3 THINGS THIS WEEK
Tonight Show Rae-gret
What it is: TikTok megastar Addison Rae appeared on The Tonight Show alongside Jimmy Fallon to showcase some viral dance moves, as well as perform her brand new single “Obsessed.”
Why it’s been deemed “problematic”: Addison Rae’s first single is meant to be empowering, but its lyrics speak of empty vanity and self-involvement. Of course, that’s not what everyone was talking about the next day. The dances that Addison “taught” Jimmy Fallon were borrowed from other TikTok stars, most of whom are Black. The fact that the influencer represented the dances as her own creation by performing them on television sparked fury in online forums for TikTok gossip. The copycat nature of TikToks makes things like intellectual property quite dicey, and it’s always been kind of difficult to determine who “owns'' the rights to a popular dance. While Addison Rae may not face long-term professional repercussions for her dance medley (which was, in all fairness, probably not even her idea), she might lose social media clout for a month or two.
Less Than Half
What it is: A Gallup poll released this week showed that only 47% of Americans are members of a house of worship. That’s a drop of 23 percentage points since 1999.
Why it’s hard to know what it might mean: For decades, church membership has been an essential metric for how engaged people are with their church community. For one thing, church membership is an extremely important data point for churches themselves as they make decisions on everything from community outreach to staff salaries. But in terms of what low nationwide church membership means for the overall spiritual “health” of America, the numbers might not tell the whole story. In general, younger Americans are more reluctant to commit their spiritual allegiance to one church home. (And since those coming of age now grew up surrounded by very public institutional scandals coming from within Christian churches, that reluctance doesn’t come out of nowhere.) American church membership peaked in the 60s, as Relevant points out, and has been declining since that time, so while it’s a low number, it’s not a new trend. It’s very possible that after a year of restricted or remote church services, a surge in interest in church involvement is waiting just around the post-Covid curve.
What it is: According to data collected by The Plan UK, over half of girls in the UK aged 14 to 21 report having been sexually harassed on their school’s campus.
Why it’s a global story: #EveryonesInvited, a hashtag started in the UK in June 2020, has been piling up entries in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard in London. The hashtag defines “sexual harassment” broadly, from receiving unwanted sexual comments to being touched without consent, and their stated goal is to bring awareness to what they call “widespread patterns of abuse.” It’s difficult to think of our young daughters being subjected to wolf whistles, cat-calls, being followed, or worse, but it’s even harder to imagine them being subjected to these behaviors without even knowing what is and what’s not appropriate, or possibly feeling a deep shame believing they are the problem and that they caused these behaviors. Conversations that help young people understand how worthy they are of respect and dignity, and to trust their instincts when they feel unsafe, may need to start in our homes earlier than ever.
Slang of the Week:
Edgelord: A person who makes extremely dark or exaggerated statements on social media in order to get attention, be controversial, or be seen as “edgy.” Example: “That used to be my favorite online forum, until the edgelords took it over and started posting Joker memes.”
Lil Nas X, Satanism, and the Heart of God
Last weekend, Lil Nas X released a music video for his song “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name).” The song is about hooking up with another guy, and the music video depicts Lil Nas X getting kicked out of the Garden of Eden and being sentenced to Hell, where he gives Satan a lap dance and then kills him to take his place. To help promote the video, Lil Nas X started the #PoleDanceToHell challenge on TikTok “for a chance to win $10,000.” He also partnered with the company MSCHF to release 666 pairs of “Satan Shoes,” which are black Nikes adapted with satanic imagery, and which each contain a literal drop of human blood.
People freaked out. Nike received massive backlash for their apparent endorsement of Satanism, and sued MSCHF for trademark infringement. Christians in particular responded with outrage, to which Lil Nas X replied (language), “i spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of the s*** y’all preached would happen to me because i was gay. so i hope u are mad, stay mad, feel the same anger you teach us to have towards ourselves.”
Part of why the satanic stunt is so disturbing is the fact that Lil Nas X has long been a kids’ favorite. When he surprised 5th graders at Lander Elementary for a performance of “Old Town Road,” the kids screamed every lyric at the top of their lungs. And yet still, some Christians saw the church’s outrage as counterproductive. As Aaron Gabriel Ross put it, “The worst thing the church can do is condemn the very thing that comes out of the hurt one has received from the church. In fact, when we do that, we only encourage more celebrities and people to speak out about the way they have been hurt by the church.”
May God give us grace to see past the outrage-bait and into the hearts of wounded people. Even though Lil Nas X’s conduct is far from blameless, may it also serve to remind us that our words matter, our tone matters, and our posture matters.
- How should we respond to people who have been hurt by the church?
- What do you think James 1:19-20 means?
- What makes you feel loved and cared for?
Keep the Faith!
The Axis Team