The Sound of Music and Culture Shock
It isn't my intention to compare and contrast the performances of Julie Andrews and Carrie Underwood, both of whom sang the lead role of Maria in The Sound of Music. As a classically trained singer, I find Andrews' crystalline, pitch-perfect voice inimitable. She has been a unique gift to the stage and screen. I can't think of a comparable talent. Her singing, dancing, and acting are all superb. Carrie Underwood has her own niche, and was very brave to take on such an uncharacteristic and formidable challenge.
The musical itself has some of the most memorable lyrics and tunes in musical history. But it also has much more than pretty tunes and delightful lyrics.
The Sound of Music reveals the culture shock that typified the sixties. During that time there was a titanic wrestling match between traditional America and radical America. For the time being, it appears the radical version of our country has prevailed.
I watched both the staged and on-screen versions. I honestly felt I may as well have been watching a musical about medieval England. The story seemed as far removed from the realities of present-day American society as the legend of King Arthur.
In fact, the musical does represent a now almost vanished era. It speaks to the worthiness of a holy secluded life, the transcendent love between a man and a woman, the exaltation of family, and the profound love of nation. How medieval, cynics might say.
It is hard to believe the film was released in 1965, the time of societal upheaval that enabled the ascendancy of the far Left in America. By the end of the sixties and the beginning of the seventies, what had formerly been a fringe group railing against the "establishment" had made breathtaking progress in undermining the foundational institutions of Western civilization -- the very foundations lauded by the musical. Tear it down, the radicals demanded. Tear it all down. And so they did.
What contrasts to radical progressivism are presented!
In the musical, the sisters represent a now nearly extinct life, one that had endured for centuries. The idea that drawing away from the world in order to dedicate one's life to seeking God's will, devote one's life to prayer and charity, was roundly rejected by radicals as a superstitious relic of the past to be replaced by sexual "freedom," shacking up together, and refusal to have children.
Who among the Left would or even could identify with Maria's tortured conscience as she hesitated between love of a man and love of God? Who among them would not laugh openly at a young woman whose desire was to dedicate her life to obeying God's will? Who among them would not fail to ridicule her ideas of chastity and honor?
And what would be the reaction by radicals to the sisters' singing, charged with the light of Heaven itself -- pure, ethereal, and floating upward like incense to the clouds? I think it might be, "We prefer John Cage's 4'33." ("4'33" consists of four minutes and 33 seconds of silence. Cage "composed" the piece in 1957.)
What about marriage? Marriage between a man and a woman is celebrated in The Sound of Music as being as holy as a nun's life. In fact, Maria is urged by her older mentor to realize that love between man and woman is holy, too. Again, that concept is considered laughable by the Left. In fact that idea that anything is holy between man and woman -- or between God and man -- is completely jettisoned. The preference is for anonymous animality instead of genuine love and romance. Relationships between the sexes are now overwhelmingly epitomized by vulgarity and complete lack of respect. Marriage itself is rapidly being redefined.
How about children? The Captain, both the real and fictitious versions, has seven children. Maria loves them into the full life of childhood, seeing them as precious in God's sight. She sees her role as introducing the children to music, laughter, and play -- to freedom that is the essence of what it means to be fully human.
But so many children make parents like the Captain an object of hatred by the Left, as children are a reminder of the consequences of sexual union as well as a reminder of the responsibilities grownups assume. Growing up is something the Left despises, which is why they prefer the eternal parenthood of the nanny State. It's also why radicals prefer keeping children forever pliant. It is why, though they constantly parade children as the object of the progressivism's highest ideals, they assiduously work to reduce their number in the name of population control.
Mention of the State brings us to the love of one's nation. The Captain, who is completely opposed to the barbarity of the Nazi regime, stands firm against the Nazi occupation of his beloved Austria, even when urged by his closest associates to go along with the new order. He so loves honor that when forced to participate in the odious Nazi order, he refuses. Eventually, given no other choice, he flees to neutral Switzerland.
To the Left, the honorable patriot is also considered laughable. That is one reason radicals despise a military dedicated to the preservation of our nation and to their codes of honor.
In fact, the end of the musical depicts the Nazi hordes at the very gates of civilization. The convent represents the sacred and transcendent; the von Trapps represent the bedrock institution of the family; the Captain represents family and nation.
Once again, here in America, the barbarians are at the gates as surely as they were at the gates of the convent. They have stormed Western institutions once founded on principles of integrity, honor, and faith. They are even at the gates of the Church itself.
Nonetheless, the ideals promoted by such productions such as The Sound of Music do not disappear, but reappear time and again as part of the redemptive and transcendent Word that informs and gives meaning to our world.
Fay Voshell is a classically trained singer. She is a frequent contributor to American Thinker and other online publications. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org