Spending time with youth is both a great way to stay young and a great reminder of just how old I really am. The other day I was with our youth while they were talking about the band, One Direction. Even if you’re not familiar with One Direction, you know them. These five young men have taken over youth pop culture with their preppy look, dreamy smiles, catchy tunes, and auto-tune machine. Basically, even if you’ve never seen them before, you’ve seen them before. Anyway, here is a snippet of the conversation,
Youth 1: “People are saying they’re the new Beatles.”
Youth 2: “Yeah, they’re our generation’s Beatles.”
Just to be clear, I am not in the Beatles’ generation. At 35, I was never alive while the Beatles were together. I do however consider myself a Beatles fan. I count myself among the many that consider the Beatles to be the greatest band ever assembled. I also try to adhere to the concept that I should never deride youth culture. There was a time when I thought rolling my jeans was cool, so I don’t mock anything, but I couldn’t let this go unchecked.
Me: “I just threw up in my mouth a little.”
Youth: Weird looks
Me: “Did you just say that One Direction is the new Beatles?”
Youth 1: “Yeah, they’re our generation’s Beatles. That’s what people are saying.”
Me: “Who is saying that?”
Youth 2: “Everyone.”
Me: “Well, I think they’re probably more like your generation’s New Kids on the Block.
Youth 2: “But they’re from England, like the Beatles.”
Me: “Okay, so then they’re the new New Chaps on the Block.”
Youth 1 and 2: laughter
Again, my goal is not to mock youth culture, and I understand I probably just made myself look more like the grumpy old man than the cool youth leader. That’s okay though, I’ve never really been interested in being “Cool Youth Leader” guy. But here’s the thing, I actually have a problem with One Direction’s most popular hit, and it all comes down to one line. It is a seriously catchy song. One that has been sung many times before. It is about a girl that is beautiful, but doesn’t know it. It really is a common theme in pop music, and I understand why it resonates with so many young girls. They dream that somewhere there is a guy that is singing that song to her. Give this video a look-see, and see if you can catch the line that really bugs me.:
Did you hear it? The first line of the song is “You’re insecure, don’t know what for. You’re turning heads when you walk through the door.” That line is bad enough, but the line that really gets me comes at the end of the chorus: “You don’t know you’re beautiful. That’s what makes you beautiful.”
It is one thing to sing of the beauty of humility. It is something different to praise someone for being insecure. Humility and insecurity are very different. Insecurity comes from feeling you’re not good enough. It is born out of shame. Girls in our culture are told over and over again that they are not good enough, not skinny enough, not smart enough. Telling someone they are beautiful because they are insecure is praising their shame. Natural beauty should be admired, but insecurity is not a beautiful trait. Humility comes from self-confidence. Self-Confidence is beautiful.
The fact that these five boys are telling millions of young girls that insecurity is beautiful is troubling. True humility comes from a deeper understanding of self that transcends society’s idea of physical beauty. Self-confidence is rooted in love and grace. Self-confidence comes from knowing that you were formed by a God that only makes beauty, not from being told by an adolescent boy that flipping your hair drives him crazy.
Boys might think insecurity is beautiful. Men don’t. I hope someday One Direction grows up, but I’m guessing they’ll always be just another boy band.
4 responses to “The new Beatles?”
Boys are praised for being smart, strong, fast (as in running), funny, and so many other things. Girls are praised for being pretty. My problem with the song is not the one line. Of course an individual love song is one thing, but it is the constant message the worries me. “Your value, girl, is in how I feel when I look at you.”
What I got from it is that there is an understatedness to the girl in question that makes her beautiful shine through. She’s not prancing around thinking she’s Miss Thang.
Awesome blog Fat Pastor. I agree 100%.
Aw man! I’ve never heard the beginning of that song, just the chorus and bits of other verses, and it sounded like she was more humble than insecure. Although part of me always wondered if maybe they really were saying she was insecure and they liked it, I figured, naw, couldn’t be. So I let myself like the chorus – it seemed good. Now you’ve gone and ruined it for me by showing us that they really are singing about how insecurity is desirable! Phooey. ; )
In all seriousness, though, it isn’t a good message for all the teeny boppers who’ll be huge fans of these boys and will love every word they sing. They should have worded it differently – you don’t need to be insecure because you’re beautiful the way you are, you’re a sweet person and I like you for you, etc. Something other than normalizing and even praising insecurity.