Imagine getting the family together for some nice evening TV and watching a music video showing:
• A girl pulling a string on her sweater to immediately enhance her breast size;
• A girl in a tanning booth looking gross, then begging friends for attention;
• A girl on a plastic surgery table awaiting breast augmentation;
• A girl giving a speech as the President of the United States.
Those are all part of Pink’s “Stupid Girls” video, which is not always what you’d call family fare but is nevertheless relevant and powerful. It’s part of an emerging genre of music encouraging young girls—and everyone young at heart—to resist the cultural messages we may see around us and instead pursue a true sense of individual responsibility and choice. “Stupid Girls” is about the potential in teenage girls, which can be wasted when they conform blindly to what they see around them. A lyrical highlight:
What happened to the dreams of a girl president?
She’s dancing in the video next to 50 Cent
The video stretches the boundaries of PG-13, showing bolemic girls vomiting in the restroom and several other disturbing scenes, but the only thing scarier is the reality of the events in adolescent (and adult?) culture.
Also high on the charts is Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten,” with words and images to “reach for the distance, so close you can almost taste it, release your innovations” because “no one else can speak the words on your lips.” The wonderfully encouraging message continues with:
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten.
Her honest assessment that “we’ve been conditioned to not make mistakes” is followed by her declaration that “I can’t live that way.” She then invites us to “feel the rain on your skin” because “no one else can feel it for you.” This is the kind of authenticity that is required for a lifelong spiritual journey and one that many young people seek.
And finally, Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” offers a realistic connection for anyone who needs a dose of realism rather than a message that ignores how hard life can be and how discouraging tomorrow can seem. Consider:
Sometimes the system goes on the blink
And the whole thing turns out wrong
You might not make it back and you know
That you could be well oh that strong
And I’m not wrong.
The music video for this song offers a nice positive ending, but the lyrics are giving comfort to tens of thousands of people whose bad day is oh-s0-real and for whom the connection to Powter overcomes the age factor which music executives said would stifle his career.
The ultimate peer pressure message for all ages is “you must change your behavior and conform to societal norms to be loved and to feel important.” I don’t remember electing media executives to be our Values Directors and therefore I celebrate those artists whose music and message invites us—and our kids—to think, feel, search, and act for themselves.