FITSNews recently published a hit piece by guest columnist Joel Sawyer about country musician Jason Aldean and his new song, “Try That In A Small Town.” I found several things I disagree with in Sawyer’s piece. Some of them were due to his straw man criticisms, others I attribute to my personal perspective as a Southerner.
I won’t include or address issues he states to be factual — there were many — or minor things like his criticism of country music “these days.” But here are the salient refutations/ reactions …
Mr. Sawyer: I’m a conservative, and two ideals I hold in higher regard than almost any other are respect for the rule of law, including due process, and protecting free speech – even speech I might view as unpatriotic and disgusting like burning an American flag.
Me: I too believe in the rule of law and free speech, but the law recognizes a concept called “fighting words.” In my world, burning the American flag qualifies as such. That flag represents the hundreds of thousands of Americans who’ve died defending our nation… our nation of freedom, liberty, and opportunity… a place where hard work, creativity, and smarts can result in untold success. Half of America views Old Glory as sacred… I do—it’s the flag I served under.
If someone burned an American flag in front of me, one of two things would happen: a) I would kick his ass. b) He would kick my ass. As I’m old and out of shape, odds are I’d get my ass kicked — but I can promise he’d know he was in a fight. Good luck finding a jury in a South Carolina that would unanimously convict me.
Mr. Sawyer: I find it baffling that anyone who hails from a conservative political tradition would find either vigilantism or violent suppression of free speech laudable or song-worthy, but I suppose that’s the world we live in today.
Me: For most of my life, I’d tend to agree with Mr. Sawyer’s comment about vigilantism, but not so much anymore. Police are no longer enforcing the law in big Blue cities, and innocent people are being sucker punched, carjacked, and pushed in front of subway trains—stores across the nation are being looted into bankruptcy, with nary an arrest in sight. Hundreds of thousands of BLM and Antifa morons spent an entire summer acting like savages—rioting, looting, burning stores, assaulting bystanders, and shooting cops.
Mr. Aldean is correct in the way he addresses that kind of animalistic violence: Try that in a small town. See how far you get. You might get off with just a beating, if you’re fortunate to have your violent crime witnessed only by a pacifist.
Mr. Sawyer: So while I find the song hackneyed, fake, and anathema to my values, the video accompanying it is absolutely contemptible.
Me: I’ll address this below.
Mr. Sawyer: Let’s start with the location, the site of the infamous lynching of Henry Choate in 1927. I use the words “infamous lynching” purposefully, because of the thousands of lynchings that occurred between the end of Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Act, many of those names have been lost to history, simply disappearing, while others have certainly been lost to the public consciousness.
Henry Choate is not one of those names. He was accused of raping a white teenage girl, without evidence. The girl herself did not identify him as her attacker.
Now, I’m not suggesting for a second the choice was made intentionally.
Me: Mr. Sawyer writes at length about the location chosen, and he is dead right: It was a horrible decision… a decision no doubt made a clueless locations scout who—I can assure you—isn’t on a “temporary leave of absence” like the Bud Light brand manager. As the old saying goes, “he’ll never work in this business again.” I count myself as at least “informed” in this area, having been a locations scout myself.
Mr. Sawyer: I’m suggesting that it was made out of completely avoidable ignorance and a raging case of tone-deafness – as evidenced by the production company’s response, in which they noted among other things that the Hannah Montana movie had been filmed there.
Me: Not everyone is “awake” enough to consider racism in every decision they make. If someone shot a music video at the Battery in Charleston, should they be berated because the Confederacy defended Charleston there?
If they shot a video outside our state capitol, should they worry about offending Southerners — because the war criminal William T. Sherman looted, raped, and burned his way through Columbia, with accounts of his men firebombing groups of women and children?
How far back does a production company need to research? How many perspectives do they need to ponder? Virtually every inch of our nation was stolen from some American Indian tribe … so where do you go to find a place that doesn’t represent an offense to someone?
(Click to view)
Mr. Sawyer: Jason Aldean didn’t pick the location. He doesn’t own that decision, but he owns his response. He could have said, “Yeah, we absolutely should have picked a different location given the racial violence that occurred where we filmed.”
Me: I agree, to some extent — but the Left is never satisfied. If he apologized for the location, the woke mob wouldn’t stop shrieking until he apologized for the entire song, then publicly renounced his white privilege. They would scream to the heavens that, “Even Jason Aldean thinks his own video is racist!”
Mr. Sawyer: Predictably, he didn’t apologize and instead doubled down, railing on “cancel culture” during the Riverbend Music Festival in Cincinnati. How he kept a straight face complaining about being “cancelled” – while on stage in front of thousands of fans – is, I suppose, a testament to his range as a performer.
