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."


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!"


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

The biggest music story of 2009? Susan Boyle.

In April, an unassuming 48-year-old Scottish church volunteer wowed England with her show-stopping performance of "I Dreamed a Dream" (from Les Misérables) on the TV show Britain's Got Talent. In the days that followed, 120 million people around the world viewed the performance on YouTube.

Boyle's instantaneous rise from obscurity to white-hot celebrity paved the way for her debut album's massive success. I Dreamed a Dream was the year's biggest debut, with first-week sales of 701,000 copies in the United States alone. Since then, it's become the second biggest album of the year—3.1 million copies sold domestically and a 6 million worldwide—in just six weeks. (Only Taylor Swift topped Susan's U.S. sales, and she needed an 11-month head start).

Song-wise, Boyle's debut is a sometimes whiplash-inducing collection of covers that includes hymns, a Christmas song, show tunes, classic oldies and big hits by The Monkees, The Rolling Stones and Madonna.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Boyle has been outspoken about her Christian faith, which is evidenced by her inclusion of "How Great Thou Art," "Amazing Grace" and "Silent Night." She also sings Patty Griffin's 2007 gospel-esque tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., "Up to the Mountain."

Juxtaposed against those spiritual tracks are melancholy, melodramatic odes to determination from The Stones ("Wild Horses") and Madonna ("You'll See"). A deep desire to please (perhaps one's parents?) comes through on "Proud" (a song from the U.K. television show Britannia High). On it, Susan sings, "One day if I'm allowed/ … One day I'll make you proud." Likewise, "Who I Was Born to Be" bursts with Broadway-like gravitas ("Though I may not know the answers/I can finally say I am free/And if the questions led me here/Then I am who I was born to be").

Objectionable Content

Ironically, Boyle's signature song, "I Dreamed a Dream," tells a story of anguish and dashed hopes. It's not negative, per se, but it certainly doesn't end on a happy note: "I had a dream my life would be/So different from this hell I'm living/ … So different now from what it seemed/Now life has killed the dream I dreamed." Ouch.

A stanza on "Wild Horses" could be negatively interpreted: "I know I've dreamt you a sin and a lie/I have my freedom but I don't have much time/Faith has been broken, tears must be cried/Let's do some living after we die"). One could also say that Madonna's boot-straps determination on "You'll See" is a tad unhealthy ("All by myself/I don't need anyone at all").

Summary Advisory

Many inkwells have already been emptied parsing the significance of Susan Boyle's story. My comment is simple: It's a remarkable illustration of what happens when you intermingle reality TV, the Internet, a Cinderella-like narrative and a heaping dollop of real talent.

Listening to the album, I was surprised by what it was like to hear Boyle's voice without watching Simon Cowell raising his eyebrows. Her voice—isolated from the circus that's surrounded her—packs a powerful emotional punch. So this release isn't just the continued packaging of the month's celebrity flavor. It's truly good music in an amalgamated genre that's stood the test of time for a good many decades.

Lyrically, there are no significant problems and few minor ones. Much of the album feels more than a little Dickensian as Susan dutifully trudges through the emotional fog of life's hardships. But just as Dickens did, she reminds us—every two or three tracks—of the faith and hope that sustains and guides her.

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



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!