(Photo: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson)
Katy Perry’s California Dreams Tour, now crossing America, is attracting millions of teenagers with the kid-themed bright colors, spinning peppermint forest, and wide-eyed kewpie-doll smiles that some parents and religious leaders believe is sending the message to young people that raunchy adult-themed sexual behavior is “not so bad.”
Parents want to actively guide their children’s lives, but it is hard to do in a way that doesn’t seem distrustful or interfering.
In a word, it’s all about communication.
Let’s face it, hot music tours are popular for any young person with the extravaganza of lights, noise, crowds, and music heroes hitting the stage with a top-ten song.
Put that together with Katy Perry’s sugar-laced visual tour, with lots of candy canes, cupcakes, and other sweet treats, it is an ode to a wild childhood fantasy.
Perry’s tour hits Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana next week with a mish-mash mix of references to Alice in Wonderland, the Wizard of Oz, and other popularly innocent fairy tales.
During the show, Perry sings her hits while visiting these “unicorn-loving hot spots” while in a candy land searching for her pet cat.
Conservative critics decry the message, wrapped with lots of pink cotton candy, that tells children that they should get drunk, disobey their parents, use pot, dress provocatively, kiss girls, have sex, and try to melt a “boy’s popsicle” as appalling and irresponsible.
Mary Kassian is an author, speaker, and professor of women's studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., who also created the website, GirlsGoneWISE.com. She says Perry is joking about these life issues, dissing parents, and making wrong things feel so right.
She says scores of young audiences are eating it up.
“Perry appears in an endless parade of glittery, precociously sexual 'little girl' outfits that focus attention on her breasts–with spinning peppermint candy plastered on them like targets,” Kassian said.
“Her bras are shaped like cupcakes and Hershey’s Kisses, and even one that projected from the center of her nipples to shoot the audience with whip cream bazookas.”
She says the crowds at Perry’s concerts are largely made up of screaming pre-adolescent and teenagers and their moms.
The youngsters, along with the parents, are also dressing up like Perry sporting blue and pink wigs, cupcake bras, glow sticks, and tight, revealing outfits covered in candy.
“To me, the fluffy, pink, girly, candy-and-fun-wrapped package is just an underhanded way to deflect criticism from the way the show subtly promotes the sexualization and perversion of young girls,” adds Kassian.
“I know that the millions of parents that paid to have their kids take in Perry’s worldwide tour will differ. I know that they’ll say that the negative message is negligible and that the good far outweighs the bad.”
But, it is not harmless fun if our young people let the images resonate in their minds long after the concert is over.
“The overly ‘sweet’ concert is made to mask a message that parents would otherwise find extremely distasteful.”
During and after the concert there is social networking including tweets and Facebook messages about the concert, further spreading the negative messages blurted at the show.
Lindy Keffer, a Christian author from Focus on the Family, says parents need to guide, monitor and sometimes intervene to keep the "cultural wolves a respectable distance from a teenager's door."
“You may have to put out some fires or even an occasional four-alarm blaze,” reads the news article published by Focus on the Family.
Parents who have already "been there, done that" may have difficulty recalling how they felt and thought between the ages of ten and 21.
Experts say physical and hormonal components contribute to this stormy weather in both sexes and adding negative, nasty images to young lives will deliver an adult that is desensitized to life. This, in turn, is why morality in America has hit an all-time low point.
This young age is the time kids may decide that their parents are hopelessly naive, out of touch with reality, or terribly short on intelligence.
"Lifestyle and habits established at this age may continue well into adulthood, and it is never too early to establish a healthy respect for oneself," family experts say.
“The right people crossing their path at critical times can reinforce positive values and enhance the entire process of growing up. The wrong individuals can escort them into extremely negative detours or suck the life out of them."
If it becomes apparent that your teenager is being swayed toward destructive habits and events, however, reasonable measures to keep them separated will be necessary.
If your church has a strong and active youth group, do everything you can to support it and your teen's involvement in it.
Focus on the Family recommends that if your church youth group has gone stale or has become a clique zone, find another one. The program should honor your family's faith and values, of course, but should also accept all comers, build positive identities and be fun as it promotes spiritual growth.
“After all, as the fairy tale makes abundantly clear, you can't get a girl to swallow the poison unless you hide it in a beautiful, sweet apple,” Kassian says.
“Or in this case, a sticky sweet piece of Katy's candy.”
The Christian Post attempted to reach Katy Perry's publicist several times and was unable to receive a comment prior to press time.