The Internet is Alive with the Sound of Critics (and it hurts my ears)

Last night, our family of six sat down in the living room, bowls of popcorn and leftover Halloween candy flanking us, to watch something rather extraordinary on our television set.

We were a day late, and so I had already seen the reviews. Most were positive and the show had been very well-received, especially by Oklahomans. But true to the cultural norm, the negative comments also abounded: “Panned” by critics (or the two critics listed in the article), repeatedly compared to the 1965 Julie Andrews film, and nit-picked on nearly every corner of the internet (I’m looking at you, facebook and Twitter); if you wanted to hear an opinion on The Sound of Music live television event, you didn’t have to look far.

Still yet, I remained unfazed in my determination to enjoy this night. I knew going in to this that Carrie Underwood was an unseasoned actress. I knew that this was a live musical, not a movie. I knew there would be possible hiccups, or lighting problems, or sound issues…

in fact, all of those things actually added to my excitement! Would one of the nun’s candles accidentally blow out? Would Carrie stumble? Would her voice break? Would one of the children forget their lines? Would a spotlight fall from the rafters and crash onto the stage?

Truth be told, I knew none of the above had happened or I would have read about it online before the movie had even ended. But still…I couldn’t help but be nervous.

But even greater than my nervousness was admiration.

Admiration for a television network planning something that the entire family could actually sit down and watch together; I have been a mom for 6 1/2 years and this is the first time we were able to sit with our kids in the living room and watch something on primetime television with no fear of profanity, adult humor, violence or lasciviousness.

Admiration for an entire cast and crew who were willing to stick out their necks to try something daring and different, knowing that the critics would be ready to pounce.

And most of all, admiration for an Oklahoma girl who must have bit down thousands and thousands of stomach butterflies, pushing herself in ways she had never done before, to bring the magic of Rodgers and Hammerstein to a new generation of viewers.

As I watched Carrie Underwood perform, I thought of all the little girls across the nation who would be tuning in to see their favorite country singer on air for 3 whole hours. And what brought tears to my eyes was imagining that they arrived to NBC that night for the name of Carrie Underwood…

but left with a beautiful redemptive story in their hearts and a new playlist of songs that will serve them for a lifetime.

Yes, indeed, the tears were flowing over here.

Several times.

And as the touching story of the Von Trapp family played in this new format before my eyes, I wasn’t thinking about Carrie’s acting, or shadows on the set, or who had the best singing voice. I wasn’t thinking about who could have played Maria or any of the other parts better. I wasn’t even thinking about Julie Andrews or the movie that first stole my heart many, many years ago.

I was swept away, thinking of my blessings, living in a land where I don’t have to kowtow to a dictator.

I was thinking of the beauty of music that brings families together.

I was praying that my daughters would have hearts like Maria.

I was thinking about Carrie Underwood’s mama and how proud she must be.

I was thinking about my children, and thanking God that, while it would be a huge deal for all six of us to scrape together enough money to attend a live musical, we had been given the opportunity to watch one of the best for free without ever leaving our home.

And I am convinced that, regardless of how much money they brought in or how good it was for ratings, NBC gave us a gift this first week of December.

Thus, today’s blog post isn’t really about my heartfelt endorsement of The Sound of Music. I don’t need for every person in America to love the same things I love. In fact, one of my favorite things about living here is that we are free to have an opinion and are free to talk about it on the corners of the street if we want to…

but what I do crave in our entertainment-saturated culture is a little more kindness.

A little more gratitude.

A little more wonder…

And I’m not just talking about the professional critics.

I’m talking about all of us, who have been blessed by so much culture and so many different venues of entertainment that we have become underwhelmed and critical about every. single. thing.

With great blessing comes great responsibility, and we would all do well to take a step back, to contemplate what life could be like, to remember what life used to be like, and to reclaim some of the more admirable attitudes that should surround events like this week’s live television event.

Thankfulness that great music and great stories are being passed down to our children.

Camaraderie with our countrymen that encourages one of our own for doing something incredibly brave and applauds them for their extraordinary talent.

Humility that abhors pretention and doesn’t even care if we know everything about everything.

Kindness that, if it cannot say something nice, says nothing.

Wisdom that discerns when opinions are needed and when they are superfluous and indulgent.

Simplicity that gets excited when entertainers put on a show for us to watch.

And awareness that those on the screens we glue our eyes to are real people, with real feelings and with mamas who have internet access.

Again, I don’t really care if you loved The Sound of Music and I don’t need for you to be a fan of Carrie Underwood.

I just want you to be nice.

You know, like Maria.


As ever, my first concern is for my readers. All comments will be read by me, but only those that are edifying and do not lead to further debate will be published. Thanks for understanding!

21 thoughts on “The Internet is Alive with the Sound of Critics (and it hurts my ears)

  1. You are so right, and I love your perspective! We enjoyed this new Sound of Music thoroughly! My husband and sons are NOT, and I mean NOT fans of live theatre & musicals, yet they really enjoyed it. Our older two sons were asking numerous questions about the war and the historical perspective, yet they probably would never have sat down and watched it if Carrie Underwood WEREN’T in it 🙂 ha ha!

