus in his acceptance speech. Even though Bieber tries waaaay too hard to be cool (and akwardly mimics some street ghettoness in his expressions) I would take the next generation loving him 10 out of 10 times over the embarassing slop trying to be passed off as popular. Well, maybe I just answered my own question on why Bieber is so famous…
6. I love gangster rap… I have since I was much younger. Why? It’s because the old school rappers lived a hard life trying to survive and the raw words, emotions and convictions that oozed out of their songs and albums stirred my soul for justice against the systemic oppression laid upon them by circumstance of being born black and poor in the ghetto. This new stuff – please. How much more can our culture take from rappers rapping about hoes, money, power, alcohol, cars, bling and whatever else. Give me someone from the streets rapping about what it means to survive day by day (enter the transgenerational messages of TuPac), not this auto-tuned fluff as every rapper swears they’re great singers now. How ’bout it Kanye and Lil Wayne?
For most of my life I have genuinely loved pop culture. Especially over the last decade. It’s an escape for me, from the difficult and overt seriousness of the daily grind that makes up my everyday life. But I’m tried. I would rather not escape at all than to turn any longer to what I saw tonight. My heart aches for the realness of what I grew up with in the late 80s through the 90s. I’m 30 years old, and I know every generation in history has a love affair with their childhood era – its morals, values and worthiness of cultural, social and religious exploration. Whether or not I’m falling into that same pattern, time will tell. But for now, I’m willing to be content with knowing that what I see is without a doubt driving me to learn more intently what it means to live a life and faith of significance – something that has an eternal value that cannot be measured by our culture’s current metric of worth. Over the course of my life I have come in personal contact with a few people that I irrevocably don’t want to be like (yes, some of those are diva Christians). Although I have never met anyone on tonight’s VMAs (or VMA pre-show), I can now add a few more to my list. Worst case scenario, if I’m the exact opposite of those folks I know at least I’m headed in the right direction.