Every now and then something happens that reminds me why we're working so hard to launch something new for kids. It can be something big and dramatic, or something small and seemingly innocuous. Last night it was something small.
My 11 year-old daughter was singing a song from Disney's Hannah Montana (aka Miley Cyrus). She sang the line, "Life's what you make it, so let's make it…"
Before she finished the line, I'm thinking that's a decent sentiment. Borderline educational and moderately empowering. Sort of like the Switchfoot line, "This is your life – are you who you want to be?" Let's make the most of our lives, kids!
Then my daughter finishes singing the line: "Life's what you make it, so let's make it ROCK!"
What? Huh? "Let's make it rock?" What does that even mean? Like the old Kiss song – "I wanna rock and roll all night – and party every day?" The reality is, that line doesn't mean anything. It is meaningless. It sounds like it almost means something – like Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus or the Disney Company almost had something to say to my daughter about what her life could mean. But then you actually hear the words and you realize, at the end of the day, they don't mean anything.
The problem with kids media today isn't that it is evil, it is that it is vapid. Empty. Pointless. It is empty calories. Frosting. Creme filling. Glaze. It has nothing to say to our kids about life on this earth or the God that made them special and loves them very much. And our kids consume it endlessly, on average, three hours per day.
We can do better.
Kids media can inform and shape while it entertains. Heck, Sesame Street figured that out. Mr. Rogers figured that out. But that was forty years ago. Kids media today lacks the will to teach kids anything. Yes, the shows on Nick and Disney are racially diverse. The characters recycle. But beyond that, they are mute.
We can do better. We can show kids the real world – a world where God exists and has something to say to us, if we will just stop and listen. A world where amazing people commit their lives to the work of the church and the benefit of others. A world where celebrity pales in comparison to generosity.
That's why we're doing this. No, JellyTelly isn't all that impressive yet. Compared to Nick or Disney, it's ridiculously small. It isn't much, but it's a start.
And we aren't going to stop.