Rolling Stone Attempts to Shut Down the Jason Aldean Discussion When Hypocrisy Is Exposed

(AP Photo/Al Wagner)

It has been a fascinating week watching the cultural siege playing out over a country music song. Jason Aldean’s single “Try That In A Small Town” was an arguably provocative release, but the reaction to it has been so over the top that one has to just step back at first and watch the hysteria unfold. To say it has been polarizing is an understatement. On the left, the media has lashed out at it, and the CMT channel has removed Aldean’s video. On the right, the song has been defended, and the song is now topping the charts, sitting at No. 1 on iTunes and Spotify.

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Aldean has been accused of racism, calling for violence, and even promoting lynching. Some outlets have said this is an ode to segregated sunset towns. These are ludicrous accusations proven out by a simple fact: Nowhere can evidence be found supporting these charges when looking over the lyrics. The only reference to a gun is a mention of the government wanting to confiscate it, and you cannot find anything of a racial nature unless the accuser injects race into a phrase. (If you see the lines Sucker punch somebody on a sidewalk / Carjack an old lady at a red light” and see race involved, then this is on you.)

 

 

As for lynching – something that nearly every news outlet has invoked in reference to the song’s video – they need to point out that segments are shot at Tennessee’s Maury County Courthouse, which was once the site of a lynching. This is the stretch needed to invoke the racial violence that Aldean is supposedly guilty of due to an event from nearly a century ago. Somehow holiday films and the “Hannah Montana Movie” managed to evade culpability after filming at the same location.

In the course of the discussions this week a common refrain has been from those who have pointed out that if you are getting bent out of shape over this release, you should be enraged over things sung in previous music. Rap music is frequently a source of very overt lyrics glorifying violence and guns. In fact, this same magazine once highlighted Ice-T when he released the far more aggressive song “Cop Killer,” being so unbothered by his content that he was actually placed on the cover.

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Pointing out this type of double standard is having an effect, as Rolling Stone has added an additional column to the multiple pieces already published on Aldean’s ditty. This rebuttal, by Simon Vozick Levinson, is very upset that people on the right have dared pushback against the outrage. 

This is a familiar pattern to anyone who’s paid attention to the past few decades of conservative punditry. When the heat gets too high on the right wing, they try to change the subject to hip-hop.” Levinson then tries to delegitimize the discussion of past references by…bringing up past references himself. You cannot bring up rap songs from years ago because other times conservatives brought up rap songs – years ago. 

It is clear what is at play here. Levinson is bothered because he wants that heat turned up on conservatives, and he loathes that there could be a defense offered up by those people. Just pipe down and absorb the accusations, you conservatives – your defense of something is the actual offense. “Any time a critic today points out something questionable happening in the Nashville world, their social mentions are flooded with variations on ‘But what about hip-hop?’”

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Just pause here for a moment and let us analyze what he is saying. Criticizing country music is supposed to be allowed to stand. People logging a similar criticism of rap music is somehow out of line, and the original criticism is supposed to go unchallenged. There is guilt alleged, and no defense in response is to be allowed. This stunted thinking then descends further.

These talking heads go after hip-hop because it’s a convenient punching bag. It’s much easier to appeal to Americans’ latent fear of Black expression than it is to defend something like Jason Aldean’s video.” Using Nashville as a punching bag is not considered a problem. As for bringing up rap music in this discussion, how does fear play into any of this? It is an attempt to show the vacancy of the original argument, because if you are saying that unspoken calls for violence in a song that you inferred are considered a problem, then other instances where direct calls for violence in lyrics occurred should also be problematic.

Instead, we see in the past where those instances were defended and even heralded. If Jason Aldean is guilty of something for saying that if you commit crimes in his town, there will be a response, then those who have called for actual violence and crime in songs should be seen as more guilty. It is not a racial issue; it is noting the rampant hypocrisy in all of this bluster. Then Levinson takes things to a more ridiculous level – he actually accuses the response to the attempted cancellation of Aldean as a move to silence artists.

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Nevermind that this is the same ideological movement that’s always talking about free speech – the hypocrisy is nothing new.” This is now a pure farce. Nobody pointing out the rap lyrics that are not criticized is trying to stifle free speech. This is a desperate attempt at deflection because all of the hysteria over “Try This In A Small Town” was a move to have it silenced. Look at the support that rose up when Country Music Television pulled Aldean’s video from its rotation. The projection in this accusation could be shown at a drive-in.

Levinson, and his ilk, cannot deal with having their announced standards reflected back on them. It leads to the ridiculous comments that frequently come up in these discussions, where it is alleged that conservatives are waging a culture war when they simply respond to an initial incursion on a cultural item. The left wants to silence a country singer, but if you bring up equal or worse examples of the alleged violation, then you are accused of censorship and culture war tactics. 

This is the same move we saw when the Biden administration floated the idea of banning gas stoves. When there was a reaction and pushback, the media claimed conservatives were creating a controversy out of thin air, even as the ensuing narrative was, in fact, a call to have those curtailed. It is an infantile debate method, where they feign outrage at being challenged on their efforts. “They started it when they hit us back!” is the type of whining you hear on the playground. 

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How dare those conservatives try to defend against cultural attacks made by liberals and the media! The accusations are supposed to be made valid by rote, and any effort to defend against them is considered an assault. Funny…that was the very point of Aldean’s song where he sang about a response against social aggressions. No wonder they are so mad at him. 

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