Ke$ha Is Not The Enemy
1:00 pm, December 18th | by Colette McIntyre
First, let it be known that I am not a Ke$ha fan. Not only do I resent her for the minutes I have wasted throughout the writing of this very piece, correcting every “s” to a “$”, but my body also cannot handle her creaking, lackadaisical, fried-out singing style. Thus, I should’ve been elated after discovering that Ke$ha’s latest pop hit was being yanked from radio airwaves in light of the tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut. Following the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that resulted in the death of twenty children, stations have decided that playing Ke$ha’s latest single, “Die Young”, is in poor taste.
Yes, the radio stations are well-intentioned in this decision but that doesn’t make it any less silly. Connecting a national tragedy to a song that talks about “young hunks/ taking shots” is absurd; did radio programmers really think that there was any confusion over “die young” being a metaphor? And the phenomenon has spread beyond Ke$ha songs — Weinstein Company cancelled today’s “Django Unchained” L.A premiere, Fox cancelled Saturday’s “Parental Guidance” red carpet and after party, and Paramount postponed the premiere of the sniper-film “Jack Reacher”.
This always seems to be the reaction to mass shootings (since, you know, there have been multiple, six of the deadliest since 2007): we lift our heads from prayer and suddenly realize that there is an overwhelmingly violent media surrounding us and so we censor film trailers, cut television scenes, and retract songs for a few months so as not to “dishonor the dead”. Following the Aurora, Colorado shooting, Warner Brothers canceled “The Dark Knight Rises” Paris premiere and cut any gun-related scenes from the film’s trailer. Eventually time passes, we remember that explosions and stuff are thrilling to watch, and we return to our Tom Cruise blockbusters and pop songs with casual allusions to suicide. But, for the present moment, we are still in the first stage of that cycle — the hypersensitivity stage.
I am not arguing against less violent films or a less grim media culture; I am arguing that it is problematic that our reaction to these types of tragedies is to go into hiding, to use a veil of mourning and sadness to stop us from taking a critical look at our culture. We become hypersensitive and take the wrong things seriously. We’re taking Ke$ha way too seriously, for goodness sake, a pop star who once claimed she had sex with a ghost! We take a song called “Die Young” more seriously than we take the debate over gun control or mental illness. It is easier to wag our finger at playful pop songs or violent video games and temporarily scrub our culture clean than it is to have a serious debate about weapon laws. The problem with temporarily pulling radio songs or canceling movie openings is that it tricks us into thinking that solutions are easy, that we have found and addressed the cause of violence accordingly. But what we should be asking ourselves is if a hyper-violent film like “Jack Reacher” seems inappropriate now, why did it never seem inappropriate before?
Hypersensitivity cripples important debate; it lets us use grief as a shield and distracts us from the real problems at hand. I don’t know Adam Lanza’s thoughts on Batman but the gun he used in Sandy Hook Elementary was the same make and model of the gun James Holmes used in an Aurora movie theater: a Bushmaster AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle. Clearly we’re not doing something right.