Country star Jason Aldean is facing criticism following the release of a music video that some believe uses racial undertones to glamorize small towns over cities. But users across social media who claim to hail from such communities are also pushing back on Aldean’s characterization.
The release last week of the music video for Aldean’s song, “Try That in a Small Town,” which first hit airwaves in May, led critics to accuse the singer of advocating for vigilante gun violence and demonizing the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. The video shows footage of property destruction taking place amid the BLM protests of 2020, accompanied by lyrics that dare participants to attempt similar actions in a small-town community.
“Sucker punch somebody on a sidewalk / Carjack an old lady at a red light / Pull a gun on the owner of a liquor store / Ya think it’s cool, well, act a fool if ya like …. Well, try that in a small town.”
Aldean has since denied the allegations, arguing that there “is not a single lyric in the song that references race or points to it.” The country singer instead stated that the track “refers to the feeling of a community that I had growing up, where we took care of our neighbors, regardless of differences of background or belief.”
Yet many have taken issue with Aldean’s demonization of big cities compared to small-town America, noting that life in small towns have similar issues, and that the lyrics are missing things like “dilapidated buildings, empty malls,” and, perhaps most importantly, “meth.”
The controversy over the song and music video ultimately led the Country Music Channel (CMT) on Monday to pull the video from its channel. The network has so far declined to explain its reasoning for the decision.
Right-wing fans of Aldean, who love country music and the vilification of so-called liberal hellholes, are now complaining Aldean is being censored in the wake of the decision. But small-town denizens think he’s just wrong.
“You wanna talk about small town America? Let’s fucking talk,” another said. “In my small town, drugs were rampant. We knew which cops were dealing & which ones could be bribed with weed. We knew where the meth houses were.”
The controversy has led Aldean’s video to receive more than 1.1 million views in just five days on YouTube. Aldean’s previous 25 uploads on YouTube never topped 1 million views.
“I grew up in a small town and people mostly just did meth to pass the time, but ok,” one user added.
While it’s unclear where the controversy will go from here, the video continues to rack up views as Americans argue over its true meaning.
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*First Published: Jul 19, 2023, 11:53 am CDT
Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.