Photo by Sanford Myers/Invision/AP
Ever since the Las Vegas massacre, country music artists have been coming out of the woodwork to take an anti-gun position. Some have been incredibly vocal about it, which might not be the best career move when you consider the demographics of country music fans.
However, when this was transpiring, Carrie Underwood released a song that appeared to have an anti-gun message. As she’s one of the biggest stars in the genre, it was a huge win for anti-gunners.
Only, it doesn’t sound like she was trying to send any such message.
It must be a strange time for such a quintessentially American artist to be visiting the wider world, especially one who is white, southern and religious. “I feel like more people try to pin me places politically,” she says carefully. “I try to stay far out of politics if possible, at least in public, because nobody wins. It’s crazy. Everybody tries to sum everything up and put a bow on it, like it’s black and white. And it’s not like that.”
She cites as an example the reaction to her recent single The Bullet, which looked at the long-running emotional impact of a shooting death. “Immediately people said ‘Oh you have a song about gun control!’” she sighs. “It was more about the lives that were changed by something terrible happening. And it does kind of bug me when people take a song, or take something I said and try to pigeonhole or force me to pick a side or something. It’s a discussion – a long discussion.”
Now, that’s fair. She wanted to sing about the impact of a violent event that was committed with a gun, but it’s not necessarily about gun control. I can buy that.
And yeah, the emotional impact of losing someone you care about to in a shooting is something that most people don’t understand. Art is a hell of a way to help them grasp it, though.
I can dig it.
I can also understand Underwood’s frustration at people trying to turn it into a political message. Art doesn’t always have symbolism and deeper meanings behind what you see. Sometimes, what you see is what you get. Reading a political message into a song when it’s not there is akin to finding symbolism in stories and claiming the author chose blue drapes in his story to represent depression when, in fact, he just liked the color.
Underwood, like so many other celebrities, is facing people who want to push her to embrace a political stance. That’s especially true on a topic like guns. Being apolitical is no longer tolerable for some people. You have to declare your tribe in their mind. Yet, if you declare for the wrong tribe, you should be ostracized and shunned from polite society.
Honestly, is it any wonder that someone like Underwood doesn’t want to talk about her personal politics? Hell, I wouldn’t in her shoes, and I don’t have nearly as much to lose as she does.
But since she is apolitical, they want to find out what she really thinks and, unfortunately, she gave them that one song. So they did what they do and deconstruct it to make it really say what they want it to say. Now, Underwood has to clarify that fact.
How about we start letting artists be artists again and stop thinking their politics should even matter?