Sideshow Sarah Reax
So the news of Sarah Palin’s appearance at NQC has been pinging around the interblogs and the reaction has been decidedly … meh. Comments skeptical of - or outright appalled by - Palin’s appearance easily ran 2 to 1 ahead of the supporters here. And the trend isn’t much different over at the NQC Facebook feed. This guy rounds up a representative sample:
- We have been attending the convention for many, many years, but this will probably be the last! Now that you’ve moved the Singing News Fan Awards away from the convention and added a politcal speaker, the point of Southern Gospel Music seems to have lost its priority with you.
- I don’t attend NQC for the politics. Someone is welcome to my space.
- When will we stop wrapping the American flag around the cross of Christ. He didn’t die for republicans or democrats. He died for us all. I wish that we Christians would spend all the energy that we are spending on cutting down the “other” side and use the energy to lead others to Christ.
- Yes remember how a lot of churches were pushing George W. We all know what a joke he turned out to be. I can’t believe they would think people has forgotten about that already.God is not into politics. NQC should be about Worshiping our Lord and Saviour, not spreading hate and discontent. Count my family out as well.
- I was planning on leaving work early on Thursday, but won’t be in too big of a rush to get there now.
- I am a conservative, but if I want to hear a politician, I’ll turn on CSPAN. Besides, it’s the National Quartet Convention, not the National QUITTER Convention.
- Instead of paying this quitter to “speak,” why can’t they spend the money on better sound. Oh well, more time for ice cream and record table perusing. You betcha! *wink*
Holycoast reads the ambivalent response as evidence of a “grumpy Democrat” contingent within the sg crowd, and no doubt that’s some of what’s going on here. But it sure does seem to me like a lot of the grumbling and discontent is coming from the mainstream conservative Christian fan base too. This comment from the earlier thread on this site captures the mood of the general response:
Ya know, I have given this serious thought all day, and I will not get in to a debate or slugfest over politics, but I do not count on receiving all my spiritual inspiration at NQC - I get my spiritual inspiration in my own church. In fact, Easter Week found me in my own church 7 times - in 7 days. That is where I am cleansed, forgiven, and ministered to, and I do not go to NQC to have that done, nor do I go there for politics. I am not registered as a democrat nor a republican. I have the option and freedom of choice to cancel the hotel res (within walking distance of Freedom Hall) and I am sure I can sell all our tickets since they are on the floor for every night. I just think this is very poor judgement on the part of our NQC “Fathers”. If I want politics I can turn on CNN or FOX and it is there 24 hours a day. I figure I have contributed roughly $10,000 into the Louisville Economy and sent quite a bit along the way with the SGM groups. I bet Brumley Sing would be happy to see me.
For its part, NQC’s response to this kind of response seems to be to insist that there’s nothing to see here since Palin’s appearance isn’t “political.” Royght. One reader passed along an NQC response to his complaint about the Palin announcement:
Please understand that her speech will not be political in nature nor combative in tone. It will be the type of speech she delivers at the Women of Joy Christian Conferences where she has been featured this year focusing on the importance of her Christian faith and her family in her daily life.
The reply ends with a plea for “tolerance for those [program offerings] that do not appeal to you, realizing that there are many people who do enjoy them.” Boy howdy if that ain’t a rich. Rather like booking ACDC for the mainstage and then asking people to please remain quiet for the duration of the show so heavy metal fans can enjoy the music.
Others are arguing the opposite of the “it’s not political” response: yeah it’s political but it’s been done before, at which point they cite the singing senators. Color me skeptical. As at least one other commenter has noted, the singing senators were … you know, singing and stuff (not very well, mind you, but that doesn’t distinguish them from half of the other performers on the mainstage). No matter how hard folks try - and god knows sg types try pretty hard - to fix and limit what the music can mean, it always exceeds the power of any single interpretation or assigned value, political or otherwise. That’s why it’s possible to cringe when a singer talks politics and cry when he starts singing.
Which is why, as long music is the organizing unit of the event, experience, or performance, people are generally willing to put up with quite a lot from the musician, whether it’s the Inspirations or Brian Free doing their anti-abortion stuff or Jonathan Wilburn’s Eve-not-Steve zingers or Tony Greene’s Obamabaiting. This Palin thing has generated such a strong response not because it’s the first time politics has ever entered the world of NQC or southern gospel. Indeed, as much of a joke as this thing obviously is in many ways, Palin’s politics drift in the same general ideological direction of the NQC demographic. But the Palin appearance lacks the universalizing effect of music to redeem or at least neutralize the politically divisive effect she has everywhere she goes.
So what’s the point? Ticket sales? Perhaps for the showcase itself but this isn’t going to do anything abidingly good for gospel music. As one commenter put it:
I doubt Palin’s appearance at NQC will sell many tickets to non-sg fans. IF her speech is covered by the press, do you think they will also cover the music? I doubt it. Do you expect there to be much music during her show (and let’s face it, that’s what it’ll be)? I don’t.
Me neither, but her appearance will probably give the political diehards and ideological deadenders little starbursts of relevance for a few moments. The rest of us can just linger over a late lunch/early happy hour on Bardstown Road a little longer.Email this Post