February 11, 2014

Have We Become TOO Culturally Relevant?

For Olympiphiles (like myself), this is a time of great rejoicing. Nearly every hour of every day for over a fortnight is filled with media coverage of medal hopefuls doing their thing. Every two years (alternating summer and winter), this happens. And usually, the opening ceremonies would cue me to pull up a piece of the couch and fall under the magical spell that accompanies the beauty of worldwide unity mixed with nationalistic fervor.

Not so, this year. While Sochi 2014 was cranking up, I was attending Transformed, SCBI's yearly women's conference in Indianapolis. Far from my mind were those five glorious rings descending upon the mountains of Russia. So you could imagine my surprise upon returning home to hear about the Russian Police Choir "getting down" to Daft Punk's "Get Lucky."

Yikes. Totes yikes, as James Earl Jones might say (cue recent Sprint commercial).


Of course, having landed at #1 on over 30 different music charts across the globe and having won two Grammys, this tune with the disco/funk throwback sound is only going forward. But I maintain that "Get Lucky" falls in line with a host of other sexually inappropriate songs of 2013, including (but not limited to) Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," Miley Cyrus's "We Can't Stop," and Pitbull and Ke$ha's "Timber." And I don't care how popular these songs become...no amount of bleeping can clean up their message. Hence the old adage, "What's right isn't always popular, and what's popular isn't always right."

I did a bit of research on the Russian Police Choir, and they appear to have been covering popular songs for quite some time now - unbeknownst to us in the ole' U.S. of A., of course. And like any good cover band (or choir - as the case may be), the RPC strives to stay "current" by appealing to the youthful masses. So, what better stage than the Olympics to display their uber-relevance...right?

Wrong. 

For those of you who are not as heavily steeped in youth culture as I find myself to be (being that I work with teens on the daily and find I can barely keep up!), you may not be familiar with the lewd lyrics that these secular hits boast. Well, you need not go past the broken record-style chorus of "Get Lucky" to get the message:



She's up all night 'til the sun
I'm up all night to get some
She's up all night for good fun
I'm up all night to get lucky

We're up all night 'til the sun
We're up all night to get some
We're up all night for good fun
We're up all night to get lucky

We're up all night to get lucky...
(repeat, ad naseum)

And of course the beat is super fun and stick-in-your-head-able. Ugh. 

[And for those of you who are wondering...no...the couple in the song are not man and wife. HA! If only we could be so "lucky."]

I first became hip to Daft Punk's lyrics when I was scanning the car radio one day with one of my clients in tow. This particular client had sexual behavior issues, and a song about "getting lucky" totally sent him into a frenzy. In the treatment of juvenile sexual offenders (which is part of my day job), it is very important to remove all temptation of recidivism or relapse into criminal behavior, i.e. re-offending. A huge precursor to that temptation is sexually explicit music and other media. Suffice it to say, "Get Lucky" does not get any play in my car.


A particularly concerning element of this song, as well as of the aforementioned "Blurred Lines," is that they both feature singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams - who is perhaps most notable for his theme songs in the kids' movies Despicable Me & Despicable Me 2. This leads me to believe that little kids by the droves are begging their mommies and daddies for Pharrell CDs that contain material far beyond their ken.

My diatribe about sexually inappropriate lyrics could get rather lengthy, so I will save that for a future post. [You knew that was coming!] However, my point for even sharing about the Russian Police Choir to begin with is this: sometimes we all push the envelope a bit too much when seeking to be avant-garde and edgy. What was meant to be cool and hip just ended up looking ridiculous - at least, it did to me. The juxtaposition of upright men of the law bumping and grinding to orgy-esque lyrics was just too much for a worldwide, family-friendly stage to handle. 


At the Transformed conference I mentioned above, a good friend and I were afforded the humbling pleasure of teaching sessions on how to reach the next generation of women for Christ. One of the points we taught was this:


Be culturally relevant, but don't go overboard. Remember, you have to be true to who YOU are to be able to teach them how to be who THEY are - in Christ.


So, to answer the question in this post's title: yes. Yes, we have become too culturally relevant at times. And I feel this is a trend that is only headed for the skies. The RPC's Olympic performance is but a mere scrape-of-the-surface example of this trajectory. Remember: our culture is a lost one. Allow the Holy Spirit to be your sieve. Hold on to the good, and strain out the bad. Connect with people "where they are," but realize that our lives and the Gospel they reflect are meant to be counter-cultural. Tread gently among the waters of cultural relevance, and don't let the waves sway your bold witness for Christ that is (and should ever be!) in stark opposition to the world.

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