  2. Beautifully stated. If only this current generation of mankind would learn to refrain from malicious and hateful comments against others. It would be like you said, we can remember what life used to be like. Kindness today is quickly fading in our society. Sad for kids.

  3. No, it was not Julie Andrews. And no, it was a play and not a movie. As much as I loved the original movie, I really have to say I enjoyed this program so much! How brave to step out and perform live before so many. Great job!

  4. Thank you for your comments. I just wish people would do like my grandmother always said, if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all. My advise has always been, if you don’t like someone, keep it to yourself.

  5. You are simply amazing Mrs. Gore. I was brought to your blog some time ago when you published your magic mike post and since then I’ve been your biggest fan 🙂 I speak about you regularly to my friends and family. I sinply refer to you as Mrs. Gore as if your apart of our family. Thank you for all that you do.

    God bless Mrs. Gore.

  6. AMEN. AMEN. AMEN. I loved it. I cried from start to finish. I so wholeheartedly agree with every word of this post that I think I might love you MORE right now! Crazytown!!

  7. Totally agree with all of your comments! So enjoy being able to watch TV not to worry about the language. We all can learn a lesson from Maria of how to be nice & encourages to one another!!! Thank you for your words!

  8. I loved every minute of it. I adored Carrie from the beginning; what family could help but fall in love w/ her? And we do not love Broadway, so for every patron of the ‘aaaarts’ out there that has bred that culture of over dramatizing everything for stage production, we say,”Y’all can keep it, & what a relief!” I enjoyed it so much more because it was understated and not overdone. It was like watching it at an intimate community theatre….and I just wanted to state how very much we agreed with your post above. Well said.

  9. I especially like how they produced the play – sets were very well done and believable. In HD days that we are in, even the backgrounds cast a magical spell over the production. When others compare it to the movie which was done in the Alps, with even the original “Maria” appearing in the cast, it is unfair. A Broadway stage can do a lot and this play did it magically. I loved the new songs, new changes in the content, and the lovely costumes. I think this is not Sound of Music 2 , it has it’s own identity Sound of Music, the play. Good job to Carrie Underwood, she did it!

  10. Yes, yes, yes! I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been to memorize 3 hours of lines, or to know the shoes you were filling were truly unfillable. (let’s pretend that’s a word) She is brave, beautiful, and talented. After hearing some of the negative chatter, I saw a tweet from Rick Warren that just summed it up. “Little people belittle. Great people make others feel great.” So true.

  11. Dearest and Delightful-Ever Mrs. Gore—
    As soon as the production credits rolled, I went to the internet to see if any reviews had been published. The Washington Post already had one. Since it aired live in real time both in Eastern and Central time zones, the critic had to be writing as it went and “Publish” at 9:59 CST.
    My take was like yours. Here is what I posted on FB, and I hope this neither has to be barred nor encourages further discussion, but is edifying. And encouraging to others (your readers) who sometimes wonder what reality we are living in…

    “After last night’s Sound of Music, I googled reviews. One could predict before the show even aired how some would react. But surprisingly, after the required dissing of the performance, critic (name redacted) unleashes his snarkiest comments for…wait for it…the commercials! He finds the mom/pop/kids/ nuclear family in Kansas beyond the pale—even questions whether they’re real. Let’s see—a musical about a family with 7 children is not served well by commercials featuring a family of 12? In whose world? After the first break, I began to relax my guard, relieved that for tonight my sensibilities wouldn’t be assaulted by the garish, the obnoxious, or the sales pitch with nothing to offer but sexual innuendo on steroids. Refreshing doesn’t begin to describe it….”

  12. Also, in the article you link to above, if one scrolls to the bottom, one can read Carrie Underwood’s own tweet after the performance, and it’s heartening.
    “Glory to God tonight…I couldn’t be more proud. What a tough thing to pull off and we did it! I am so blessed!!!”

  13. Perfectly said. You are a wonderful writer. I have nothing to add but, thank you, God bless you and Merry Christmas!! 🙂

  14. Exactly. I felt the same way. I went in KNOWING it was NOT the 1965 movie…but a unique, more challenging approach. I thought Carrie did a great job. Everyone did. I, too, was disgusted with all the criticism. People are so cynical and shallow. What happened to, if you can’t say anything nice, just say nothing?’ thanks for writing this!

  15. I know I am super late, but I just had to comment…I LOVE the Sound of Music. When I was a little girl I used to put a black skirt over my hair and pretend to be Maria:). I am also a huge fan of musicals in general AND I don’t mind Carrie Underwood. Her acting wasn’t perfect, but my BOYS (and myself) LOVED it. AND the Sound of Music BEGAN as a Broadway musical, not a movie, and they did a spectacular job on the show! I did a small post on fb but not much bc I didn’t want to hear the negative. I’m proud to say my boys and I have watched the movie version at least 3 times since and we sing everywhere we go now (despite my lack of musical talent:). So to everything you said, I say well said!!!:)

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