Ridiculous Web site of the month
ChristianMusicMakeover.com! It looks like something you'd find on Lark News or the Holy Observer, but it's real.
I'm not the first blogger to comment on this. You can read James Stewart's thoughts about it here, including a couple of episodes where he puts on the gloves and goes head to head with Brian Mayes, the creator of the site in question.
So what can I say about it? A few years ago I bought something from True Tunes and received some freebies with my order, including It's a Mystery, the debut CD by a young band called Daniel's Window. I gave it a listen and didn't care for it, so I sold it on eBay, or traded it to someone (I forget which). Now I'm surprised to find that the band not only is still around but was selected for the honor of a "Christian music makeover": cosmetics and guitar lessons for the female lead singer; weight loss for aforementioned lead singer and her keyboardist/DJ husband; new Bibles, devotional guides, and guitars for the whole band; and a new CD produced by Billy Smiley of longtime CCM band White Bread—excuse me, White Heart.
It was the idea of a "spiritual makeover" that most upset James Stewart—and I agree that it smacks of a cookie-cutter approach to spiritual development which sounds naive at best and dangerous at worst. But I'm also disturbed by the overt commercialism of the Christian Music Makeover site ... it's obviously set up to drive visitors toward the various books, weight-loss plans, magazines, record labels, etc., involved in the makeover. Whatever messages the band might want to get across with their music are buried under all the merchandising. Must one become a huckster for Jenny Craig in order to succeed in the Christian music business?
In particular, though, I'd like to draw your attention to a part of the affair that's every bit as disturbing as the spiritual makeover or Jenny Craig. I'm talking about the guitars, man. Despite having only one female band member, as a part of this promotion Daniel's Window evidently was required to play and endorse...
Daisy Rock Girl Guitars!
I don't know about you, but I'd die of embarrassment and I think most self-respecting male musicians would do the same. You might say I'm being sexist—which is OK as long as you'll admit that I'm no more sexist than people who build and market guitars specifically for girls, especially if they're shaped like butterflies or hot pink flowers.
Artists don't always relish their symbiotic relationship with advertisers. Rod Serling of "The Twilight Zone" said, "It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper." Alfred Hitchcock used to introduce commercial breaks by making derogatory remarks about the sponsors of his TV show. But if the members of Daniel's Window have any qualms about being used as a sales tool, they're keeping those qualms to themselves.
Several of my friends and acquaintances are calling for the "Christian music industry" to dismantle itself. They argue that Christians who perform music should strive to be salt in the mainstream of musical culture, rather than perpetuating a derivative evangelical subculture that never reaches beyond its self-imposed borders.
I don't know that I completely agree with them. I'd rather be a reformer than an iconoclast. I'd like to think that there could be an evangelical subculture (or, perhaps, a counterculture) that actually serves a useful purpose. But it's hard to maintain that point of view in the face of a God-and-mammon merchandise-driven reality-TV ripoff like the Christian Music Makeover. If this is the future of Christian music, can you blame me for living in the past?