when the mocker becomes the mocked

so, there was this cheerleading competition going on all weekend at the st. louis convention center. and all of us at the national youth workers convention had to walk through their midst over and over again: swarms of tiny girls in little matching outfits, with horribly too much make-up and embodying pretty much the worst of america. i kept thinking my youth worker’s heart should be going out to them. instead, i was merely repulsed, and wanted to smack their mothers.

so we mocked.

tic and i — thanks to some convention volunteers who made the effort to “outfit” us and “do our hair” and such — felt compelled to mock, which resulted in this:

sorry. i hope i haven’t scarred you forever.

i should tell you, i almost knocked tic off the stage with that belly-bump.

40 thoughts on “when the mocker becomes the mocked”

  1. Marko,
    That “mock skit” was the highlight of my convention…I was actually filling out my Evaluation sheet when you guys hit the stage and included the skit as a “must have back” momement in my eval…Just wanted to say thanks to you guys for all you do at NYWC to pour into the lives of student pastors like myself…My wife and I leave encouraged, challenged, renewed, and refreshed every year…Thank you. And one ?…Can you give us an update/total on the offering we took up for Global Youth Ministries today? Did we make the 8k?

  2. All weekend I struggled to get seats up close, we always seemed to be running late. We managed to get seats really close for that session. I will never be able to see Tic the same way again, you weren’t quite as frightening.

  3. I almost fell over I was laughing so hard during this skit! I also felt so sad when walking through the legions of young girls with their mid-riffs exposed and scary blue eye shadow! Thanks for a really great convention!

  4. “i kept thinking my youth worker’s heart should be going out to them. instead, i was merely repulsed, and wanted to smack their mothers.”

    At least you’re honest…

    I feel bad for those impressionable young girls. Granted, they’re in this place now where they were pushed into this whether they wanted to get into it because of what society’s shown them or by what their parents want or their friends tell them they should want. But now, not only are they in this place where they believe that their value is tied to their ability to attract an audience and entertain which is what cheerleading comes down to, ignore the over application of makeup (I used to dance and I always had way too much makeup on, but it was a necessity, on stage, you look like a ghost otherwise. I have footage to show that.) I just wonder if any cheerleaders heard about this or perhaps the look in everyone’s face who walked through their convention was enough. I remember growing up at the edge of an affluent neighborhood. I was in junior high and feeling insecure like many adolescents were, but then I went to church camp and was told by all the other “Christians” around me, that everyone who attended that school were stuck up snobs. I had the sense to ask if anyone knew any of those students and they said no. So they were quite judgmental. I didn’t become a Christian until many years later when I realized than Christianity is more than how other Christians behave but a relationship with Christ. I would’ve asked about having a relationship with Christ, but I didn’t want to ask because I thought they (the Christians) were too judgmental. Perhaps youth leaders could better serve the youth by trying to find out more about cheerleading instead of mocking it. And no, I was never a cheerleader.

  5. I’ve heard there will be a cheerleading competition the same time of the YS convention in the same building. Wear red and black for good ol UGA though. ;)

  6. Drained and overflowing from the provocative grind that is YS Convention, we left after the Mon. morning seminars for our 5 hr. drive home. settling on buying your talk post-conference, after 2 hrs. of Mayer, Harper and a bunch of indie stuff, we listened to campolo’s super seminar, hoping to squeezee just a bit more juice from the orange – wow, that orange had a lot of juice.

    home tody and looking for one more fix, i checked out your blog and found that we missed one of the ‘highlights’ of the conference – and I’m glad we left early.

    Here’s why . .

    I was in a continual conversation with many compatriots all weekend about the paradox that was the convention center this weekend. Aside from the makeup/midriff/mom presentation, I saw young girls in the halls crushed by defeat; moms looking like they dreamed to find again some elusive youth . . something that had slipped through their fingers years ago; and a movement based on perfection – of performance and presentation.

    I also encountered these two things:
    No. 1, an image in the hall, one afternoon, of a young mother and her 3 children, one in a stroller and the obviously part of the cheerleading event. If there was any way you could imagine a healthy approach to it – this mother seemed to have somehow grasped it. But this mother also seemed strangely out of place and alone, a bit unsure of all that she had gotten her family into.

    No. 2 – I had stopped at a table near the convention headquarters to chat with some nun friends also attending YS. Our conversation quickly referenced the cheerleaders and the state of our society and families
    and then God stepped in,
    bringing 3 young cheerleaders over to us . .
    “um . . are you a num?” no typo
    “Yes,” sr. answered. “what is your name?”
    Kaily and Allyssia, began their questioning as they twirled little umbrella toothpicks.
    “do you live in a church?”
    “do you have your own room?”
    “do you have other outfits?”
    “what colors are they?”
    “do any nums where pink?”

    I intuitively knew that not only was this an estrogen conversation, but that I was witnessing a moment of tangible presence with the Spirit – one of those “well if your gonna just sit there and talk about them, I will bring them so you can talk with them.”

