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

Who is Esperanza Spalding, and what is she doing with Justin Bieber's Grammy?

That's a question lots of people (many of them under the age of 16) asked in the wake of the Feb. 13, 2011, Grammy Awards, when the heretofore obscure jazz artist upset Bieber (and Drake) to take home one of the music industry's most prestigious awards.

Who is this daring young woman?

Spalding was raised by her mother in a rough neighborhood of Portland, Ore., and showed musical talent early on. She began playing violin when she was 5, then went on to dabble with other instruments until she found her true musical love, the bass, at age 15. She eventually entered the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Her debut album, Junjo, arrived in 2006. In 2009, she performed at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies at the request of that year's recipient. And in 2010, she was asked to perform at a Prince tribute concert, to be televised on BET.

For Spalding, that latter concert marked a crossroads. Long a fan of Alicia Keys, she mulled how to make her BET performance a career-making turn. But after working with some of the other artists on the docket, she changed her mind. "Every person looked like a California raisin—this incredibly delicious, tasty, captivating artist, who has a magnificent magnetism and a unique flavor about what they do and who they are, but all of that has just been sucked out in every direction," she told the Associated Press. "The industry has surrounded them with all of these superficial pyrotechnics and I think it's really sucked the life out of their creative spirit, and I find that really sad."

Here, then, is what Spalding doesn't deem to be superficial pyrotechnics:

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Of the 11 tracks on Chamber Music Society, only five have lyrics. "Apple Blossom" offers the album's most straightforward narrative. A duet with Brazilian singer/songwriter Milton Nascimento, it focuses on an "aging man" who is mourning the loss and celebrating the life of his deceased wife (or perhaps lifelong partner). We learn that the man and woman had hoped to start a family: "In summer they would dream/Of being three and smile." But before "the seed could bloom/She wilted from the chill/And all fell cold and still."

The story ruminates on the mysterious connections between body, soul and the hereafter: "As he opened the earth to receive her/He prayed heaven would be waiting to meet her," we're told. Then he planted "a seed/From their favorite tree," and now he spends time under its branches even as she looks down on him. ("And from above she's always watching/But her body lies 'neath the apple blossoms.")

Spalding toys with big ideas on "Little Fly," a musical rendition of William Blake's 1793 poem of the same name: "Little fly/Thy summer's play/My thoughtless hand/Has brushed away/ ... Am not I/A fly like thee?/Or art not thou/A man like me?" The song reflects on life, fate and God, affirming that whatever lies ahead, life is to be lived to its fullest.

On the ballad "Winter Sun," Spalding welcomes the warmth that sunshine brings to a cold season. "I know soon/You'll come tame the whip of the wind/And bathe the naked branches with warmth and light." But it's also possible to read a deeper meaning to the lyrics that follow, as Spalding could be singing about waiting for a special someone to walk into her life, or perhaps even be expressing hope and faith in God: "One kiss of your warmth/Heals the soul/Shine winter sun/Make this cold heart whole."

"Wild Is the Wind" perhaps longs for a passion that's not passing. "Give me more than one chorus," Spalding asks.

Objectionable Content

Mildly suggestive sensuality creeps into "Wild Is the Wind" as Spalding coos, "Like a leaf clings to a tree/So my darling cling to me/Let my love flow through you/Wild as the wind."

Summary Advisory

Bieber's legions likely would've lashed out at anyone who "stole" the Grammy from their pop idol. But the contrast between his music and Spalding's is indeed striking. While the mop-topped teen warbles tightly-constructed pop tunes about teenage love, Spalding's jazz is free form and luxurious, poetic and wild.

Jazz, even in its heyday, has never been music for the masses. It's a road less traveled, and its practitioners rarely find the fortune and fame that the Biebers of the world do. You can't dance to "Wild Is the Wind." You can't bang your head to "Little Fly." Esperanza Spalding's Grammy-winning offering, then, represents a different sort of music altogether, full of paradox and wonder mixed with occasional hints of chaos and sensory (if not sensual) delight.

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!