Last week, a friend sent me a link to the blog Stuff Christian Culture Likes. Not to be confused with the evangelical site, Stuff Christians Like, Stuff Christian Culture Likes zeroes in on the strangeness of US evangelicalism with a more jaded perspective.
The blog raises an issue that I've been thinking about a lot recently—that is, that evangelicalism has its own weird language, with its smattering of words that take on a completely different meaning in evangelical culture. It even coins words and phrases of its own. In another post, I outlined some of the terms related to Christian patriarchy that I think you should know. Here, I offer another list of problematic entries (in no particular order), each paired with a corresponding Christian Contemporary Music track that you can find on YouTube.
I have a confession to make. I was raised in an evangelical Christian home, and when I was much much younger... I was a fan of contemporary Christian music (CCM). Oh, yes. I reailzed just how much of an affront to music it is almost half of my life ago, but lately, I've been thinking about just how entrenched it is in the ideology of the Christian Right. Consider this awful 1995 track by Twila Paris called "Rescue the Prisoner." (The "prisoner," it turns out, is a member of the LGBTQ community who is said to be "demanding rights" and "defending wrong.")
A couple of commenters have raised questions about progressiveness in country music. Today, I want to suggest that there are progressive voices, at least in Americana, roots, and alt country music, but those voices are limited. They are almost always white, and usually populist and male. There are a few women in country who arguably identify as feminists. None of these artists are evangelical Christians like some major label country musicians, but faith imagery permeates much of their songwriting. It is often used in visions of a Utopian future, or it takes on a perverse meaning.
There's been an uproar in New York all this week about an anti-abortion billboard in Soho. The billboard featured a little black girl with the message, "The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb." Launched by anti-abortion group Life Always, the billboard served as a controversial way to bring attention to the fact that black women have a disproportionately high abortion rate in New York City and nationwide. While that's clearly worrisome, suggesting that black women are a threat to black children for exercising their reproductive rights is extremely offensive. One of the top reasons women get abortions is because they can't afford to raise children. Rather than address this dynamic as well as the disproportionate number of African Americans who lack health insurance, Life Always chose to publicly disparage black women.
You know how we've all been wondering how MTV could continue to air Teen Mom and 16 & Pregnant while avoiding the topic of abortion? Nearly one-third of teen pregnancies end in abortion, yet the popular MTV shows have skirted the issue for a few seasons—until now.
The launch of the blog series Bechdel Test Canon begins with reflections on 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.
Cartoonist and graphic novelist Alison Bechdel created a three-part criteria for movies in her seminal comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. Adopted as the Bechdel Test, movies that meet its standard must feature 1) two female characters who 2) talk to each other about 3) something other than a man.
MTV's been having a good summer. In part, that's because the second season of its reality series Teen Mom has been generating huge ratings for the network—it is this summer's third-most-watched original cable series in the coveted 12-34 demographic. The show, which documents the lives of four young women after they gave birth to children as teenagers, along with its sister show and predecessor 16 and Pregnant, has already generated a fair amount of cultural chatter on the question of whether the show is a valuable educational tool or just, as most seem to have concluded, regular old exploitation of the young women in question. There's something to this argument, of course. MTV's ratings success makes for a strange contrast with the fact that Teen Mom's stars have been occupying the front pages of celebrity weeklies like US complaining that they are dead broke, doesn't it?
I'm of two minds about the argument. On the one hand I certainly don't have much faith in MTV's dedication to social messaging, at least not enough to believe it extends much further than what advertisers are comfortable with. I'm not the first, for example, to point out that abortion, as an option, is not something that's seriously discussed in the context of the show. You can spin that fact as having something to do with showrunners needing to have a more extended narrative arc than, "Now I'm pregnant, now I'm not." But Teen Mom does follow one young couple, Catelynn and Tyler, after they've given their child up for adoption, so sponsor queasiness seems a more likely explanation.