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Music Discussions

Hollywood's Not America
01/29/2008

May 18, 2008

Main Point of Discussion: No amount of possessions, success, or pleasure will ever satisfy the ‘hole in the soul’ that exists in every human being.

The Song

"Hollywood's Not America"
is a song by American pop singer/songwriter Ferras and is featured on his debut studio album, Aliens & Rainbows. It was released on January 29, 2008, as the lead single from that album. It is currently in the Top 100 on the Billboard, and has gained incredible popularity since being featured on American Idol.

At THE SOURCE FOR YOUTH MINISTRY we like to use pop culture references to start Biblical conversation (just like the Apostle Paul used culture to start conversations about Jesus in Acts 17). This song might be a good discussion starter in some circles. Use your discernment.

If you want, you can print out the lyrics (below) and give each student a copy to refer to.

Introducing the Song:
Many of you have probably heard the song called ‘Hollywood’s Not America’ by Ferras. Tonight we’re going to take a closer look at the song and the powerful themes that come out of it.

Pass out a handout with the lyrics on it.

Song Lyrics:
    Born Helena Jane
    With a restless soul
    She moved west to California
    Became a center-fold

    But once you change your name
    Well the pieces fall
    Now she hardly recognizes herself at all

    And there’s never any rain, when you want it
    A hollow little game, and you’ve won it
    Looking for a thrill but you’ve done it all

    So long, put your blue jeans back on girl
    Go home
    Remember Hollywood’s not America
    So long put your blue jeans back on girl
    Go home
    Remember Hollywood’s not America
    O yeah!

    And everybody here’s, from somewhere else
    You could make a million dollars, but you might lose yourself
    And you can take the heat will your heart go cold
    They say acting’s just pretending, even that gets old

    And there’s never any rain, when you want it
    A hollow little game, and you’ve won it
    Looking for a thrill but you’ve done it all

    So long, put your blue jeans back on girl
    Go home
    Remember Hollywood’s not America
    So long put your blue jeans back on girl
    Go home
    Remember Hollywood’s not America

    And I know what to do when
    I know that you
    You can be anything you want to be

    So long, put your blue jeans back on girl
    Go home
    Remember Hollywood’s not America
    So long put your blue jeans back on girl
    Go home
    Remember Hollywood’s not America
    Hollywood’s not America
    It’s not America
Transitional Statement:
If you would like to facilitate some large group discussion, talk to your group about why they think this song is so popular and ask them what they think some of the themes are.

Then say something like:
’Hollywood’s Not America’ is a song that has a very clear message about the deception of what many people believe to be the key to happiness and fulfillment. Take a few minutes to read through the lyrics as I play the song and see if you agree- and also what some of the themes are.

Play the song , then Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.

CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.

Discussion Questions:

  1. AROUND THE CIRCLE: Before we begin, let’s go around the circle and talk about what you would do with 10 million dollars? I’ll start…


  2. AROUND THE CIRCLE: What does the way you decided to spend your money say about you?


  3. ASK A FEW: Do you think Helena Jane went to Hollywood to get rich?


  4. AROUND THE CIRCLE: What is the ‘hollow little game’ that he’s talking about?


  5. AROUND THE CIRCLE: What does he mean by saying ‘Hollywood’s not America’?


  6. Say something like:
    One of the messages in this song is the idea that many people are deceived by what brings true happiness and contentment in life. Helena Jane probably thought it was money and fame, and that’s the message that Hollywood puts out everyday. The Bible, however, paints a very different picture, and in the Old Testament there is an account of one of the richest men who ever lived. His name is King Solomon; let’s check out his story to see what God has to say about finding true happiness and contentment.

    Read the following passage:

      Ecclesiastes 2:1-11:
      I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless. 2 So I said, “Laughter is silly. What good does it do to seek pleasure?” 3 After much thought, I decided to cheer myself with wine. And while still seeking wisdom, I clutched at foolishness. In this way, I tried to experience the only happiness most people find during their brief life in this world.
      4 I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves. 7 I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household. I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me. 8 I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces. I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire!
      9 So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. 10 Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. 11 But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

  7. ASK SOMEONE: What was Solomon looking for?


  8. ASK A FEW: How did he go about trying to find it?


  9. ASK SOMEONE: Does he sound proud of his accomplishments? Why or why not?


  10. ASK A FEW: What does he mean by ‘chasing the wind’?


  11. ASK A FEW: Would most people consider Solomon’s achievements ‘meaningless’? Why or why not?


  12. ASK A FEW: What are the parallels between the song and Solomon’s story?


  13. Say something like:
    Some estimate that Solomon’s worth was in the 10-100 billion dollar range, and he used many of his resources trying to chase down happiness and contentment. We know that he was rich, famous, popular, and had just about anything he wanted at any time he wanted. But what is fascinating is the fact that all these things just seemed to make him even more unsatisfied.


    Read the following passage:

      Ecclesiastes 3:10-12
      I have seen the burden God has laid on men. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.

  14. ASK SOMEONE: Why do riches and success often place a ‘burden’ on people?


  15. ASK SOMEONE: What does he mean that God ‘set eternity’ in the hearts of men? (i.e. the God shaped ‘hole’ in our souls)


  16. AROUND THE CIRCLE: How can our desire for eternity be fulfilled?


  17. ASK A FEW: How do we sometimes try to fill the God shaped hole with temporary things?


  18. ASK SOMEONE: Do you think many rich and famous people are depressed because they bought into the Hollywood lie? Why or why not? (leader: you may want to reference examples like Heath Ledger and Owen Wilson)


  19. AROUND THE CIRCLE: How do we buy into the Hollywood lie?


  20. AROUND THE CIRCLE: How can we specifically fill the God shaped hole with God?

CLOSE GROUP IN PRAYER

Wrap Up:

Hollywood’s Not America illustrates an important spiritual truth from the Bible, and that is the fact that no amount of money, success, fame, or popularity can truly meet the eternal need for God that we all have. Once a person realizes this, he/she is free to ‘be happy and do good’ a part of a relationship with Jesus.

Give the group a chance to reflect and pray in silent for a few minutes, then close with prayer and an invitation for students to trust Christ, and Christian students to live life in light of eternity.

Written by Lane Palmer

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