Dear, @PiersMorgan, It’s Okay to Have an Opinion

piers-morgan-So I saw that Piers Morgan is causing quite a stir. He wrote an article criticizing Beyoncé’s outspoken activism on racial issues – a move that is relatively recent in her career. Morgan writes:

Beyoncé then was unrecognisable from the militant activist we see now. Then, she was at pains to be seen as an entertainer and musician and not as a black woman who sings. Now, it seems to be the complete opposite.

The new Beyoncé wants to be seen as a black woman political activist first and foremost, entertainer and musician second. I still think she’s a wonderful singer and performer, and some of the music on Lemonade is fantastic.

But I have to be honest, I preferred the old Beyoncé. The less inflammatory, agitating one. The one who didn’t use grieving mothers to shift records and further fill her already massively enriched purse. The one who didn’t play the race card so deliberately and to my mind, unnecessarily. The one who wanted to be judged on her stupendous talent not her skin color, and wanted us all to do the same

Morgan’s criticism has drawn heavy fire from Beyoncé supporters. Her fans have taken to social media to blast Morgan. I’ve read Facebook comments like:

“You are a middle aged, British white man, you have no idea, i repeat, NO. IDEA. What it is like to be a Black Woman….”

Or,

If I ever hear a White Man speak on the struggle of the Black Woman again, the only sympathy he will get is from the devil himself!

Even Esquire jumped in the fray with:

Piers Morgan’s take on Beyoncé’s ‪#‎Lemonade‬ might just be the dumbest.

Sometimes I feel as though the world has lost its ever-lovin’ mind. Not that Piers Morgan ever reads my articles, but I felt the need to be like every other blogger in the world and give my two-cents on the issue (even though you haven’t asked me).

To those blasting Mr. Morgan – ease up, dudes! Everyone is entitled to an opinion, especially when it comes to arts and entertainment. Morgan was not criticizing #BlackLivesMatter. He was not denigrating those who advocate for social justice. He wasn’t making any politically charged comments about racism. He was talking about entertainment, which is a HIGHLY subjective thing.

For example, I saw a friend of mine post a comment on Facebook about her favorite Marilyn Manson song. How anyone can listen to that is beyond me – I find it to be rubbish. But there are many people (my wife included) who laugh at me and mock me when I break into song EVERY time I hear Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name.”

Bon JoviSeriously, how can you NOT go into instant karaoke mode when classic Bon Jovi comes on the radio?!? But I digress.

The Bon Jovi part is actually a segue into my next point – sometimes it is difficult for fans to get behind an artist’s evolution. As Bon Jovi left that awesome 80’s hair-band style and moved into a mainstream pop-rock, a lot of us were disappointed. I’ll always be a fan, but it’s just not the same as it was. Or look at the evolution of U2. As artists, they have done things to evolve and stretch. It hasn’t always worked (1997’s Pop, anyone?). Some U2 albums I absolutely loathe.

But all art is subjective, and those of us who consume it are allowed to have our own tastes and preferences. If Mr. Morgan prefers Beyoncé the way she was, that’s his prerogative. Scale back the hatred. He still admits she’s terrific – he merely prefers her before she involved into the heavy activism. It’s not racism nor is it white privilege to say, “I just liked listening to her music – I don’t want to be preached at.”

Now to those who prefer Beyoncé as she was and don’t like new activist-Beyoncé, you need to understand that artists DO evolve. We all do. No matter who we are today, we will be different people in 5 years. Our likes and dislikes can shift (although I will NEVER like peas). Our passions can shift. It is not so unreasonable to see that Beyoncé has a (relatively) newfound passion for social and racial activism.

The Bible has some incredible examples of people evolving – of genuine character development. God does incredible things with us, taking us from who we were and creating something new. Look at Moses, a murderer with a speech impediment who was on the lam from Egyptian authorities. God helped him evolve and sent Moses BACK to Egypt. I’m pretty sure Pharaoh wasn’t thrilled with Moses’ evolution.