Me: The Left sure as hell attempted to cancel him … but couldn’t pull it off. They tried, and in doing so made his song the #1 song in America. Much like the Bud Light and Target debacles, the Left quickly went silent on this song, realizing their whining was simply stoking the fire and raising awareness of how moronic they are.
Mr. Aldean didn’t get cancelled. Why not? Because he stood up like a man, not a syrup company CEO who changed the name of his product — despite the fact it held an 80 percent market share among black Americans. The kind of people who listen to Jason Aldean are tired of the bedwetting crowd, and were thrilled to see patriots win and the professional victims lose. It doesn’t happen often.
Mr. Sawyer: But perhaps the worst part of the entire video is the accompanying imagery, featured in B-roll and projected on the courthouse behind Aldean and his band…
Me: I assume that Mr. Sawyer is insinuating the reason it’s the “worst part” is because he believes the news footage shown of the BLM/ Antifa riots is racist.
Well, I hate to admit it … but this is so hilariously delicious to write: If you watch the video, not a single identifiable black American is shown. Every shot held long enough for the viewer to identify the person’s race is … you got it, WHITE. Watch for yourself, with the pause button on your remote at the ready.
This means, of course, people like Mr. Sawyer are assuming the violence is being perpetrated by blacks. Why would that be? Is it racism on their part?
In reality, I don’t think so, although it is funny to point out. The truth is they watched TV during the BLM Summer of Love, witnessing hour after hour of blacks rioting.
Note: Left wing news outlets have breathlessly shrieked that the video was edited “this week” after the “public outcry.” I recommend you do as I did, and research this claim. To no sane person’s surprise, there are no side-by-side comparisons of the two videos — the “original” seems to have “vanished” from the Internet … where nothing ever goes away or can be hidden.
In the one case I found where a news outlet attempted to “show” the edits, they used freeze frames of the scenes they claim were taken out … none of which show a black person, either. The vague descriptions of the “edits” claimed “images of the BLM riots” were removed. None say “images of black rioters” were removed.
They have also noted the video is “six seconds shorter” than its original version. In the original version there was a clip approximately five seconds long that showed soundbites of a news story about a farmer who was injured, and his neighbors pitched in to harvest his crops.
It is a dead solid perfect example of gaslighting.
(Click to view)
Mr. Sawyer: … as they lip-sync the song.
Me: This petty dig gave me a good chuckle — except for live performance videos, who doesn’t lip-sync in music videos? They are dealing with a director and production team that spends thirty minutes preparing for every story-boarded shot. I’ve produced high-budget videos, and I can tell you it takes hours to shoot a video like that — should they perform the song start to finish 50 times?
Mr. Sawyer: Like with the song’s lyrics, the video conflates acts of violence and property destruction (which again, for the record, are bad things that everyone should be against) with constitutionally protected protest …
Me: There’s wasn’t anyone acting under the “constitutionally protected” rights of free speech and the right to protest. It was a bunch of animals burning, looting, rioting, and attempting to murder people. Mr. Sawyer’s comment here is the definition of a non sequitur, but I admit working the word conflate into the article is pretty awesome.
Mr. Sawyer: … much of which was centered on the Black Lives Matter movement after the murder of George Floyd.
Mr. Sawyer: So to start, let’s dispense with the idea that there is anything authentic about this song, or about Aldean as it relates to this song. Though to his credit he has written a number of his own hits, this isn’t one of them. Attesting to Coe’s prescience regarding country hits needing to check certain boxes, this Aldean song was written by a team of four songwriters, and Aldean isn’t among them.
Me: The beloved Beyoncé regularly has multiple writers for her songs, and some hits have up to 30 producers listed. I hasten to add there are dozens of millionaires in Nashville who’ve never recorded a note of music — they’re called songwriters, not performers.
Mr. Sawyer: As for lionizing small town America, I’m a proud small town boy myself (Lyman, South Carolina, population hovering around 1000 when I was a kid). I’m not sure which small town he’s talking about in the song, but Aldean hails from Macon, Georgia – a city bigger than literally any city in my state. Whatever this city boy is trying to sell me, I ain’t buying it. Momma and Daddy taught us small town boys to not get suckered by city slickers cosplaying as one of us.
Me: Does this mean every rapper singing about drugs, rape, and murder, have all those things under their belt? They all emerged from the ‘hood? And if they didn’t, they’re posers?
