Posted by: Jack Brown | December 10, 2013

Carrie On

Like millions of Americans, I tuned in last week to see what NBC would do with one of my favorite musicals of all time, The Sound of Music. To be honest, though, I didn’t make it very far into the broadcast. Between the annoying white noise in the background (I already have tinnitus, don’t need any more noise!) and the issues I had with Carrie Underwood in the lead role, I found myself turning it off and declaring my intent to watch the Robert Wise film in the near future.

I have no issues with Carrie Underwood as a person or a musician, and to be honest I have seen far wooden-er performances. But apparently many in the blogosphere and Twitter were quite personal and severe in their anti-Carrie rants. It was, in a word, harsh. And when Underwood took to Twitter herself to respond with “Mean people need Jesus. They will be in my prayers tonight,” I applauded her honesty and her prayerful attitude. It reflected the teachings of Jesus, who encouraged his followers to “pray for those who mistreat you.”

Then I watched as the story of her reply made its own journey around the Internet. And how did many news sites choose to report her response? They framed it as her “vent” towards EVERYONE who critiqued her performance, not just to those who were unduly and undeservedly mean. Here are a few of the headlines:

“Carrie Underwood Praying for Sound of Music Critics” (today.com)
“Carrie Underwood Responds to Sound of Music Critics” (huffingtonpost.com)
“Carrie Underwood Responds to Sound of Music Live Criticism” (E! Online)
“Carrie Underwood is Probably Praying for You” (vulture.com)

Do you see the pattern here? Underwood makes a comment about the (VERY) mean things that made their way around the internet (here’s an example: “Carrie Underwood is trying. You know who else tried? Hitler.” And that’s one of the mild ones. There were also death threats, rude and violent sexual remarks, and racist comments about Audra McDonald as the Mother Superior), and her tweet gets portrayed as her response to every single person who critiqued or even disliked her performance. In that recast light, her comment about praying for them comes off in a completely different way–a way that is neither flattering nor accurate.

But such is the case when it comes to Christians who are in the media spotlight. It seems every attempt is made to cast them in a bad, hypocritical light. Simply put, the lust in the media to find Christians acting holier-than-thou and wagging their spiritual index finger at everyone else is insatiable, and as a result they love to miscast, misreport, and misrepresent. That’s exactly what happened here. Carrie Underwood responded to a very specific subset of those who reacted negatively (the haters), and the media took the opportunity to twist her words in order to portray her as a hater herself.

As I said, I didn’t care much for her performance at all. But I’m also intelligent enough to know her tweet wasn’t directed at me. That knowledge, however, doesn’t sell papers (or I guess to be accurate, doesn’t generate clicks and comments). And I have seen a LOT of comments to these misreported stories, and they’re exactly what you’d expect: “Who does she think she is?” “She tanked, and now she plays the Jesus card like every other born-again nut.” “Keep praying for me, Carrie, because I still think you suck.” And so on, and so forth, et cetera, et cetera.

I hope these people never find themselves on the receiving end of some of the truly hateful stuff I read about Carrie Underwood over the past few days. If they ever do, I wonder if they would show grace and courage in the midst of it as she did. But even if they did, you can rest assured they wouldn’t get raked over the coals for it…unless, of course, they mention Jesus.

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Responses

  1. Good thoughts, Jack. I didn’t know what was going on in this. It is one thing to deflect normal criticism of one’s performance to Jesus. But quite another given the context here. Thanks.


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