Spring Break from Disney

Dr. James Emery White | Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary | Thursday, March 14, 2013

Spring Break from Disney

Okay, let’s get the salacious stuff out of the way first. 

Former Disney star Ashley Benson is busy promoting a racy R-rated film, “Spring Breakers,” which features (among other things) a threesome scene.

The movie is rated R for strong sexual content, language, nudity, drug use and violence. It is being marketed as a “bacchanalia of bikinis, beach parties and beer bongs.”

Okay, been there, done that. 

Such movies are annual offerings.

Here’s what isn’t: promotion via a cover story in Seventeen Magazine, a magazine which has openly shared that they target girls as young as 12.



Promoting a sex-romp featuring a threesome scene for twelve-year-old girls?

As Los Angeles-based therapist Nancy Irwin noted, there’s nothing acceptable about “hyping a soft-core porn movie to minors.”

But it’s even more insidious than that.

Benson is joined by two other Disney protégés, known for their legions of young, impressionable fans, all in pursuit of shedding their “good-girl” images. 

Benson responded by saying of her and her co-actors Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez,

“We all came from a Disney background, and this was different from anything we’ve done. But we wanted to prove that we’re not just girls who play happy parts. It was a crazy experience and it was character-building. I’m so proud of all of us. I’m really, really excited for everybody to see it.”

[I won’t speculate on which aspect of character Ms. Benson felt was “built.”]

Adds Gomez,

“I’ve never been part of a movie I would watch over and over again, and I’m really proud of it.”

I’m not sure which scene she feels bears the most repeat viewing… perhaps when Ms. Hudgens character, Candy, holds a loaded gun while the character played by James Franco simulates fellatio on it?

No doubt her pre-pubescent fans from Disney’s “Wizards of Waverly Place,” responsible for her more than 40 million Facebook “likes,” will decide for themselves. 

(Even Gomez seemed surprised at how many “Wizards” fans turned out for the movie’s screening at the Toronto International Film Festival. Really?)

Egregious as this may seem, it gets worse. 

Here’s the kicker from “pop culture expert” Jenn Hoffman:

“Threesomes are becoming as American as apple pie to mainstream youth. Seventeen is a publication that takes their editorial cues from market research about what is interesting to teens. Hearst (the publisher) is not to blame. They are merely forcing us to take an honest look at our youth culture and what they want to buy.”

God help us.

Writing in The New York Times, Jon Caramanica notes that “'Spring Breakers' may go down as… an archetype for our times.”


And here is its theme verse, courtesy of a prophet named Jeremiah, who said of the people of his day:

“Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? 

          No, they have no shame at all;  

          they do not even know how to blush.” (Jeremiah 6:15, NIV)

That pretty much covers it.

James Emery White



“Ashley Benson promotes racy R-rated film with threesome scene in Seventeen Magazine” by Hollie McKay, published March 07, 2013, FoxNews.com, read online.

“Disney Stars Throw Off Their Past in ‘Spring Breakers’,” Brooks Barnes, March 8, 2013, The New York Times, read online.

“Gosh, We’re Bad Now!”, Jon Caramanica, The New York Times, Sunday, March 10, 2013, read online.

Editor’s Note

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, N.C., and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His newly released book is The Church in an Age of Crisis: 25 New Realities Facing Christianity (Baker Press). To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log on to www.churchandculture.org, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

Spring Break from Disney