When I was growing up, many if not most of the older Christians I knew were deeply suspicious of both dancing and pop-rock music. Like the overwrought preacher from Footloose, they were certain that both of those worldly activities led to just one thing: sex.
I wasn't convinced that the connection was always so absolute. I'm still not. But I'm old enough and wise enough now to realize that sometimes it is.
Take the latest song and video from Jennifer Lopez, whom Forbes magazine declared the "most powerful celebrity" of 2012 (edging out the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg). JLo's third collaboration with Pitbull offers an undulating pop ode to the joys of … sex. Dancing may be this track's ostensible subject matter, but for Lopez and Pitbull, it's quite clear that music and dancing are the prelude and postlude to intimate encounters.
Pitbull is a bit coy on the subject at first. "Dance, yes/Love, next" he begins, followed by the admission, "I'm a dirty ol' dog all day/Your girl only go one way, ay mi madre."
Lopez, in contrast, is about as direct as she could possibly be: "Why should I hide/That I love to make love to you, baby/ … So many ways wanna touch you tonight/I'm a big girl, got no secrets this time/Yeah, I love to make love to you, baby." A few lines later we hear the repeated refrain, "I wanna dance, and love, and dance again."
More sexual fireworks follow as JLo sings, "Baby, your fire is lighting me up," and Pitbull leers, "Modern day Hugh Hef/Playboy to the death/ … Mami, let me open your treasure chest."
The video only adds steam to that crass carnality. In an Inception-esque sequence, Lopez walks into a mansion where the vodka flows up … to a ceiling where a crowd of lingerie-clad women and bare-chested men are writhing in an orgy above her. A moment later, she falls up, joining the risqué grope-fest herself.
The 42-year-old singer then finds a partner (real-life beau Casper Smart), and commences a round or three of suggestive fondling, caressing, bottom-grabbing, blindfolding and pole dancing. The stylized make-out session ends with Lopez happily tying her man's hands together.
Dan Gainor of the Culture and Media Institute said of the racy proceedings, "Jennifer Lopez's skanky new video shows how desperate she is to retain her fame despite her fading relevance." But if Forbes' celebrity power list is any indication, it's a "desperate" gambit that seems, sadly, to be paying off.
And if that doesn't illustrate that those more mature, wiser Christians were right to be suspicious of the carnal confections pop music can serve up, I don't know what would.