Muse Reporting on popular and fine arts

A night to remember

Culture | Country music calls upon the Lord in America’s time of need
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 11/10/17, 01:39 pm

Country music showed off its best side Wednesday night at the 51st annual Country Music Association (CMA) Awards. Performers who previously shied away from commenting on politics and current events delivered timely speeches and performances that set a tone of respect.

The crowning moment of the night came when co-host Carrie Underwood performed the hymn “Softly and Tenderly” in front of a screen showing images of performers who died over the past year, including Troy Gentry and Glen Campbell. As she belted the final chorus, photos of the 58 victims of the Oct. 1 mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas came up on the screen, and Underwood stumbled on the notes as she fought back tears.

Not all of the night’s performances were so somber though. Darius Rucker, former frontman for Hootie and the Blowfish, led a group singalong of the band’s 1994 hit “Hold My Hand”; Faith Hill and Tim McGraw sang a love song made more believable by their 20-plus years of marriage; and Underwood and co-host Brad Paisley poked fun at politicians from both sides of the aisle in their opening monologue. To top it all off, Garth Brooks won entertainer of the year for the sixth time. 

The CMA faced backlash before the show when it sent out a media advisory barring journalists from asking attendees about politics or gun control on the red carpet. It rescinded the instructions before the show began, but it needn’t have worried. Most of the night’s performers and winners kept their comments uplifting and vague. They remembered those who died and called for unity and peace.

“Kindness is an attractive quality,” Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild told the audience.

Associated Press/Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision Associated Press/Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision Keith Urban performs “Female.”

For the love

One notable exception to the benign platitudes at the CMAs came from Keith Urban, who performed his new song “Female,” a direct response to the recent sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein and other powerful men in Hollywood. Urban said he was inspired to clear his schedule and record the song because of the women he loves. 

“I am surrounded by females in my life,” he said. “I grew up in a house with boys, no sisters. Now I am in a house that’s all girls. So this song speaks to me on a lot of levels.” Urban is married to actress Nicole Kidman, who has worked with Weinstein in the past and denounced his behavior after it came to light. Urban and Kidman have two daughters, and Kidman has a daughter and son with her ex-husband, actor Tom Cruise.

“Female” portrays women as equally important to men but also distinct from them by design. The lyrics acknowledge God created men and women separately and lists the roles women play in creation. The roles aren’t necessarily Biblical—“fortune teller” and “broken halo” join the list along with “mother,” “daughter,” and “sister.” But the song alludes to the fact that sexual assault is not just a crime against a woman, but also a sin against God and the relationships He created between humans. —L.L.

Associated Press/Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision Associated Press/Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision Kevin Spacey

Blacklisted

Amid rampant accusations not just of sexual assault in Hollywood but also of entertainment executives turning a blind eye, one filmmaker is taking a costly stand. With little over a month before the release of All the Money in the World, director Ridley Scott is cutting beleaguered actor Kevin Spacey from the film and reshooting his scenes with a replacement, Christopher Plummer, who will now play the role of J. Paul Getty. The film retells the story of the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III and his mother’s attempt to convince his billionaire grandfather to pay the ransom. Spacey faces numerous accusations of sexually assaulting men, some of them teens. Alleged victims began to come forward after actor Anthony Rapp said Spacey attempted to seduce him when he was 14. Sources say All the Money in the World co-stars Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg will participate in filming the new scenes for Scott’s film. The film was supposed to premiere Nov. 16 at the AFI Fest in Los Angeles but is now set to release in theaters Dec. 22. —L.L.

Corporate logic

Two weeks ago I wrote about how 21st Century Fox’s bid to buy British broadcaster Sky played a role in the ouster of conservative TV commentator Bill O’Reilly. (Fox News fired O’Reilly a day after British regulators overseeing the deal questioned Fox’s handling of the sexual assault allegations against him.) Regulators in the U.K. remain concerned the merger would give Fox owner Rupert Murdoch too much power in the media. Murdoch already owns two major British newspapers. In a recent submission to the Competition and Markets Authority, Sky said it would consider shutting down its 24-hour news channel Sky News if its existence would keep the merger from happening. But that doesn’t really solve the problem of having two few independent voices in the media. —L.L.

Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital assistant editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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Comments

  • Midwest preacher
    Posted: Sat, 11/11/2017 06:13 pm

    Wouldn't it be nice is some little star somewhere actually stood up for Biblical values?  We have been forced to accept that to gain any platform at all some compromise is necessary with more compromise being expected all the time.  Not much future in that. 

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