A few quick observations on topics in the news today:
1. Since winning “American Idol” in 2002, Kelly Clarkson has built an amazing career for herself in the music industry. Unlike many pop stars, she found success without going down the road of sexually explicit lyrics and imagery. While she promotes messages of female empowerment and comes across as a bit of a rebel at times, she also gives off an “America’s Sweetheart” vibe that suggests she’s pretty down-to-earth. Becoming a mother recently to her daughter, River Rose, may have grounded Clarkson even more.
On her new album “Piece by Piece,” Clarkson includes a song called “I Had a Dream,” which includes lyrics that take on artists who overindulge in sexual imagery – and maybe confronts temptations she’s had to face in her own career from industry people who wanted her to follow that path herself.
Here are some lyrics:
Remember that the footprints you’re leaving
Will tell us all who you really are.
It’s too bad you can’t see what you’re worth,
Spreading your legs instead of using your words.
Character is shown by the things that we do.
The one thing you’re never gonna hide is the truth.
I had a dream that we were more,
A generation to behold.
Lighting fires with our words,
Instead of useless smoke that blurs.
The lines of hiding home,
Expression that lives on,
An army with a song
That lingers when we’re gone
I had a dream.
Good for Clarkson for aiming high and trying to accomplish something good and lasting through her music. Artists don’t always hit the mark they’re aiming for, but attempts to light “fires with our words” will eventually lead to something good. And it requires actual talent to accomplish.
2. Speaking of sexually explicit messages, that’s what former baseball great Curt Schilling had to deal with on Twitter after he tweeted a congratulatory message to his daughter for making it onto the Salve Regina University softball team next year. Soon after, the vulgarity about his daughter started.
Schilling wrote on his blog:
I started to see…tweets with the word rape, bloody underwear and pretty much every other vulgar and defiling word you could likely fathom began to follow.
Now let me emphasize again. I was a jock my whole life. I played sports my whole life. Baseball since I was 5 until I retired at 41. I know clubhouses. I lived in a dorm. I get it. Guys will be guys. Guys will say dumb crap, often. But I can’t ever remember, drunk, in a clubhouse, with best friends, with anyone, ever speaking like this to someone…
Instead of taking the abuse lying down, Schilling used some detective skills to track down the anonymous tweeters online and publicly call them on their bad behavior on his blog. One got fired from his job, while another was suspended from school.
In an online world that people often think they can inhabit without consequences, Curt Schilling taught a valuable lesson: words matter. Or like the Kelly Clarkson lyrics said, “Remember that the footprints you’re leaving / Will tell us all who you really are.”
What these kids are failing to realize, what this generation fails to realize is this; Everything they’ve just said and done? That is out there now, forever. It can, and in some cases will, follow them for the rest of their lives. We as a society have managed to get it to this point, and it’s absolutely because these idiots, at an age far past when they should know better, and have been taught better, are neither.
You can read his whole blog post about accountability here.
3. Finally, I saw an article from Breitbart online yesterday. It was written by actor Robert Davi in response to a scene involving Kevin Spacey from the latest season of “House of Cards.” Davi recalled his daughter describing the scene to him:
Spacey’s character goes into church and, while looking at a statue of the crucified Christ, spits in his face. He then stares at it a moment, takes out a handkerchief and wipes the spit off Christ’s face. As he does this the statue begins to shake. My daughter said the look on Spacey’s face was priceless.
The Christ figure then falls off the wall and crashes onto the church floor into many pieces. A priest walks in, looks at the shattered pieces, and Spacey says something like, “the statue fell.”
I am Catholic. My children are raised Catholic. They all think and act for themselves, but my daughter was affected by this scene. Partly because of the shock value but also partly because deep down she knows of my love for Christ.
Davi goes on to explain why he thinks the scene was agenda-driven, that perhaps the makers of the show were looking to make a negative comment about the Catholic Church. While that’s possibly true, I would offer an alternate possibility.
Firstly, I admit I’ve never watched “House of Cards” and didn’t see this scene in context, so I can’t comment on how exactly it came across. I have, however, read about the show and its storylines enough to get a sense of Spacey’s character, Frank Underwood.
Underwood is a man who has murdered two people in his quest to become President of the United States and gain ever more power. Murdering another human being is a bigger slap in the face to Jesus than actually spitting on a crucifix. Murder is also a commonplace event in movies and television, so maybe the makers of the show were looking for an image that conveyed Underwood’s black soul in a different, more attention-getting way. From that point of view, it certainly seems to have worked.
There’s also the fact that Underwood is a Southerner who was undoubtedly raised with the story of Jesus, the God who came to earth and found power by being powerless. That approach goes against everything Underwood stands for, so again, the spit makes sense for the character. After all, when you’re the devil’s disciple, you’re going to spit in the face of Jesus.
But maybe beneath Underwood’s thick veneer of sin lies the remains of a conscience that was pricked at the site of Jesus on the cross. Evil men don’t like to have their consciences pricked so this could have been Underwood’s way of shutting up that part of his mind.
Again, this is all just guessing on my part. Maybe the “House of Cards” creators have an ax to grind that I don’t know about. Or maybe this was just a decision of character revelation.
Either way, if Frank Underwood is your hero, you should likely go see a priest about an exorcism.
UPDATE: You can read the whole exchange between Frank Underwood and the bishop at this site. And it sounds like the reviewer agrees with my take on the scene:
The Bishop leaves Frank alone – ostensibly to pray, and Frank approaches the image of the crucified Jesus. He looks up to Jesus and, voice full of disdain, observes:
Love. That’s what you’re selling. Well I don’t buy it.
Frank spits up onto Jesus’ face. After a few moments of consideration, he pulls out a handkerchief to wipe the spit away, but when he touches the crucifix, it shifts, throwing Jesus to the floor. The porcelain figure shatters, and Jesus’ body lies literally broken at Frank’s feet.
The image is powerful: Frank has become the Roman soldiers, spitting on Jesus and breaking his body. Through his disdain, Frank has rejected the way of Jesus in favor of the way of Rome. Jesus has already announced his forgiveness of Frank, but Frank has (literally) spat in the face of that offer.
(Kelly Clarkson album cover property of RCA. Kevin Spacey photo property of Netflix.)