Do the People of Newtown Care What Barry Manilow Does?

Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 18 2012 3:55 PM

Do the People of Newtown Care What Barry Manilow Does?

141718657
Barry Manilow

Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

A wave of entertainments have been postponed in the wake of Friday’s horrific murders in Newtown, Conn. Most prominently, perhaps, Tom Cruise has cancelled multiple events for Jack Reacher, his upcoming movie that includes a sniper shooting. A swanky premiere for Django Unchained was also canceled, replaced instead with a private screening “for cast and crew and their friends and families.” (Quentin Tarantino and his cast have since been asked about the film’s violence in light of the Newtown shooting—though a Weinstein Company source reportedly told Reuters “the cancellation was unrelated to the violence depicted in the movie.”)

On TV, new episodes of Seth MacFarlane’s animated shows Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show were swapped for repeats on Sunday “to avoid any potential insensitivities.” (The Family Guy episode reportedly “featured a retelling of the nativity,” while on American Dad, “a demon punished naughty children at Christmas.”) That same night, Showtime ran warnings before Dexter and Homeland, which read: “In light of the tragedy that has occurred in Connecticut, the following program contains images that may be disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.”

Advertisement

More oddly, perhaps, Barry Manilow postponed a concert in Palm Springs out of concern for “the families that have been devastated by the loss of their loved ones.” “In their honor,” Manilow wrote, “we have cancelled tonight’s concert performance and have rescheduled the concert for this Sunday at 2pm.” “Perhaps this small gesture of solidarity will help support these families on this terrible day,” he added.

Perhaps. But probably not. I can entirely understand if Manilow did not feel up to performing that night—which is what he told Bruce Fessier at the Desert Sun after the makeup concert on Sunday. “The program,” Fessier noted, “included the feel-good ‘Because It’s Christmas (For All the Children)’ with the Cathedral City High School and Washington Charter School choirs joining him on stage. That,” he adds, “would have been too tough.” I can only imagine.

But such postponements and cancellations are not about the victims; they’re about the rest of us, and it’s worth saying so. (In the case of the Hollywood movies and big TV shows, they’re often about avoiding bad press; the private Django Unchained screening would have “no media coverage,” Reuters noted.) After the Manilow concert, Fessier talked to some of the people in attendance, who “said the tragedy back East didn’t really affect their enjoyment of the shows.”

One fan said the shootings made Barry’s affection for the children on stage seem a little more poignant. But there was no mention of the tragedy and the fans said that’s what they wanted.

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

Subprime Loans Are Back

And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 23 2014 6:00 AM Naked and Afraid Prudie offers advice on whether a young boy should sleep in the same room with his nude grandfather.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 9:17 PM Trent Reznor’s Gone Girl Soundtrack Sounds Like an Eerie, Innovative Success
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 22 2014 4:34 PM Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.