Is the “Virgilicious” Incident a Matter of Misunderstanding Pop Culture?
Fellow Lutheran blogger, Josh S., offers an interesting perspective on the Virgilicious video incident. What do you think? Is this incident a case of older people not understanding younger people and hence not "getting" pop culture enough to see the humor here? Here is a key point in his post that deserves further scrutiny, commentary and criticism:
Without commenting on the video, which I have not seen, all I have to say to some of the people getting really bent out of shape is: LEARN SOMETHING ABOUT POP CULTURE. I’m
reading all these comments on Paul McCain’s blog where many of the
clueless Boomers commenting clearly have no concept of what a parody
is. They don’t have a satirical bone in their bodies. And because they
know nothing about pop culture, not only do they not understand satire,
but they can’t even begin to understand it because they don’t actually know what
is being satired. For example, "Baby got Book" is just a stupid rap
song by some evangelicals trying to be hip with the kids and cheapening
the Bible…unless you’ve seen "Baby got Back" (which no Pietist has
ever seen), and then it becomes rather hilarious and something of a
self-parody. Or let’s consider the case of Eminem. He uses
cuss-language. He says some pretty violent-sounding stuff. And if you
don’t know anything about pop culture, you just think he’s an
abhorrent, gutter-scraping sensationalist. He makes you angry.
But when you know something about rap culture, about ghetto culture,
corporate music culture, and a little bit of his biography, you realize
that a lot of his stuff has these ridiculously deep layers of irony,
satire, and candid appraisal of reality. That’s why he’s had such
staying power. Sure, some of his stuff is just gross. But someone who
doesn’t know the culture can’t see that. All he can see are bad words
and violence and obscenity.
I don’t know where I’m going with
this. I guess I just think that if someone says or does something you
find really offensive, you should try to figure out what they’re trying
to say and why. And if there’s really something wrong about it, you
won’t be able to correct them in a proper way if you don’t take the
time to understand them.
Some of his readers agree with Josh S., you can read some of the comments his readers made in the extended entry.
My position is that you need to understand what’s going on in the world prior to issuing your condemnations. If it is truly CUW’s and your position that you absolutely do not need to understand the youth and pop culture, I’m sorry to hear that.
Considering CUW is my alma mater this has hit pretty close to home. I
actually saw the video when it was posted originally and was shocked
and annoyed. The video was done in extremely bad taste and even
included women dancing and rolling around in the chancel. Ultimately,
it wasn’t the fact that it was a parody that was truly offensive – it
was how it was done and what was used. I am happy to hear of their
repentance in the matter and I thank Pr. McCain for taking a strong
stance against it. I must agree with Josh, however, in that it did at
times come across like boomers wagging their finger at "those darn
kids." While I agree that it was sinful, often arguments gravitated
away from Scripture and more toward personal venting, voicing a dislike
of rap, etc. I know some people were just trying to identify their
biases, as one commenter on Cyberbrethren explained, but it still came
across to this young person as "I hate rap; you kids should be
listening to Bach." Ultimately, I’m thankful for the repentant outcome
and I hope we can all learn something from this.
For those dropping the hammer on these kids why did they make this
video? Was it their intent to communicate a "sacrilegious" message? If
not then maybe you need to back off the firebreathing a little and take
a different course of action.
For example, pointing out that
what they did offended their brothers and sisters and asking them to
conduct themselves with consideration for their fellow heirs in Christ.
Of course this doesn’t have quite the ring of screaming "YOU
HAVE OFFENDED GOD!!!" but what can I say, not everything can be quite
This is all assuming, of course, that the alter,
vestments, and other trappings of church aren’t considered to be
inherently sacred by Lutherans. I can’t speak to that particular
position, since I’m somewhat ignorant on Lutheran matters.
McCain, I’d be a little concerned about some of your commenters. When
they write, "I, too, don’t like rap to begin with, but if it was an
attempt to present the Gospel in rap form, I could have at least
understood it (still wouldn’t have liked it but would have understood
When you’ve got Reverends saying they don’t like a clear
presentation of the gospel because of the form it takes, I start to
wonder if this is nothing more than a complaint about style, rather
than a concern about substance.
everything I’ve heard described sounds like it was done in extremely
bad taste and was very ill-advised. [McCain’s response to this comment:
Is there ever a time when sacrilege and irreverence and blasphemy are
ever not in bad taste and could be well-advised?
I search for the video on youtube and saw it has been also taken down also on Rev. McCain’s site.
Perhaps someone could put it back up somewhere so I and everyone else can make a judgment for ourselves.
must say, from what I’ve heard, Josh seems right. Again, bad decision
to use the chapel and all, but it does not sound like they meant to
mock Christ or something. Now, they might have done something
blasphemous, but it sounds like they didn’t mean to do so. If this is
the worst thing they do in college I think that things at Concordia
Mecqon is a pretty tame place.
Of course, I can’t make a decision for certain because it’s been taken down.