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.

Album Review

Here's the short list of things you need to know about Canadian singer Shawn Mendes.

1) He's 16.
2) He plays guitar.
3) He launched his career with six-second covers tunes on Vine.
4) He can't avoid inevitable comparisons to Justin Bieber.
5) He can't avoid love songs, either. Or break-up songs.
6) He loves to sing about innocent teen twitterpation …

… except when he's crooning about things that aren't quite so chaste.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

"Never Be Alone" looks forward to a day when Mendes' fast-paced life slows down enough for him to make a lasting commitment ("I promise that one day I'll be around/I'll keep you safe/I'll keep you sound"). "Strings" hopes a lifelong friendship ("Met this girl when I was 3 or so") may eventually turn matrimonial ("When the time is right, maybe I'll propose/ … Darling, I want all the strings attached"). Later, he empathizes, "And, baby, when you fall down, I fall too/And if you get lost, then I'll get lost with you/And when the waves crash down/Then, baby, I won't move." Similarly, "This Is What It Takes" commits to making a relationship work, even in hard times. And on "Crazy," Mendes realizes he's been exactly that for stringing along a girl he couldn't decide whether he wanted to be with or not.

"Something Big" describes the sense of anticipation that comes when you're on the brink of achieving something you've worked hard for. "A Little Too Much" tells the story of a quietly struggling young woman ("Though everyone said that she was strong/What they didn't know is that she could barely carry on") who's determined to persevere ("But she knew that she would be OK/So she didn't let it get in her way").

"I Don't Even Know Your Name" tells a would-be flame, "And you don't have to do anything else/But be yourself." "Life of the Party" encourages someone to not worry about what others think ("So when it gets hard, don't be afraid"). But …

Objectionable Content

… the bulk of the song couches courage to be yourself in defiant terms ("We don't care what them people say/I love it when you don't take no/I love it when you do what you want just 'cause you said so/ … 'Cause we don't have the time to be sorry"). And these lyrics, "We don't have to be ordinary/Make your best mistakes/ … Come out tonight, come out tonight/ … I'm telling you to take your shot, it might be scary/Hearts are gonna break," are being interpreted as an affirmation of embracing sexual desires or proclivities, whatever they may be.

Several songs allude to sexual intimacy. "Aftertaste" includes these provocative lines: "Try to forget me, but I'm everywhere/I'm the smell on your sheets/You weren't ready when you left me there." "Kids in Love" suggests a supervision-free rendezvous that's going to get steamy: "Said, your place is kinda close/And your 'rents are out of town/ … If you're feeling kinda crazy/Turn down the lights/We can take our time/Do whatever you like/It's alright, it's alright/I wanna make you mine." On "Stitches," Mendes says of someone who's dumped him, "Now that I'm without your kisses/I'll be needing stitches/ … But I know that I'll make it out alive/If I quit calling you my lover." Lyrics then hyperbolically lament, "Gotta get you out of my head/ … Gonna wind up dead."

"Crazy" confesses, "All of this is getting really old/I'm having trouble sleeping on my own." And speaking of sleeping, "This Is What It Takes" describes a guy watching his girl sleep, implying that they're in pretty intimate proximity ("I watch your troubled eyes as you rest/And I fall in love with every breath").

"Something Big" mentions gambling ("Play the Lotto, you might win it"). It also pushes what would be an affirming message about change ("Take this spark/And start a fire/Raise this up/We're feeling high") into more rebellious territory ("They can't tell us anything/'Cause something big is happening").

Summary Advisory

Ah, the tried and true template for a teen idol! It requires a modicum of talent and dashing good looks, which are then paired with boy-or-girl-next-door appeal and confessional, sentimental, whisper-promises-in-your-ear lyrics. In some ways, very little has changed since the emergence of this musical mode in the late 1950s and early '60s.

Yet some important elements of this formula have changed. Namely, the assumptions about what constitutes normal behavior for teens in general. In the case of Handwritten, the kind of aww-shucks puppy love that's always been a staple of this genre is now fused with jarringly mature images, ideas and suggestions about sex, like when Mendes taunts an ex by saying, "I'm the smell on your sheets." Try to imagine David Cassidy or Debbie Gibson belting out that zinger.

The message in these moments—from a 16-year-old to throngs of teens and tweens—is that sleeping with your boyfriend or girlfriend is absolutely normal behavior, the consequences of which is nothing more than some dirty laundry.

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Genre

Pop

Author

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Debuted at No. 1.

Record Label

Island

Platform

Publisher

Released

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Adam R. Holz

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!