Today’s featured photo is a screenshot from Jason Aldean’s video for the song, “Try That in a Small Town”.
Folks, I’m going to be honest. I don’t follow Jason Aldean’s career. I see that I did mention him in my blog a couple of times. I believe it was during the pandemic, when he was getting some crap from people for daring to take photos with his family while unmasked. I didn’t agree with him being harassed for that and I said so. That situation provided an example of my conservative leanings. I totally understand why some people get irritated with more liberal folks. Sometimes, people on the left legitimately can be insufferable.
I fully support Sheryl Crow’s comments to Jason Aldean regarding his latest “hit” song, “Try That in a Small Town”. The song, which Aldean says is an “ode” to the “feeling of a community” he had while he was growing up, is coming under fire for its video and its lyrics. And Sheryl Crow, who likewise grew up in a small town, posted this on Twitter:
.@Jason_Aldean I’m from a small town. Even people in small towns are sick of violence.There’s nothing small-town or American about promoting violence. You should know that better than anyone having survived a mass shooting.— Sheryl Crow (@SherylCrow) July 19, 2023
This is not American or small town-like. It’s just lame https://t.co/cuOtUO9xjr
Like Sheryl Crow, I grew up in a small town. I knew, and still know, lots of people who love their guns. I have quite a few relatives who own weapons, and having been an Army wife for years, I know lots of people who carry guns as part of their work. And lots of those folks, like me, were raised in small towns. I know there are some wonderful people in small towns, and there’s a lot to love and respect about most of America’s small communities.
However, I also know that people who live in small towns can be notoriously small minded about a lot of things. Positive changes can come very slowly, even in 2023, when everyone has access to the Internet and 24 hour news. There’s a lot of hatred and gun violence in the world today, and many small towns have made the news because of mass shootings or so-called “good old boys” taking the law into their own hands and killing people.
Jason Aldean has, himself, been involved in a mass shooting. In 2017, Aldean was performing at an outdoor music festival in Las Vegas when a man on the 32nd floor of a building opened fire. Sixty people died, and about 400 were wounded. You’d think after a terrifying experience like that, Mr. Aldean would understand the gravity of promoting violence, even in a song he claims is about “small communities” and how residents look after their own.
I know firsthand that sometimes small communities are hotbeds of dysfunction, and while people can legitimately be kind and supportive toward the people they know, they can also be hateful and closed-minded toward those who are considered different. And sometimes, those who are different somehow end up dead… and those “good old boys” wind up spending the rest of their lives rotting in prison. Or the different person can’t take the harassment anymore and commits suicide.
Last night, I shared an article by People Magazine about Sheryl Crow’s comments. One of my conservative leaning friends took me to task over doing that, claiming that Aldean’s song doesn’t promote violence. This was my response:
Americans are obsessed with guns, and the idea that owning them will protect them from violence. The tone of that song is belligerent. I grew up in a small town myself and never had issues with people owning guns. Hell, my entire class got hunter safety training in the 5th grade, because guns were so prevalent in the 80s. But this attitude that people will protect their mores with gun violence is pretty tone deaf in 2023. Way too many children have died because of gun violence.
I don’t support censorship, so I don’t think his video needs to be censored or yanked. But I don’t think Sheryl Crow is wrong, either.
And I don’t support censorship, especially of artists. There are some messages that should be squelched for being “fighting words” that have no positive effects on society. But I truly believe those messages should be few and far between. I will admit, I haven’t seen Mr. Aldean’s video, mainly because the lyrics of the song have already turned me off. Maybe I’ll try to view it when I finish writing this piece. Edited to add: Watching it now…
My friend continued to be an apologist for Mr. Aldean, complete with laughing smilies…
…agree to disagree. I’m not sure why people feel it’s necessary to try and cancel him it’s ridiculous. People have their whittle feelings hurt over a song I’ve been seeing the lyrics to WAP being compared and for the record, that song doesn’t offend me either. The attempt to cancel Jason is backfiring in them though. We do do things different I suppose. The rioters who were out to cause violence and crime (not protesters) wouldn’t come to these small towns; because they would get their asses handed to them but it’s not promoting violence. I just find it ridiculously sad that people have to attempt to cancel anything that doesn’t agree with them. His video is powerful actually. At any rate, we’re all entitled to our own opinions because we live in the USA i know you don’t right now)
Okay… but saying that rioters would “have their asses handed to them” is kind of a violent thought, isn’t it? And who gets to decide what constitutes peaceful protesting and what constitutes “rioting”? What defines that behavior? Why are people more concerned about protecting property than preserving life– of the already born, that is?
I dare say that most people who would “riot” for Black Lives Matter would rather do so in larger cities, anyway. Why would a bunch of rioters and looters come to a small town, where there’s not much to steal or damage, except for maybe at Walmart?
Anyway, this was my response:
I grew up in southern Virginia among lots of country folks. I do understand the mindset and the issues. I don’t actually care about Jason Aldean one way or the other, nor do I support “cancel culture”. I am just tired of gun violence and macho bravado. It’s never been so bad as it is today.
