Just before "Mind Over Mania" aired last night, Ron Luce sent an e-mail to Teen Mania's massive mailing list claiming that he and other senior leaders had been duped into participating in the documentary. He declared the program "negative" and "inflammatory" before he had even seen it. Not surprisingly, Teen Mania supporters are not happy about the information that was broadcast, and they are out in full force today. If you want some idea of what that looks like, check out the comments here and here.
Ron Luce included a link to the trailer of the MSNBC program in his mass e-mail, and current Honor Academy interns were shown a recording of the show this morning. This should not surprise anyone--MSNBC has a direct pipeline into 78 million homes, so this story was just too big for them to ignore. I expect Teen Mania to offer an official rebuttal to the program sometime in the near future, although I do not know of any specific plans or what form that rebuttal might take.
To those who were dismayed by what they saw in "Mind Over Mania" and want to do something about it: I think this is a key moment in time for our community, and the airing of this documentary presents some unique opportunities. For the first time, the plight of those hurt by Teen Mania has been covered by a well-respected, national news organization. That is HUGE!
Here are some ways we can use the airing of "Mind Over Mania" to help get the word out that Teen Mania is a dangerous place for young people:
- Show the documentary to your friends and family! While the program only just started to scratch the surface of the many problems at Teen Mania, the presentation was compelling and succinct. Many times, I have found it difficult to really explain to people the nature or extent of the problems with Teen Mania. I personally feel like I can use "Mind Over Mania" as a tool to help people understand why I was hurt and why I want to take action.
- Write about "Mind Over Mania" on the internet. Looking at my blog traffic, I can tell that lots and lots of people are searching for information regarding this documentary. A quick Google search will reveal that lots of people are buzzing about the show. If you can, take some time to write about your personal reaction to the show. Was your experience similar to those of the women who shared their stories on the show? Do you think Teen Mania is a good place for teens? Write about it and post it to your Facebook, Twitter, tumblr....whatever! If you want to remain anonymous, it only takes a few seconds to sign up for a new account. RIGHT NOW people are searching for information on Teen Mania, and we want to make sure that our voices are heard clearly among all the Teen Mania "party line" chatter.
- Use "Mind Over Mania" to help reach out to the local and regional media in your area. The fact of the matter is, this IS a huge news story, and Teen Mania continues to hold live events all around the country almost every weekend. Chances are, at least one media outlet in your area would be willing to run a story about a Texas-based cult coming into town to recruit teenagers. So, if a live Teen Mania event is happening near you, call your local newspapers and television stations....ESPECIALLY the local NBC affiliate. Tell them about your concerns regarding Teen Mania, and let them know that MSNBC has already run a major story about the organization. Get a copy of "Mind Over Mania" into the hands of any reporter, editor, or producer that expresses even the slightest bit of interest. You'll save them some research, and they'll know it is a "safe" story to run from a legal standpoint--two things that will make it much more likely for them to run with your story idea!
Those are some of my initial thoughts....I'm sure I'll have more over time. If you need a copy of the documentary and are having trouble finding it online, please send me a private message at the e-mail address in the sidebar, and I will try to help you find it. And to my fellow former "manics"--please continue to speak up about your experiences and get the truth out there! That is what is going to make all the difference in the world.