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CMA Fest - Day 3

Jason Aldean at Day 3 of the CMA Fest held on June 10, 2023, in Nashville, Tennessee. | Source: Variety / Getty

White conservatives are currently throwing a hissy fit on Twitter now that Country Music Television has pulled a controversial song and video by country music singer Jason Aldean titled, “Try That in a Small Town.”

In case you’re unfamiliar with the video, it has been criticized as low-key racist because that’s pretty much what will happen when a white man sings the lyrics, “Got a gun that my granddad gave me / They say one day they’re gonna round up / That shit may fly in the city / Good luck trying that in a small town” over what appears to be anti-police violence protest-turned riot footage.

Oh, and it probably doesn’t help that the whole thing was filmed outside the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee, where in 1927, a white lynch mob dragged 18-year-old Black man Henry Choate through the streets behind a car before hanging him from the courthouse window.

Aldean was at least smart enough to give himself plausible racism deniability (at least in his own mind) by not explicitly mentioning Black Lives Matter in the song or showing any BLM banners in the video. It’s just a very pro-cop song and pro-American flag video that is clearly meant to depict what white people think were BLM riots with no clear references to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot or the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. (You, know, the violent riots attended by plenty of people from small towns.)

The lynch-happy undertones in the song and video were obvious to anyone who isn’t a MAGA cultist who also doesn’t think Donald Trump is racist despite the volumes upon volumes of evidence that says otherwise. So, it’s no surprise that Aldean defended his work against anyone who could hear his dog whistling loud and clear.

“In the past 24 hours I have been accused of releasing a pro-lynching song (a song that has been out since May) and was subject to the comparison that I (direct quote) was not too pleased with the nationwide BLM protests. These references are not only meritless, but dangerous,” Aldean wrote in a social media post. “There is not a single lyric in the song that references race or points to it- and there isn’t a single video clip that isn’t real news footage -and while I can try and respect others to have their own interpretation of a song with music- this one goes too far. As so many pointed out, I was present at Route 91-where so many lost their lives- and our community recently suffered another heartbreaking tragedy. NO ONE, including me, wants to continue to see senseless headlines or families ripped apart.”

(Funny enough, Aldean’s mea culpa didn’t include a reference to that time he wore blackface for Halloween…)

Perhaps Aldean was attempting to draw attention away from the idea that his video was full of veiled BLM condemnation by mentioning the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, which he headlined in 2017, the night a mass shooter killed 58 people and injured more than 850. That shooting was carried out by a 64-year-old white man, Stephen Paddock, who was from the*checks notes*small town of Clinton, Iowa. It’s interesting that there didn’t appear to be a single reference to the massacre in his song.

Anyway, white people on Twitter appear to be almost as angry about CMT’s decision to pull the video as they were when Beyonce performed “Daddy’s Lessons” at the Country Music Awards. They’re almost as pissed off as racists were when there were a lot of Black artists at the CMAs last year. They’re almost as upset as country music star Morgan Wallen was when he was shown on video calling his Black neighbors the n-word. (I’m not saying country music has a culture of racism, I’m just saying it without saying it much like Aldean was saying, “F—k BLM” without saying it.)

And if Aldean wasn’t specifically targeting BLM protests (despite the fact that the vast majority of them were non-violent), he should probably tell his fans that.

So, what do y’all think? Is the song/video as racist as people say, or did CMT overreact by pulling it from its platform?


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