Like I said, I grew up in a rural southern town. Never had problems with guns when I was growing up. In those days, we didn’t have violent maniacs killing kids by the dozens because they’re mad at the world.I don’t support censorship at all. People should be allowed to make up their own minds about almost all issues. As far as I’m concerned, Sheryl Crow was expressing an opinion, which we should all be allowed to do. You don’t have to agree, and I would never demand that of you.
As for my being out of the USA… I have to say, it’s been very enlightening. I am glad I have had the experience. It’s changed my life, and my perspective on a lot of things. I think more Americans should live abroad for awhile. It’s educational on many levels, and in many cases, doesn’t necessarily end with more liberalism. However, I used to be very conservative, so that doesn’t apply in my case.
One of the many reasons Bill and I have continued to live in Germany is because of the violence in the United States right now. I didn’t really see it when I was living there, even though mass shootings were a problem then. I remember feeling horrified when a Greek woman we met in our last town said that the United States is “too dangerous” for her to consider moving there. But now that I’ve been away for awhile, I can totally see why people in Europe think the United States is full of gun toting lunatics. I think when we do go back, it will be very difficult for me to adjust.
I don’t think a song that promotes the message that someone who misbehaves or does something “disrespectful” in the eyes of the locals will “get their asses handed to them” is sending a peaceful, non-violent message. Even if you argue the song is about being “respectful” of small town values and obeying law enforcement (who sometimes don’t behave lawfully themselves), the message is sent across with a belligerent, threatening, violent tone. That kind of message riles up people on the right wing, who are so scared of “liberals” who aren’t like them, demanding equality for everyone.
So many of these conservative folks are, quite simply, ignorant. They listen to songs like “Try That in a Small Town” and watch Fox News instead of reading books, exposing themselves to other cultures, or educating themselves on topics as basic as the difference between communism and capitalism.
Then, as they listen to Trump’s sensationalist dog whistling, they miss things like the plans by conservative groups to expand presidential power– if Trump wins, that is– and make states’ rights obsolete. They miss the reporting on ideas like overhauling the Constitution so that the country is more fascist, and run by one leader, instead of having checks and balances. They don’t consider the fact that some states’ attorneys general are wanting to track women who leave their states for abortion care. And it doesn’t dawn on them that some of these policies are awfully similar to what used to happen in the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries, back in the not so distant past. They are the antithesis of promoting freedom.
It doesn’t occur to some of these small minded folks from small towns that promoting people like Donald Trump and his champions will eventually mean less freedom for EVERYONE… including them. Because Trump just wants money and power, and to stay in office until he dies. When that happens, his cronies will take over, only some of them will be younger, smarter, and even more charismatic than Trump is.
Come on! Trump incited riots on January 6, 2021. Where were the “good old boys” who were “raised up right” then? Oh yeah… a lot of them took up arms, came to Washington, DC, and screamed about wanting to hang Mike Pence for not doing Trump’s bidding and overturning the 2020 Presidential election! Some of them stormed into our Capitol building and smeared actual human shit on the walls, took selfies in people’s offices, beat up police officers, and– stole stuff! Did Mr. Aldean include January 6th footage in his anthem about respecting small town communities? I didn’t notice it, if he did. Frankly, the violence on January 6 and the prospect of it happening again worries me a lot more than some businesses being burned down or looted over Black Lives Matter… although I don’t support destroying other people’s property, either.
I currently live in what could be considered a suburb of a major German city. Here, we have a good community, too. But our community involves drinking wine, having weekly markets, encouraging our neighbors to buy and plant “bee bomb wildflowers” to help feed bees, concerts, and art shows. I don’t know anyone here who needs a gun to show support for this community. We have a local official who is transgender and cares very much about the history and preservation of our town. While there might be people here with private prejudices, I haven’t noticed a lot of openly hateful behaviors toward the Muslims who live in this town. We’ve got a very nice community here– but it doesn’t involve violence or “tough talk” toward outsiders. Even as an American who speaks little German, I have felt very welcome. 😉
No, it’s not perfect… and I know there are issues with racism and other social ills in Germany. But it’s so different than life in the United States. Frankly, I think it’s MUCH better. I don’t miss much about living in my homeland, although I do miss some of my friends and family members. I really do wish some of the good people I know who think the American way is the best way could come over here and experience things for awhile. I think some of them might change their minds… or at least have more of a perspective as to why so many people find Americans totally insufferable.
Anyway… I can see why Jason Aldean’s song resonates with many people. A lot of people enjoy testosterone fueled power anthems, especially when they are considered “patriotic”. And no, I wouldn’t go so far as to say he should be “canceled” or censored. Music is a form of expression, and I think people should be allowed to use it for that purpose, even if I don’t agree with the sentiments expressed.
But… I gotta say, Janis Ian was right to share this 1968 era gem from Mad Magazine:
I just want to live in a place where we don’t have to threaten to kill or kick the shit out of people who offend us, even if the impulse is sometimes understandable. Also… sometimes cops do get it wrong. Case in point, Jason…
So… those are my thoughts on Jason Aldean’s song, and the controversy that is surrounding it. Honestly, I just long for a much more moderate America, where people are free to be themselves without fear of violence or oppression. And I don’t think writing threatening, belligerent songs that glorify guns and fighting is the way to achieve that end. Just my opinion, of course.
Incidentally, I just learned that Aldean didn’t even write this song… and apparently, songwriting isn’t one of his skills or talents.