Disclaimer: Mature themes and explicit language are found in the links on this page.
There’s two music videos that my youth have shown me in the past few months that require a mature appreciation and a willingness to allow secular society to engage religious themes. Are they appropriate for Sunday morning worship? Er, no. But for a smaller study or youth group, I think they both work well. And the fact that my youth found meaning in them enough to tell their pastor about them is impressive.
First, P!NK has a new music video out “F*ing Perfect” that traces a youth’s struggles with identity and self-worth in a world that doesn’t seem to allow her to express herself and thus she expresses herself in increasingly dangerous and self-destructive ways. She has a blog post about the themes and links to TWLOHA. The following is the CLEAN version of the video (the NSFW version has f*bombs, drugs, a truly unnecessary sex scene, and significantly more blood in the bathtub scene).
This video includes suicide, bullying, shoplifting, graffiti, parental conflict, and cutting. [video link]
Second, Katy Perry has a video “Firework” about finding the spark in individuals. It involves characters growing to see their self-worth as more than external but is internal as well. It is lighter than P!NK’s video but it does glorify the more risky parts of teenagerhood (partying, raves, etc) rather than critique them.
This video includes domestic violence, dancing bikini-clad teens, and drinking. It includes a same-sex relationship but that is not a “warning” just an FYI. [video link]
Are there problems with these videos? Absolutely. For one, P!NK places the woman’s value on her artistic ability. Perry does not deal with the consequences of the brother standing up to domestic violence. But if we shy away from culture then we do not engage the themes and allow only secular society to dictate what they mean.
It’s one thing to see these videos as affirmation of self-worth. But if that’s where we allow the lesson to stand and do not engage or watch the videos, we miss out on the opportunity to show that self-worth is a gift by God. There’s a second level that we can take secular lessons that both affirm the message but show a deeper reflection that one might have missed otherwise.
Both of these can resonate with many texts about self-worth, created in the image of God, finding one’s place in a community, and many other student-age themes. Themes that reach deeper than the secular ones and use the videos as a jumping-off point to the biblical narratives rather than as revelers of surface-level truth. With some preparations and thoughtful connections, I believe you can make a good lesson out of either or both of these videos.