As if the concept of bulletproof backpacks for kids wasn’t already something out of a nightmare timeline from another America, Fox Business did a segment about them as La Roux’s “Bulletproof” played in the background. Of course, La Roux is rejecting the use of her song, and for good reason.
Artists have of late experienced the horror of politicians (mostly Trump) and others using their songs for causes with which they don’t agree. La Roux’s reaction is of another type: a kind of shock bred from having a song truly misused.
La Roux called the whole thing “abhorrent” and clarified (as should have been obvious to the makers of the Fox Business segment) that the song was not about actual bullets, but rather about love and relationships. Which makes much more sense than the way they used it.
But this controversy also shows the pitfalls of marketing such a product. What kind of song do you play when you’re selling bulletproof products marketed to kids and their parents? You can’t play a sad song, you can’t play a song about guns and you certainly can’t play a song that includes the lyric “this time maybe I’ll be bulletproof.”
I’m not actually being critical of the reaction here. The reason that it’s so hard to find a way to market this kind of product is because it shouldn’t have a market at all. Bulletproof backpacks?
Why on earth have school supplies companies and entrepreneurs looking to somehow benefit from America’s lax gun laws decided to create a product for a world in which mass school shootings regularly happen and therefore are likely to happen again?
To be fair, during the same segment, the host gives a throwaway line about how it’s incredible that this kind of step is needed to keep kids safe, but of course the general tone of the segment is very much “our hands are tied.”
It is as though gun violence is some kind of natural disaster and there is little difference between schoolchildren wearing this backpack and kids having to do tornado drills.
But, of course, gun violence isn’t a natural disaster, and kids at school shouldn’t be under the same risk of assassination as political figures are (for real reasons that make sense!). And they certainly shouldn’t be in a headspace where they’re thinking about their sense of style along with the risk of gun violence.
The use of “Bulletproof” as well as the concept behind the segment itself (“Stay fashionable AND don’t get killed? What an amazing deal!”) romanticize the idea of a bulletproof backpack, while glossing over the issues that make it relevant.
Bulletproof fashion for kids isn’t fashionable at all, and neither is glamorizing these products while ignoring the fact that people who shouldn’t can still easily get their hands on a gun.
According to a statement from a Fox Business spokesperson, the song was chosen by the production team and the selection has been addressed.