It's weird to feel this powerless.
I will write this for starters and see where it leads me.
The blond, his family, best friend and I went to see the 4th of July fireworks at the esplanade. His best friend showed up at 4:30 a.m. and the blond and I showed up at 6:30 a.m. This was the first year it was shown on network TV. Herein lies the rub.
They changed the format, made longer intermissions, and generally fucked with the show. Okay, this was annoying but fairly expected with a newtwork tv audience (the tv audience counts more than the "real" one does).
However, they changed the format of the show to appeal to middle America---to obtain ratings and unfairly skew perceptions of what the 4th celebration is like.
In short, they turned a secular holiday into a Christian one. Rather than a full panopoly of patriotic and/or show tunes with maybe one "choral" song in there, the show led off an operatic song (which no one understood as it wasn't in English) and then continued with a Jesus number ("Ride on King Jesus"). Then the Pops invited "The Mormon Tabernacle Choir" to sing with them (almost every song!) including several faith based numbers. They even sang to the 1812 Overture (which is normally an instrumental) which is a song about the Russians defeating Napoleon in 1812, and have the Choir sing their own Christian lyrics to it completely changing the whole meaning and significance of the song. The blond, being a historian, is still cringing.
The featured singer was LeAnn Rimes. Now, I have nothing against her either (beautiful voice, but bubblegum lyrics) but she, too, is a cross over from Christian rock. Obviously, she and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, were meant to appeal to middle America. Christian middle America. Maybe me and my Jewish ass should just go home and stop infecting real America with my criticism.
The big disappointment is all of these "featured singers" and their singing, made the show not about the Pops. In fact, the Pops became the back up band. So, how did the "real audience" react? They hated it. The blond has been to the esplanade since 1981 so trust me he knows, and both of us could feel the disappointment that people felt that the 4th had been stolen by other groups, middle America groups, that have no connection to Boston, nor do they care to perform for "us", but rather the network audience.
Then the fireworks. Would you believe two of the songs which the fireworks exploded to, were songs the Pops (et al) had played earlier in the evening? Shouldn't someone be checking on that? And one of them was even a "popular" song, so there was really no need to duplicate. However, the network audience never noticed a thing, because that song was not replayed for them.
So, the blond and I bitterly complained (I even almost cried, this day was exhausting and my disappointment was palpable) and we waited for the "objective" reviews by the Globe.
"It was the best Pops Fourth in Years" the title decried. Was this writer at the same concert I was? "It was just a big buildup to the fireworks". Are they kidding? People in the oval cannot see the fireworks clearly (they are hidden by trees) so if the fireworks were all anyone cared about, why the wait since 1:00 AM seating time the prior day. Bullshit.
I can handle a bad performance, bad choices in singers and in songs. Everyone makes mistakes. However, what I can't handle is a very obvious fictional recounting of an event I was actually at. And, the more this is played up, the more likely this kind of crap will repeat itself next year. The solution for me is not to stay home. That defies a tradtion that the blond and his family have followed for over twenty years, the solution for me is to figure out the right way to handle this.
Please know, the reason I was so offended by this was not because I am Jewish despite my earlier comment. My Jewish sensibilities have long been assimilated to the point that I am used to this type of thing. I feel, as does the blond (who is not Jewish) that on the nation's biggest holiday we should not be injecting it with religion, given our alleged separation of church and state. I realize that many of our patriotic songs have "god" in them, and this, while irksome, does not bother me as much as the addition of even more religious songs, to tip the balance and make this a religious, rather than secular, concert. "You should not have to be a Christian to celebrate the birth of this country." ---the blond