Have you noticed an increase in on air over-the-edge language or behavior, like television and cinema’s fascination with the F-word or sexual situations in commercials, or outright obscene or pornographic displays in cultural discourse? We are a culture in moral free fall.
Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #69 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.
The Grammy Awards, dating to 1959, are the music industry’s annual recognition of outstanding achievements in the music arts. They are considered by many to be a television spectacle featuring the best and increasingly the most outrageous in music artists.
This year in 2023, “award nominees Sam Smith and Kim Petras performed their duet titled…"Unholy," complete with ominous red lighting and dancers writhing amid flames. Smith was dressed like Satan in a red cape and top hat with horns. He tweeted photos of himself during rehearsal saying, "This is going to be SPECIAL." To which CBS, the network broadcasting the show, responded with the tweet, "You can say that again. We are ready to worship!”
Sam Smith first came out as gay, then genderqueer, an umbrella term meaning not solely male or female, and most recently as non-binary preferring to be addressed as they/them. Fellow artist Kim Petras is transgender, having had gender-confirmation surgery when he/she was just 16 years old. Petras made appearances as “the world’s youngest transsexual.”
Petras said of the Grammy performance, “I think a lot of people, honestly, have kind of labeled what I stand for and what Sam stands for as religiously not cool, and I personally grew up wondering about religion and wanting to be a part of it but slowly realizing it didn’t want me to be a part of it,” she said, per Variety. “So it’s a take on not being able to choose religion. And not being able to live the way that people might want you to live, because as a trans person I’m already not kind of wanted in religion. So we were doing a take on that and I was kind of hellkeeper Kim.”
The Sam Smith/Kim Petras emphasis on Satanism came just two years after rappers Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion “performed,” (I use that word advisedly) with a risqué presentation of the song “WAP” at the 2021 Grammy Awards.
“In the lyrics, Cardi B and Megan discuss how they want to be pleased by men, specifically referencing numerous sexual practices.” The song’s title, WAP, is an acronym representing a phrase so graphic and crude I’ve chosen not to say it on this podcast.
During the performance on network television, Cardi B channeled her stripper past with some pole dancing. Both musicians strutted, writhed, twerked, and grinded together on a huge bed in Barbarella-esque skimpy outfits. Media reporting on the event spoke of female empowerment, sexual pride, and a sex-positive message. Apparently, sex-positive is the new way of describing bacchanalia.
Musicians and entertainers in general have always been on the edge if not over it in terms of rude, crude, and lewd. This goes back thousands of years in multiple cultures. What’s new now is the degree to which these kinds of celebrations of debauchery are presented and promoted on television, and the degree to which the entertainers themselves are looked upon as some kind of avant garde role models or bold and brave defenders of personal liberties.
There was a time when I was a kid that cartoons, for example, the old cartoons, reached up, so to speak, to high culture. They made funny and harmless entertainment for children in the context of Mozart or Shakespeare, or the best of Americana. Now, beginning somewhere in the 1960s, cartoons or children’s entertainment in general has been on a decades-long slide toward presentation of what is debased and morally questionable.
Articles are regularly written that attack or at least judge conservatives in general or Christians in particular as Puritans or prudes, because they often object to the content presented in television shows, movies, or as illustrated above, awards shows.
Such articles argue the culture wars are a figment of conservatives or Christians; imagination, that nothing really is going wrong, and no one on the right side of history should object to an anything goes approach. The reason these articles say the culture wars do not exist is because the authors don’t have a moral compass that recognizes wrong or is willing to embrace any standard short of licentiousness. The Grammys are just one example.
Such moral chaos is the stock in trade of many contemporary so-called artists, online influencers, or celebrities. As they age, and perhaps as what talent they have begins to diminish or is no longer marketable, the artists or celebrities seem willing to do about anything to get themselves covered online, to in their minds stay relevant.
Madonna is one example, a one-time rock star who now spends most of her time making outrageous comments and, sadly, disfiguring herself with plastic surgery.
Britney Spears is another younger version of Madonna. Britney is a one-time youthful pop star who is approaching middle age, is not producing marketable music, and who to stay in the limelight spends much of her time post pictures of herself with limited even no clothing, just strategic coverage. Even her children have tried to get her to stop this embarrassing and demeaning display.
There is such a thing as the culture wars. Yes, some people have acted in overwrought fashion and brought ridicule toward those who simply believe in family values. But it is easy to demonstrate the moral decline of contemporary culture and discourse.
Politicians, not just celebrities, and television commercials now regularly use four letter words, build their message around sexual inuendo, flash partial nudity or vulgar hand gestures.
Celebrities in my youth, like Johnny Carson or Jerry Lewis, were certainly familiar with lewd behavior or language, but cultural norms at the time kept them in check on air. Not so now.
“The real problems in our world are not the result of bad political policies or poor education or inequitable income distribution. The problem in our world is that there are forces of wickedness in heavenly places, and sinners are held captive by them to do their will. And that means the single solution to all of the problems in our world is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that human solutions to spiritual problems are utterly useless.”
So, Christians, we know the truth, and it is our task to make it known. Don’t give in or give up. Speak the truth in love.
Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s rexmrogers.com.
And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2023
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