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.

Track Review

Lady Gaga has an ambivalent relationship with celebrity.

Her first album was called The Fame. And fame was something she deliberately cultivated early on via her Warholian homages to jarring imagery and outlandish outfits—such as a dress made of meat, for instance. Having established herself as a bona fide stylistic provocateur, Gaga then veered from the bizarre into the noir with a decidedly darker effort, The Fame Monster. As that EP's title implies, the eight-song collection hinted that perhaps celebrity wasn't all it's cracked up to be after all.

Gaga continues those conflicted contradictions on "Applause," her first single from her third full-length studio album, ARTPOP, and her first new music since 2011's Born This Way. When she tells us, repeatedly, "I live for applause, applause," it's not completely clear whether she's bragging about it, making a confession or deconstructing her own—and other celebrities'—addiction to it.

In typical Gaga fashion, I'd suggest she's probably doing all three at the same time.

At the very least, she's couching her hunger for acclaim in addictive terms, hinting at both its danger and its tantalizing promise. "I stand here waiting for you to bang the gong," the song begins (perhaps a reference to the '70s and '80s variety series The Gong Show, in which participants were vetoed by celebrities wielding performance-ending gongs), "To crash the critic, saying, 'Is it right or is it wrong?'" She then tells us she wishes she could experience the highs of fame without that risk of rejection: "If only fame had an IV, baby, could I bear/Being away from you, I found the vein, put it in here."

In other words, she's enthralled by the rush of fame but horrified by the all-too-real possibility of soul-crushing criticism. Given that conundrum, she confesses that she'll still do anything to keep receiving the applause she's become dependent upon: "I live for the applause, applause/ … Live for the way that you cheer and scream for me/The applause, applause, applause/ … Put your hands up, make 'em touch, touch (make it real loud)/Give me that thing that I love (I'll turn the lights out)."

After a while, she admits, an artist seeking constant approval from fans begins to lose her identity in the pursuit of that affirmation: "Pop culture was in art, now art's in pop culture in me."

"Applause," then, offers a nuanced and multilayered assessment (for a pop song, certainly) of humans' ever-escalating need for attention. And the accompanying video explores this conflicted theme in some eyebrow-arching ways. Gaga performs in a variety of costumes, some of them barely there—such as one with (only) strategically placed seashells and another in which cloth "hands" grab her breasts, her groin and her throat. She writhes sensually and suggestively in lingerie on a mattress and on the floor.

She also performs in a covering, black, hooded leotard as if to provocatively defy the description of sexy. She also alternates wearing elaborate makeup with moments in which it appears she's wearing none, allowing her own shockingly normal-looking face to be revealed. And for a few very strange seconds her head sprouts from the long neck of a black swan. (Andy Warhol, meet Darren Aronofsky.)

As these contrasting images flash back and forth, I don't think it's a huge stretch to suggest that she's trying to make a statement about what's necessary to keep that titular applause coming. Namely, taking your clothes off as well as using makeup to transform you into whoever (whatever) your audience wants you to be—never mind if it's not really you.

Then again, Lady Gaga's identity has been almost infinitely malleable from the very beginning of her career. And if it takes taking your clothes off to court and sustain that much-needed applause, it's a trade-off Lady Gaga seems to have no problem making.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

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!