Why the Grammys Mattered more than Miley

Loud vs. Normal

We’ve had a lot of noisy pop culture incidents in the past year. But the most important ones are often the quiet ones. I’ll explain, next on BreakPoint.

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John Stonestreet

I know it’s already been over a week since the Grammy Awards, but what happened during this last week since speaks volumes, if you ask me.

I know this may be painful, but think back with me to Miley Cyrus’ performance at the VMAs, or even to last year’s Super Bowl halftime show with Beyoncé. In each incident, women were portrayed pretty blatantly as sexual objects on national television.

And each event generated a lot of cultural feedback—both positive and negative. Internet memes, talk shows, New York Times columns either lampooned these artists for their tasteless exhibition or celebrated them for “courageous, groundbreaking” artistry. And the noise went on for weeks.

But there’s been relative silence in the days following the Grammys. Think about it: The Grammysdaily_commentary_02_07_14 gave America its first same-sex wedding ceremony on national network TV. It was a big deal, but you would never have known this from the media. Sure, a few Christian voices and conservative media outlets pointed out the deceptive messages embedded in the performance. The religious accoutrements like stained-glass windows, traditional Christian vows, a choir, and Queen Latifah serving as minister—all to the tune of Macklemore’s “Same Love”—essentially declared that no matter who you’re attracted to, God approves.

But in a country where same-sex “marriage” is still not legal in more states than it is legal, there’s been hardly a peep from secular commentators about it. Why is it the case that other than the immediate tweets of praise during the show, there wasn’t much response to it outside of the Christian subculture?

The answer to that question tells us that this event—far more than Miley or Beyoncé—tells us about our culture’s condition.

C. S. Lewis wrote that the most dangerous ideas in a society aren’t the ones argued, but the ones assumed. For most of us—myself included—it’s tempting to take up arms and jump in the trenches every time a loud and headline-grabbing controversy breaks.

But if Lewis was right, it’s not the moments of intense crossfire that are the most culturally significant. They come and go. But it is those times, like the Grammy Awards, when culture doesn’t react, that really signal where we are.

Why do I say that?

The answer to that question includes decades of sitcoms, music, films, and a little book called “After the Ball.” In it, Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen prescribed twenty years in advance the media and pop-culture campaign that could, and eventually did, normalize homosexuality.

These authors, rejecting what they called the gay-right movement’s “outworn techniques,” proposed instead a campaign of “carefully calculated public relations propaganda…” These included portraying same-sex relationships as normal, healthy, even charming. And screenwriters for shows like “Will and Grace” and “Modern Family” followed, consciously or not, their blueprint. The results have been undeniable: more and more states continue to legalize same-sex marriage, and even television shows targeted at children now warmly portray gay parents.

And as recent controversies illustrate, expressing views that just a few years ago represented a majority of Americans can now come close to ending your career.

Last month, surrounded by triumphant music, bathed in the light of a religious façade, accompanied by heterosexual couples and cheered on by millions of fans, a handful of gay couples proclaimed their love is no different than anyone else’s. And the nation barely noticed, because it all seemed, well, just so normal.Newsletter_Gen_180x180_B

And that’s the power of culture: not just to proclaim right and wrong. The real power of culture lies in what it portrays to be normal. And people in that culture become the proverbial fish, who don’t even know they’re wet.

This is why our faith must include loving God and people, not just with our hearts, but also with our minds. It’s also why, as Chuck Colson often said, politics is most often downstream from culture. And it should encourage us to choose our battles carefully. After all, we just don’t need to panic every time someone twerks.

Further Reading and Information

BP-Takeaction_020714Why the Grammys Mattered more than Miley: Loud vs. Normal

The next time we feel like reacting to the latest cultural outrage, let's choose to engage by first demonstrating love for others.

The resources listed below offer strategies on presenting the Christian perspective on crucial issues in a well thought-out yet winsome way.


BreakPoint This Week: How to Make Your Case for Faith: 'The Columbo Tactic'
John Stonestreet interview with Greg Koukl | BreakPoint.org | January 31, 2014

What is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense
Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, Robert P. George | Encounter Books | December 2012



@Carl Ellis

I agree that the celebration of immorality by the Grammys was rather predictable. Still, if Christians do not speak against such sin or better yet offer a biblical alternative, then the culture will grow even worse.

For example, in the early 1990s, civil rights icon C. Delores Tucker condemned Time Warner for funding violent, misogynist Black rappers via its Death Row Record division. The rap industry viciously attacked Tucker, who sadly got no support from the Black community, including the Black church.

Now unopposed, Black rappers began freely normalizing the idea that immorality was synonymous with "authentic" Black manhood and womanhood. It wasn't until 2004 that some female students from Spelman College got fed up with the sorry status quo and publicly challenged popular rapper Nelly over his vile tunes. This started a long overdue rebuke to the Black rappers bringing down moral standards in Black communities.

The tragedy is that the decline of morality among Black youth could have been avoided if the Black church had stood up to Black rappers early on instead of fearing being labeled as "out of touch" or "sellouts." Similarly, the church in general is contributing to the decline of American culture by not defending marriage as the only healthy and holy expression of human sexuality.
I think I agree in part with some of the things that Ellis said. Some people are becoming weary of this sort of thing. Some are becoming jaded. Some are simply choosing to turn their backs on popular culture. And many of those who still think it matters, who feel motivated to speak up on the issue, are often too afraid of the response that may come if they say something unpopular. I don't think it means that it's been accepted as the norm, but I guarantee when the children of the Millennials and their children have grown up in an America where it is no longer questioned, then it will be the standard. Not picking on the Millennials, but their generation is the one most saturated so far with this sort of thing in the media. There's a lot happening with these kids in school today that isn't being discussed properly or addressed. Just one reason why my kids are homeschooled.
I agree that the most important go unnoticed, but here's another side to that argument ---->

I'm not sure the the silence on the Grammys is our culture excepting the weddings as normal (though our culture is more accepting of LGBTQ weddings increasingly every year) as much as Americans knowing what to expect from the Grammys, entertainment industry, & media over all.

These outlets have long since told us what their opinion is on these subjects for long enough that it's no longer a shock.

Beyoncé's outfit was coming as close a Janet Jackon skin show as possible & she had the illuminati rumors to add just the right amout of spice do get the attention that lasted about a month. Miley had the element of surprise last year because up until that point we had never seen her behave that way before.

But the Grammys putting on a a wedding for 34 gay couples is hardly a foot note anymore. It's equivalent to the Democrats pushing their image as being for the poor, or the Republicans not having a clue how to talk to black people (I am African American), or Howard Stern having anything of a sexual nature said on his show.

It's not that it's normal as much as it's normal for them.