Monday, June 21, 2010

Redeeming the Week in Entertainment: 6/12 - 6/19

This will be the first entry into what I hope will eventually become a weekly one. I watch a variety of different television shows, films, youtube videos, DVDs, and sporting events, in the span of any given week, and this weekly feature will aim to 'redeem' them. In other words, was their something redeeming about that Seinfeld episode I watched earlier in the week, what about the NBA Finals game, and how about that video that got e-mailed to me?

What exactly do I mean by redeeming? Instead of just simply looking to kill time or 'veg out', I'll be looking deeper into the entertainment I take in and try and glean something of value from it. This will probably manifest itself in a quick paragraph or two on a few of the things I watched the previous week. You might get an articulate discourse on deep philosophical themes, or just a quick unsupported opinion or two. Some of the items included may seem 'unredeemable', but certainly I feel the act of thinking critically about it and recognizing its' faults and weaknesses, can itself be a redeeming act. It's ultimately an exercise for me to continue thinking deeper about the entertainment I consume, as well as a way to kind of share a 'week in review' with anyone who cares to read. All in all, we'll see how it turns out.

"California Gurls" by Katy Perry ft. Snoop Dogg
Youtube Music Video
**Video is not suitable for Work or for All Ages. Watch at your own discretion

I heard the song on the radio a couple weeks ago, then kept hearing it. It eventually got stuck in my head and I began to get curious about a few of the lyrics so I then looked up the video. Beyond being an extremely catchy tune, this song and video are horrendous. It certainly follows the current trend of kitschy and over the top music videos, but ultimately also follows the trend of women allowing themselves to be exploited simply as objects of sexual satisfaction. The video ultimately features a lineup of women dancing in suggestive (and terribly unimaginative) costumes, while singing lyrics about how California women are openly promiscuous. Snoop Dogg comes off as the 'pimp' in the video, a role he clearly seems comfortable with.

I include this video because it's so easy to just listen to this song and sing along with it, without actually considering what it's lyrics and video are presenting. I'm not saying its wrong to listen to it (darnit for being so catchy), but that once one knows fully well the underlying messages and video portrayals it just becomes harder to overlook them. I'm just tired of women portraying themselves as objectified sex objects for the pleasure of men. It's one thing to sing your own praises, but a complete other to obviously pander to men's basest desires. Perhaps it doesn't help matters that Snoop Dogg is a peddler of his own pornography line, this continues to give the impression that Perry (whose career this is) is just a girl in Snoop's own lineup.

"I Can't Be Tamed" by Miley Cyrus
**Video is not suitable for Work or for All Ages. Watch at your own discretion

It really is an unfortunate turn for the career of Miley. It seems as though every young female artist has to have some type of "coming out" song that declares they aren't the young pop princess they used to be, and as much as this song wants to claim that Miley can't be tamed, she certainly is following a predictable, bankable, and artistically empty course. How is this video and song any different than what Britney, Christina, or Lady Gaga have done? Songs like "The Climb" and "Party in the USA" for all their cheesiness or pop ballad machine cut feel, were different than the field of dance club fetish songs out there right now. There's nothing more tame and predictable than for Miley to re-envision herself as a fetishistic, brooding, and 'un-tameable' woman. No one needs to tame something thats already lame.

Celtics vs. Lakers
Game 7 of the NBA Finals

The last couple of years I've enjoyed watching the NBA playoffs. I typically don't follow the regular season (just don't have the time), but the playoffs have always made me clear my nightly schedule. Now there are certainly exceptions to the rule here, but NBA playoff basketball is filled with redeeming storylines, players, and performances. In particular, the two teams that made it to the finals this year really captured my attention. The team play of the Boston Celtics was incredible to watch and follow. In fact, when the Celt's played the team defense they were capable of playing it was beautiful to watch their team make defensive rotations, double teams, blocks, and steals, then run down the court in transition and put it in the basket.

On the flip side, the Lakers were a case study in steady and determined reliance and trust in their system and strategy. It seemed as long as the Lakers were able to remain consistent to their strategy while the Celtics made their bursts of inspired play, they were able to outlast and overcome the Celtics. Overall, the effort, determination, mental adjustments and restraint displayed by both teams is something to walk away from inspired. It has certainly gotten me back into playing basketball, as well as considering how those qualities and values can be adapted to a ministry team.

Toy Story 3

For a detailed look into "The Hidden Story Behind Toy Story 3", check out my previously posted essay here.

USA vs. Slovenia
World Cup Soccer

The first time I've found myself completely engrossed in a soccer match. It was great to see a deflated US team come back during the second half and rally to tie. It was frustrating to watch a poorly officiated call rob the US of a much needed win. What to take away from this?

It's easy for non-soccer fans to make fun of the sport. It certainly isn't as schematic driven as football or basketball, and several elements are easy to pick on. However, I'm glad that I haven't given up on the sport when my first few viewings were not enjoyable. There is an interesting ebb and flow to a well played soccer match that can be just as entertaining as any sport I've watched. Between penalty kicks, corner kicks, crossing kicks and breakaways, there is little lack of tension and suspense.

As an American I would love to see instant-replay, less ties, and less emphasis on taking a dive, but for all those faults, there is plenty here to like. I'm glad I've stuck with the sport and didn't just close off to it. For those still not convinced, watch the games with other soccer fans, or if possible, soccer players. Ask them questions about what is going on, why certain players reacted in the way they did and so forth. There is a lot going on that I didn't know about, and if there is anything redeeming to take out of all the time I've spent trying to enjoy soccer, it's that we sometimes have to put forth a considerable effort to understand things we initially don't enjoy or understand. In the end, it was really worth it.


Anonymous said...


I was shocked (not sure why I was surprised) when I saw the the California Girls video. As far as Miley - that's just sad. She's trying to fit it and become a "big girl" now. So sad that she feels it's a right of passage. Hope Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood remain true to themselves.