WHY WE CARE


Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

YOUR STORIES


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"

SUPPORT THE WORK OF PLUGGED IN

Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Album Review

If you randomly plucked one member of Kings of Leon, Counting Crows, My Chemical Romance, Ramones, The Clash, Sex Pistols and Violent Femmes, put them in a room and told them to come up with an album, I think it would probably sound something like Cage the Elephant's Thank You Happy Birthday.

Manic vocals tumble downhill like a novice skier dropped from a helicopter onto a double black diamond run. Behind him, guitar chaos closes in, a sonic avalanche chewing up the backcountry scenery. All around him are dense, sometimes cryptic ruminations that swing from positive to pensive to downright brooding.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

"Around My Head" playfully complains about how a man can't get the object of his affection out of his thoughts. The song also credits God for initiating the blossoming relationship ("'Cause God, He told me, He said He's gonna send me something lovely").

"Shake Me Down" seems determined to maintain hope instead of moping miserably through life ("In my life I have seen/People walk into the sea/Plagued by constant misery/With their eyes cast down/ … I'll keep my eyes fixed on the sun"). Similar sentiments inhabit "2024," where someone who's discouraged gets a (possibly metaphorical) message from the future that things will eventually get better. "Rubber Ball" admits to reaping the consequences of a repeated mistake ("Got no self-control/Now I'm back here in line") but strikes an optimistic stance anyway ("All I got is nothing but a little bit of love/Gonna give it to the people, then they'll see"). "Always Something" rightly notes that we don't have as much control over circumstances as we'd like to believe.

"Indy Kidz" criticizes television's deceptive influence ("I don't watch TV cause it's just a box of lies/It makes me want to stick a toothpick in my mind") and warns against trying to keep up with too-cool trendsetters. Likewise, "Sell Yourself" rebukes someone for allowing himself to be taken advantage of for the sake of money ("So sad to see you torn apart by all your selfish greed"). "Japanese Buffalo" tells another person, "It's a shame/That your heart turned to stone." A line on "Shake Me Down" could be interpreted as a rejection of sex without love and commitment ("In my past bittersweet/Found no love between the sheets") or …

Objectionable Content

… heard as a lament about not having had sex at all. A similarly amorphous line on "Aberdeen" could also be a sexual allusion ("Saw the flame, tasted sin/You burned me once again").

Expanding on Murphy's Law, "Always Something" fatalistically insists that negative circumstances lurk around every corner. Two examples: a hardworking husband who finds his wife in bed with another man, and going from being a Good Samaritan to a murder victim after offering a hitchhiker a ride. "It's always something, you know it's always something," the chorus comments.

A similarly morose outlook permeates "Right Before My Eyes," on which Cage the Elephant bellows, "Right before my eyes I saw this whole world lose control/ … I fell through the floor, I couldn't take it anymore/I can't take this anymore, it breaks my mind." Ambiguous yet foreboding, the song goes on to say, "Golden needle, names we take in vain/Find it harder to remain/Nothing sacred/Still waiting on that explanation." Things seem even more hopeless—and violent—when we hear, "Hold her dirty hands over the flames/Getting pleasure from the pain/Softly screaming/The pistol that your raise has spoken."

Summary Advisory

"Our parents were very religious." says lead singer Brad Shultz in a Guitar World interview. "And when Matt [Brad's brother and rhythm guitar player for the band] and I were young, our dad wouldn't let us listen to much secular music. The only secular music we were allowed to listen to was stuff like The Beach Boys and Tommy James and the Shondells. Once in a while my dad might throw in some Joe Cocker. But I had to sneak to listen to a tape of Jimi Hendrix's Are You Experienced. I'd fall asleep listening to it and my dad would catch me with the tape. He kept tapes like that in a crate in his room. Me and Matt would break in there so often that he started putting a little piece of thread near the bottom of the door jamb. If we walked through the doorway, we'd trip the thread and he'd know we'd been in there."

Evidence of the Shultz's self-described religious background does turn up here and there on Thank You Happy Birthday, from recognizing God's role in bringing the right girl, to more opaque lyrics that perhaps reflect a drift from the faith they were raised in. And that contrast, between upbeat optimism on one hand and morbid fatalism on the other, is what you remember about this Elephant long after the pandemonium fades.

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!