The whole ‘cancel culture’ of America in 2021 and the 7 years before it has been bothersome at a minimum. We have seen good people canceled for a 10-second mistake and watched horrible people have their behavior excused because of something someone did to them long ago. As if to say past trauma excuses them for passing that trauma on to someone else. Music has somehow remained largely unscathed by this (minus R. Kelly), but that is changing now.
Brighton’s Council Rock Primary School has canceled “Jingle Bells” as a Christmas carol for their annual concert. This decision was made by the school board, and fully endorsed by Principal Matt Tappon as it has “the potential to be controversial or offensive.”
It turns out his justifications behind this come from a 2017 Cambridge University Press article. The article reads “The key question that has so far eluded inquiry is this: ‘Where was it first performed?’ The legacy of ‘Jingle Bells’ is, as we shall see, a prime example of a common misreading of much popular music from the nineteenth century in which its blackface and racist origins have been subtly and systematically removed…” Or to put it another way, it was canceled because it came from a time when people would experience white guilt…
The fact of the matter is this should never have been canceled as a song, much like the classic “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, which was attacked about four years ago. Canceling songs because people misinterpret them or because they were written in a less than PC time in our history is insanely overbearing.
Mind you, Tappon is not the first educator to do this, and I am sure he won’t be the last. As a matter of fact, back in April, University of Nevada-Reno lecturer Kate Pollard spoke of her decision to lose “Polly Wolly Doodle” and “Canoe Song” for teaching her kids proper pronunciations. These simple songs help young mouths learn how to form progressively harder sounds, but are easy enough to keep kids encouraged by their progress. Yet to hear these songs are full of misappropriation from the indigenous people and their culture in her eyes. As such, canceled for the kids.
Going back to the Brighton School District has more people than the principal on their side for this cancellation, and they added on to his reasons heavily too. “Some suggest that the use of collars on slaves with bells to send an alert that they were running away is connected to the origin of…”Jingle Bells.” While we are not taking a stance to whether that is true or not, we do feel strongly that this line of thinking is not in agreement with our district beliefs to value all cultures and experiences of our students.” This is some dangerous thinking here.
To automatically align jingling bells with slaves as opposed to the bells commonly worn on horse-drawn sleighs is simply insane. Never mind the fact that the song’s lyrics literally state that it’s about the bells on a one-horse open sleigh. Yes, some lyrics use code to hide the true meaning of the lyrics, but given the popularity with such things are the time of the song being written and where it was written, it makes sense to take the lyrics at face value. Who knows what cancel culture will come after next. Maybe ‘Wheels On The Bus’ since black kids were bussed for school integration?