The American Idiot Tour: Fun for the Whole Family

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : September 17, 2005

Last night, my friend Chet invited me to the Green Day concert.  He got two free tickets from work, and invited me along.  It was an odd experience.

I’m not a big fan of Green Day, but "back in the day" they were the music of teenage rebellion.  When I was in high school, bands like Green Day and Nirvana weren’t listened to very much by little kids or adults.  But times have changed.Greenday_3

By all appearances, Green Day puts on a family show now.  There were moms and dads, teenagers, and hundreds of little kids–from the age of 7 to 11.  They all had on their American Idiot t-shirts and hats.  Thousands of clean-cut families piled into the Xcel Energy center to see Green Day put on their show.

And the show was what you’d expect from Green Day: lots of f-bombs, sexual inuendos, political rhetoric, etc.  Their opening comments for "Holiday" was…"This next song is a big F@#% YOU to George W. Bush!"

All of this didn’t offend me much.  But the whole time I was hearing this "subversive" message–this type of music that used to cause division in wholesome American families–I couldn’t help but notice the myriad of pre-teens "rocking out" to the music.

The days of American counter-culture are dead.  When raw language, political subversiveness, pseudo masturbation, and other rock-band tomfoolery can be packaged, shipped out, and whole-heartedly embraced by upwardly mobile, whitebread, upper-middle class families, it gives me pause.  It makes me wonder if anything can shock us any more. 

Yet there is still a niche for Christian subversiveness.  While Billie spouts hate-filled words about red-necks and republicans…and while red-necks and republicans spout hate-filled words about liberals, Christians are called to love their neighbors and enemies.  Christianity is subversive in completely different ways than other movements.  Usually subversiveness is fueled by hate and anger.  These aren’t supposed to motivate Christians…at least not in the way they fuel other subversive movements.  We should be motivated by compassion and love and hope, and faith, etc.

I know many Christians that link their identity as Jesus-follower-subverives with some cultural brand of being subversive…like people who are punks and Christian that think that suburbanites are their spiritual enemy.  Or convservative Christians who think that liberals are their spiritual enemies…etc.  Let’s let Jesus decide what ought to make us distinct, rather than aligning ourselves to other movements that appeal to us. 

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5 Responses to “The American Idiot Tour: Fun for the Whole Family”

  1. pat k on September 17th, 2005 9:21 pm

    Gosh, Mark. This is the best post I’ve read on any blog in a while.

  2. Frogtown Pastor on September 17th, 2005 9:28 pm

    Mark VanS Goes to Green Day

    Pastors need to go to more rock concerts. Period. We just seem to get inspired. Which is to say, you’ve got to read Mark VanS’ thoughts after the Green Day concert.

    This is the best blog post I’ve read in a while….

  3. Surly Dave on September 18th, 2005 9:41 pm

    I can’t go to these type of things with out getting totally worked up. However, I agree with you that Christianity, or rather, the Church, has lost it ‘edge’, as in, we aren’t edgy, we don’t impact society, and we don’t set the course of culture. Instead, we get caught up in the flow of where society is going, usually down, and try to ‘redeem’ it or do damage control.

    When I say “edgy”, I don’t mean artificially hip, slick, and cool. I mean if we really believed what we preached, really lived it, that would be edgy.

  4. Joseph Dworak on September 19th, 2005 12:37 pm

    Mark - I remember when Green Day was an underground band and would never sell out to a major label, guess they blew that one. Not that I blame them, but in their hometown (Berkley) they are widely made fun of. So, I love the fact that the sell-outs are the anti-establishment, when they are really just a creation of another establishment. Aren’t we having lunch soon? Email me and we will set it up. JVD

  5. Laura on September 20th, 2005 12:25 pm

    Actually, they created their own label owned by Billie Joe and his wife.

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