In the wake of last week’s tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, it’s not all that surprising to learn that Ke$ha’s “Die Young” has been taken out of rotation at radio stations across the country … even if the song is very much about celebrating life , well, there’s really no way of getting around that chorus.
That’s not the larger issue here, though. That’s mostly because there are no shortage of larger issues that have come to light following Sandy Hook, the vast majority of which probably cannot adequately be covered here (though, personally, I know where I stand on each and every one of them). In the grand scheme of things, the disappearance of “Die Young” from radio is a mere footnote, something that can very easily be chalked up to an unfortunate coincidence. Then again, I’ve never been one to avoid making a mountain out of a molehill, so please allow me to ask this one question: Why now?
I’m not trying to compare tragedies here, and certainly both the scope and savagery of the Sandy Hook shootings set it apart from much anything in recent memory, but I can’t help but wonder why radio stations weren’t pulling “Die Young” just after it premiered in September, when 25-year-old Jose Escobar was shot and killed in Chicago. It was the city’s 400th homicide of the year, a new high, and data has shown that since 2008, a staggering 530 young people — mostly African Americans and Latinos — have been killed in the city.
Or consider a report filed earlier this year by the Children’s Defense Fund, which looked at data from 2008 and 2009 and found that not only was gun homicide was the leading cause of death among black teens, but that guns killed nearly 6,000 children and teenagers in that two year span, which equals out to “one child or teen [killed] every three hours.” Given that data, one has to wonder why radio even played “Die Young” in the first place.
And the list goes on and on: Trayvon Martin was 17 when he was shot and killed in February. Twenty-year-old Dylan Lemalie was charged with the murder of 21-year-old Jesus Solis in September. Austin Reed Sigg, 17, confessed to the kidnapping and murder of a 10-year-old in October. Surely the families of the victims in these cases object to the chorus of Ke$ha’s song too, right?
Again, in many regards, Sandy Hook stands alone. But it is far from a singular incident. And I understand the reasons behind pulling “Die Young” from the airwaves … but, to me, it seems to be fueled by little more than empty sentiment, not to mention a bit of hypocrisy. No matter how you feel about Ke$ha, “Die Young” is only a song, and whether or not it’s played on radio will not bring back any of the victims of Sandy Hook, or any other crime. Here’s hoping that, as the nation seems to finally be willing to address larger, more important issues, we possess that same perspective, and push for a world where the chorus of a pop song is merely that.
What do you think of Ke$ha’s ’Die Young’ being pulled from airwaves? Let us know in the comments below.