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Newtown kids to sing ‘Call Me Maybe’ at the Grammys; Newtown backlash begins

Feb 6, 2013

When the children of Sandy Hook elementary sang “Silent Night” at SNL right after the Newtown shooting, we all cried and applauded—it was shiver-inducing. When they sang “Over The Rainbow” on “Good Morning America” two weeks ago we were like, Aw, cute. When it was announced they’d sing “America the Beautiful” at the Super Bowl pre-game show some of us, including the New York Times, said Enough already, you’re using these kids to drum up attention for your $250 million dollar testosterone bacchanalia. Now that it’s been announced they’ll sing Carly Rae Jespen’s “Call Me Maybe” at the Grammys we’re just scratching our heads, asking, WTF?

Yep, AP reported Tuesday that Ryan Seacrest will fly to Newtown, Connecticut during the Grammys for a special interview with the Newtown kids for E!’s “Live From The Red Carpet” show. “The children also will be singing Carly Rae Jepson’s hit song, ‘Call Me Maybe,’” writes the AP.

At what point does the healing end and the exploitation begin? Atlantic Wire points out the beginnings of a backlash, with our buddy Slade Sohmer of HyperVocal tweeting:

Granted, it is a catchy tune. What little kid wouldn’t want to sing “Call Me Maybe” for millions of people on live TV? But these are kids—they don’t really know what’s happening. Isn’t it a little weird to push the survivors of a trauma into the spotlight for the sake of our own catharsis?

Major televised events like this always feel ripe for selling out and exploitation. For instance, the USO signed an obviously lucrative deal with Jeep for a co-branded marketing campaign with Oprah that was extended today with Jeep offering to give money to the USO to benefit U.S. soliders in exchange for retweets. Many found the campaign wonderful and patriotic, and even if you found it vaguely exploitative of the soliders at least all the players involved were adults.

Tim Hayes, who produced the Grammy spot, said, “We know the kids involved have had a wonderful experience, but we think this chapter is now done, and we want these kids to get back to being kids.” Probably about time.

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