Or how about Peter and John? They evolved from simple fishermen – uneducated and common men – into passionate preachers of the Gospel of Jesus. It astonished the religious leaders, and I’m pretty sure they weren’t thrilled with Peter and John’s evolution.

There are many biblical examples of this kind of phenomenon. And thank God, because it means we don’t have to be stuck in our same ruts year after year. God can do something new with us. God IS doing something new with us.

Just understand that other people might not like or accept your evolution. And that’s okay.
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Sound off! What do you think? What musician/band do you love that you have seen evolve? Did you like the evolution or hate it?

Movie Review: Zootopia is Really a Race Relations Morality Story in Disguise!

Like most Americans alive today, I had seen the trailer for Disney’s Zootopia. If you live in a cave and HAVEN’T yet seen it, here it is:

So it was with great anticipation that my wife and I took our three kids, ages 9, 6, and 4, to go see it. And it was NOT was I was expecting.

Sure, it had the funny scene from the trailer. Who hasn’t been stuck in a DMV line and thought about the incredible slowness with which the employees move?!?

But Zootopia is much more than some funny scenes strung together. It was actually a VERY well-done story that tackles some tough issues in a way that is accessible to children and adults alike.

Character_zootopia_judyThe basic premise of the movie is that a cute and lovable rabbit named Judy Hopps moves to the big city of Zootopia to become a police officer. She has big dreams for making the world a better place and sees Zootopia as a wonderful place where animals have moved beyond their preditor/prey natures and live together in harmony. If you’re not a literary sort of person, there is a loose reference to Thomas More’s Utopia, which is about a perfect society but whose name literally means “no place.”

Anyway, while there she runs into a fox who is cleverly named Nick (nick being an American slang term for cheating or taking something from someone – just ask Dora) who tells her that the world isn’t great and that they don’t all hold hands and sing Kumbayah.

I won’t give out any spoilers, but Officer Hopps and Nick go on an adventure trying to solve a case that shows the true nature of reality – that underneath a smooth exterior of love and acceptance, deep down at the core there is real friction between different groups. This is where the story really shines as an example of American culture.

On the surface we like to pretend that our society has evolved beyond some of the old racist attitudes and expressions that used to be so commonplace. I’ve even heard some (white) people say, “Of course there’s no racism any more – we have a black president.” This sentiment is really quite stupid and naive. Like the cute bunny, we’re often blind to the reality that there is raw friction between groups and the fact that racism is still prevalent in our world.

Case in point: racial tensions in America. Just yesterday at a political rally, violence broke out as minorities demonstrating against a political candidate squared off against the candidate’s supporters. Then the candidate publicly proclaimed many of the protesters to be “thugs.”

I confess that I don’t know the background of all of the protesters, but labeling them as “thugs” seems to be an easy way now for white people to dismiss people of color with whom they disagree. An angry black man isn’t necessarily a thug – he could just be an angry black man.

This is part of what Zootopia addresses. When we expect others to be bad (and label them thus), we end up being small-minded jerks and do damage to others. This is where the teaching of Jesus practically screams at us:

Treat others the way you want them to treat you!

It seems so simple, yet we’re so far away from living in a culture that can actually do this. Instead we yell, scream, and throw punches at each other. By the end of the movie, Officer Judy Hopps tells the audience:

Life’s a little bit messy. We all make mistakes. No matter what type of animal you are, change starts with you.

The Bible actually talks about equality. About fairness. About one-ness. And we do damage to the faith we claim to hold to when refuse to make the kind of change that brings the world to see all of us through the same lens. We can’t hide behind out politics and our family upbringing. There is no excuse for treating anyone poorly, no matter who or what they are or believe.

It’s time for those of us who claim to follow Christ to leave the garbage behind and make moves towards love, peace, and reconciliation among ALL people.