    Kailey had been cheering since age 3 – she is now 12 – her mom got her into it. They stood there talking with a “num” for almost 10 minutes, pausing between each question, listening, exploring, discovering and then questioning again. Sr. Consellata was amazing and her grace was palpable. I can’t help but think these young girls left provoked with something planted deep.

    only at a YS convention.

    now, to thread this all . . although incredibly funny, I know now that my decision to leave early, was . . inspired?? Had I stayed, I undoubtedly would have laughed, possibly even barfed in my mouth, because that is some funny youth ministry video. But given the context, I also would have left soured by my laughter and the idea that 5 days of seeking this Jesus I so desire to imitate, had left me still laughing at the lost.

    good, funny, Youth Ministry stuff, Marko – wrong context

  7. And I thought that I was nuts……….
    Mark you got guts! God loves crazy folks, and you’re one of them.
    God bless you and your friends and family.

  8. wow, kris – that was a long, gorgeous story, beautifully told, that pulled me in the whole way just to find out in the last two words that it was a criticism!

  9. My last NYWC (as a convention goer – not a volunteer) was at St. Louis in 2003… I remember that cheerleading thing then.

    I just watched this video (without sound even!) and laughed my butt off! I SO MISS NYWC!

    Thanks Marko!

  10. I have to say, the outpouring of people who don’t see what was wrong with this display of mockery confirms so much for me. And it makes me realize why it’s so hard for teenagers these days. There are enough self-esteem issues brought up due to peers; they don’t need adults who they should be respecting teaching them that it’s okay to make fun of people especially in front of those people. Granted they may have been in another area, but they were still in the building and that didn’t stop any of them from knowing what was going on. Besides, who’s to say some of them didn’t stop by to see what was going on. Now what are they going to think, I know God loves me but His people, Christians, are making fun of me.

  11. Hmm…. I’m sure most people thought your mockery of objectified young girls and their families was absolutely hillarious. I’m kind of mortified by it. I have to admit that most of the time I was at the conference I was inwardly making fun of some of the cheerleading moms, the kids, and the society we live in that makes things like that acceptable. And then I realized …. me being judgmental does absolutely nothing to bring Christ to these families. I’m sure some of those mothers and their children are believers. I’m sure many of them also scorn the mocking of Christians who – from their perspective – are merely hypocrites who like to look down their noses at “poor sinners.”

    As youth workers we should be analyzing everything we do. Did the mocking of cheerleaders do ANYTHING positive other than a few laughs? No. It only promoted the dehumanization and marginalization of people God loves. We should be building up people’s dignity. Not tearing it down.

  12. Dear Marco the Mocker–Your skit was indeed very funny. However, it was very cruel. Your justification for doing the skit revealed that your true intent was not just to get a laugh but to cause pain. This intent to hurt is evident by the title of your blog entry-“when the mocker becomes the mocked”. You were “repulsed” by people who were different from you so you “mocked”. You youself by your own admission became a “mocker”. Should someone now mock you? Your “humor” was at the expense of people who you believe are different than you. You think you are better than they are. So, as you wrote in your blog, “we mocked” No where does the Jesus you follow call us to mock others. He tells us to love those cheerleaders-His precious children.He tells us to love the parents of those chidren. He certainly did not want a group of Christian youth workers supposedly dedicated to his children to mock them. However, given most of the comments, it seems mocking little cheerleaders was a hit-for some the highlight of the convention. Next year you can work with the Skit Guys to do skits making fun of fat people or skinny people or people of color or divorced people. The world is full of people who are different from you that you can mock. I’m a 50 year old short skinny lawyer so I will be easy target to make fun of. Jesus loves humor -but not “humor” that mocks and dehumanizes his children. As one of Old Testament Judges once said–Pick on some one your own size.Please do not repeat the skit in Atlanta. Instead, find one of God’s children who “repulses” you, sit down with him or her, and have a conversation about Jesus.

  13. Ah, the exalted ruler of YS reigns down his judgment and mockery upon the very youth he claims to serve. The sweet poetry. The Angel of Light must be proud.

  14. On Sunday morning, I would have laughed uncontrollably. I too found myself repulsed at what was going on, and wanted to smack their mothers. Then I went to the seminar with chap clark “Deep Justice in a Broken World” and he said something profoundly challenging. He shared his observations from the cheerleading competition, and shared how he was more interested in watching “us” the “youth workers” and our obvious disgust with what was happening. and then conviction fell on me as he said this “A systemic response to injustice is not dejecting the mothers of cheerleaders for what they are doing, a systemic response does not hurt people. A systemic response addresses the root issues.
    As I watched you guys make fun of the cheerleaders I couldnt help but think about the exchange between the “nums” and cheerleaders that was described and I witnessed, and think about the possibility that some of the cheerleaders may have stumbled into this conference, looking for Jesus and only finding mockery. As much as you might tell us to lighten up, my response is that you should attend some of the seminars at your conventions, they caused my views to transform into being a little more like Jesus’ maybe they could do the same for you.

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