The music industry is no stranger to controversy, and country music star Jason Aldean finds himself at the epicenter of the latest storm. His recently released music video for “Try That In A Small Town” has ignited a firestorm of criticism, leading to its removal from Country Music Television’s (CMT) rotation. However, the backlash seems to have propelled the song to new heights, with reports indicating it has clinched the number one spot on US iTunes.
The video’s contentious nature stems from its perceived endorsement of gun violence and lynching. Critics were quick to point out that scenes from the video were filmed at the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee, a location infamous for the lynching of Henry Choate in 1927 and the Columbia Race Riot in 1946. The song’s lyrics, which some interpret as advocating for violence against those who disrespect the police or the American flag, further fueled the controversy.
Aldean’s response to the criticism was swift and unyielding. In a statement shared on Twitter, he emphasized that the song does not reference race and that all video clips used are genuine news footage. He also highlighted his personal experience at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in 2017, where a mass shooting claimed the lives of 60 individuals. Aldean was performing on stage during the tragedy.
The country star’s sentiments were echoed by TackleBox, the production company behind the video. They noted that the Maury County Courthouse is a popular filming location, having been used in several other projects, including the “Hannah Montana” film.
However, not everyone is convinced. Shannon Watts, founder of the gun violence advocacy group Moms Demand Action, labeled the song as an “ode to a sundown town.” Singer Sheryl Crow also weighed in, suggesting that there’s nothing “American or small town-like” about promoting violence.
The debate has extended beyond the song’s content. CMT’s decision to pull the video has drawn parallels to corporate cancel culture, with some financial experts speculating on potential repercussions similar to past incidents involving major brands.
Amidst the controversy, other artists have also voiced their opinions. Singers Jason Isbell and Jake Owen have publicly sparred over the song, highlighting the divisive nature of the issue within the music community.
Interestingly, the backlash may have inadvertently boosted Aldean’s popularity. Data from entertainment firm Luminate suggests a significant uptick in Aldean’s sales and streaming numbers. The song’s official music video, still available on YouTube, has garnered over 1.4 million views in just five days since its release.
The situation serves as a stark reminder of the power of public opinion in the digital age. As artists navigate the fine line between self-expression and societal expectations, the debate over what constitutes acceptable content rages on. For Jason Aldean, “Try That In A Small Town” has become a lightning rod, drawing both ire and support in equal measure. Whether this will impact his long-term career remains to be seen, but for now, he remains a focal point in the ongoing discourse about art, culture, and politics in contemporary America.