One hundred six uniformed rampaging beasts marauded out of the locker room tunnel ready for battle last Sunday. Adrenaline flowing, blood pumping, this was their time to cash in another year’s worth of workouts, pain and life-shortening weekly whiplash for all the glory of an NFL Championship.
But, wait, slow down, fellas, put the Under Armour commercial rhetoric on hold a sec: patriotism calls. Before Alicia Keys set a new record for a slow-tempo “Star-Spangled Banner” (she clearly bet the over), 26 adorable children from Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, stood atop the NFL logo to sing “America the Beautiful,” backing Jennifer Hudson, who has her own horrific gun tragedy story to process. It was an incredible moment, touching, a reminder of all that when all is grim, we can and will rise again.
It was, as stated, a touching moment. But that’s because it was endearing to see our most barbaric pastime halted for just a few minutes by such innocence, only months after all that innocence had been presumed lost.
The Sandy Hook choir worked in that moment. So when news came that another group of kids from Newtown would be singing “Call Me Maybe” on Ryan Seacrest’s Grammy Awards red carpet, my first thought wasn’t “Hey, that’s cute,” it was “C’mon. Now it’s just exploitation,” executives on the hunt for another bloggable, tweetable moment. And I said as such, which caught the attention of The Atlantic, and New York Magazine, and eventually CNN.
On CNN’s “Out Front” on Wednesday, I discussed this gut reaction with host Erin Burnett and fellow guest Bonnie Fuller. Is it actually exploitation? Can it be exploitation if it’s truly beneficial for the kids’ grief? And is this just the latest example of a society in which so many of us are exploiting personal and mass tragedies? Check out the answers in this partial clip from the interview:
Kudos to Burnett, who right after that video cuts off owned up to the media’s role in exploiting tragedies. She seemed to understand exactly the points I was trying to make about the adults in the room who should know better.