Unfriend You by Greyson Chance
Over the last year or so, Greyson Chance has been positioning himself as the younger, cuter, and newer version of Justin Bieber. At 14, he’s a Youtube sensation and has his own album out. Unfriend You is his latest single. It’s your stock standard song about teenage heartbreak clothed in enough modern day lingo that it appears fresh and speaks to a new generation. And while there is nothing remarkable in the lyrics or the film clip, it’s the marketing of Chance and the part he plays in current trends that has me concerned.
Boy meets girl. Girl dumps boy. Girl starts publicly dating another boy. Original boy gathers up the courage to move on with his life. Like I said, nothing new here. Using the idea of “unfriending”, a concept that was practically non-existent five years ago, gives the song that modern spin. But outside of that, this is a song that tells a story that’s been around since the invention of dating. Aside from the gratuitous use of lens flares in the clip (the director of the clip is way too in love with lens flares) there’s nothing remarkable here.
What is noteworthy is how Greyson Chance is being marketed. The obvious target market here is pre-teen girls. Chance is presented as the safe, wholesome, romantic young man of their dreams. He’s the kind of boyfriend these young girls are told is their ideal. He’ll talk to you, be charming on the piano, and look at you with those soulful big eyes that says he’d like nothing more than to hold your hand listen to you talk for hours. My problem is not with young Greyson. He’s obviously a talented young man. And while the marketing surrounding him may be a) setting up an ideal that is difficult for any young man to reach and b) pushing girls into romantic relationships younger than they’re ready for, my biggest fear is how this marketing clashes with what is being sold to the boys.
The message being sold to girls is that this is what relationships are all about. Cute boys who are thoughtful and considerate. Who long for commitment and romance. Boys who only want a girl who is faithful to them and in return they will be faithful back. Boys who are above all, safe and non-threatening. The message here is that boys will provide you everything you ever wanted – security, comfort, companionship – as long as you treat them well.
Contrast this with the message being sent to boys in media directed at them. Relationships are about sex. Find the hottest girl you can. Do what ever you can – lie, deceive, trick – to convince them to be with you. Use them for sex. Then move onto the next conquest. Boys are not being sold the same message. They are not receiving a message of long term relationships and faithfulness. They are not being sent a message of care and tenderness. The message being sent is that girls are to be used and then move on once you’ve got what you want.
What is being pitched to the boys is wrong. What is being pitched to the girls, while not always helpful, is at least workable. But when you combine these two messages, the results are disastrous. Girls – do what ever it takes to keep this charming, cute boy as your boyfriend. Boys – so whatever it takes to convince this girl that you are cute and charming so you can have sex with her and then move onto the next girl. Girls are the losers here. Girls are being sold an ideal that not only sets the bar too high but simultaneously enables boys to take advantage of them. And yes, I am deliberately using boys and girls instead of men and women. Because not only is this the message being sold to people too young to know better, but it results in behaviours that have no place amongst mature adults. It doesn’t matter if you’re 15 or 35, females should not be treated this way.
Boys (and men): “[Treat] younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” (1 Timothy 5:2) Ignore the message of this world. We are to treat girls and women not as objects for our sexual gratification, but as sisters. Be caring and compassionate. Be humble and tender. Be a man who honours women and looks after them. Treat their hearts with precious care. This is your task.
Girls (and women): Don’t buy into the lie that being in a relationship with a boy (or man) is the most important thing in this world. Respect yourself and expect no less from anyone who wants to date you. Remember that your value comes not in earthly relationships but in your relationship with God. If he’s not willing to honour you and honour God at the same time, have nothing to do with him. Move on and unfriend him.
There are many lies sold to the young people of this world. We need to be aware of what’s on the table. Our true value comes not from the relationships that this world markets to us, but from our relationship with God. We are valued enough by God that he has chosen us and welcomed us into his family. “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:11-12) Above all, this is the message we need to hear.