Opinion: A Missed Opportunity for the Grammys and Country Music

I saw the promise all day yesterday. That evening's Grammy broadcast would feature country music stars paying tribute to the fans lost to gun violence at the Las Vegas massacre last fall. I looked forward to it, not because I'm a fan of country music but because it was, I thought, a chance for one of our litany of mass shootings to live beyond the news cycle, to affect some kind of change, if not in law, than perhaps in attitude. 

I should have known better.

Instead of the sort of broadside artists delivered on behalf of the Me Too movement and (to a lesser degree) the immigration debate, all we got from country music and the music industry was a whitewashed statement about lives "taken from us" and a questionable performance of a song about a child killed in an accident.

After the worst mass shooting in modern American history - at a country music concert - country artists who were there and the recording industry they worked for didn't even bother to say the word gun. The lives lost in Las Vegas may as well have been lost in an earthquake or some other natural disaster. In fact, if you didn't know what happened in Las Vegas prior to last night, you still wouldn't know this morning. 

We've now sanitized every aspect of the gun epidemic in this country. Shootings that don't pass a certain threshold of horror (or, to be honest, clickability) don't even get coverage any more. When they do, they're described entirely with euphemism until the pundits can get their scripts out of storage and head to television to say the lines they've rehearsed over and over. We don't get to truly stare it in the face, and then we move on.

In the days after Las Vegas, out of the shock and numbness that we all felt, we once again allowed some hope to seep in - that maybe this would at least get people who wouldn't otherwise be speaking out about the issue of guns to do so. Just a few months later, that seems awfully silly.

The opinions expressed in this piece are those of the author alone and do not reflect the viewpoint of any of the candidates profiled here.