Let’s take a look at the lyrics from Ice-T’s song Cop Killer:
I got my black shirt on
I got my black gloves on
I got my ski mask on
This shit’s been too long
I got my twelve gauge sawed-off
I got my headlights turned off
I’m ’bout to bust some shots off
I’m ’bout to dust some cops off
I’m a cop killer, better you than me
Cop killer, fuck police brutality
Cop killer, I know your family’s grieving (fuck ’em)
Cop killer, but tonight we get even, haha
I got my brain on hype
Tonight will be your night
I got this long-assed knife
And your neck looks just right
Now my adrenaline’s pumpin’
I got my stereo bumpin’
I’m ’bout to kill me somethin’
A pig stopped me for nothin’
Is Mr. Ice-T disingenuous because he’s never killed a cop? What if Snoop Dogg covered the song? Does that make him even worse, because he didn’t write it OR kill a cop?
Mr. Sawyer: Digging into the lyrics of the song, it’s hard to oversimplify the pablum being pedaled here, but at the risk of doing so, the song is fundamentally about vigilante justice.
Me: Yes, it is. Good. We need more of it, because politicians and law enforcement agencies refuse to do their jobs.
Mr. Sawyer: The lyrics mention a litany of behaviors that Aldean believes wouldn’t fly in a small town, ranging from actual crimes like carjacking (note: to be clear, crimes are bad) to Constitutionally protected free speech like yelling at a police officer or burning an American flag.
Me: Agreed. I would suggest that, should Mr. Sawyer want to find out just how protected those rights are, he return home to Lyman, S.C. and burn a flag during the Fourth of July parade, then scream in the face of the cop who walks up … and see how far he gets.
Americans are free to say any stupid thing they want to … but they aren’t free from the consequences of doing so.
Mr. Sawyer: Aldean’s lyrics (I’m going to call them his lyrics because he sang them, even though he didn’t write them) seem to intentionally conflate crime and protected speech into a weird mishmash, while suggesting that the answer to dealing with both is “a gun that my granddad gave me.”
Me: Nah … he isn’t talking about murder via his grandaddy’s shotgun. Just an ass beating by the locals.
Mr. Sawyer: Weirdly, no footage from the manifestly un-American January 6 riots – where property was destroyed, police were beaten, and Congress was impeded from doing its job – was featured in Aldean’s “bad things” montage. I’d personally like to get back to an America where those criminals would be universally rebuked by both sides of the political aisle, but I digress.
Me: That’s fair, although January 6, 2021 lasted about five hours, no one torched the building, and the only gun fired was by a police officer who murdered an unarmed Ashley Babbitt — and he was subsequently exonerated without an investigation, then publicly called himself “a hero.”
Mr. Sawyer: Aldean’s initial response to the controversy was very telling, and as a former public relations flak myself, I did appreciate the sleight of hand his PR team pulls here: “There is not a single lyric in the song that references race or points to it.”
Me: There’s not. It’s not necessary… he was talking about all violent criminals. Again, we’re getting back to the supposition the black race is synonymous with violence.
Mr. Sawyer: Fair enough, the lyrics don’t – but there’s a problem. The “bad stuff” shown in the video is a multiracial mix of white, black and other minority faces.
Me: Again … lol. Watch the video. Everyone with an identifiable race is white. Oh, there are plenty of minorities, no doubt — but the producers chose scenes where minorities were masked, wearing gloves, or disguised by hoodies.
I wonder if they did this just to troll the Left?
Mr. Sawyer: But when the video closes with a montage of Americana from a small town that Aldean isn’t from – a family playing flag football, old veterans looking up approvingly at the flag, a farmer surveying his field – there is not a single black face to be found. There are a couple of silhouetted figures for whom the race is indistinguishable. But among those who can be seen, the only black people in the video are doing bad, un-American things, and no black people are doing good, pro-America things.
Me: Agreed. Failing to include small-town black Americans was a stupid mistake. However, it didn’t seem to bother a lot of small-town blacks. Maybe click on this link to learn more:
Mr. Sawyer: Does that mean Jason Aldean is a racist? I have no idea. I can’t look into his heart and know one way or another. But to accompany that song with that video, regardless of what’s in his heart, he deserves every bit of smoke he’s catching for it – especially since he’s refusing to acknowledge any of the readily apparent context of combining those lyrics with those images.
Me: Watch the video … maybe view it in slow-motion.
Mr. Sawyer: One thing I can say for certain that Aldean is not is a victim. By resorting to the all-too-familiar playbook of whingeing about cancel culture, he’ll cash in, likely becoming wealthier than ever before, and even further removed from a life resembling that of the actual small-town Americans who do not see through his chicanery.
Me: Like the Obamas? Al Sharpton? Jessie Jackson? Don Lemon? Oprah? Angela Bassett? Alicia Keys? Woopie Goldberg? Raven Symone? Samuel L. Jackson? Don Cheadle? Men and women who’ve been embraced and made rich by Americans, but won’t shut up about “the man be keepin’ me down?”
What could be more priceless than the hero couple — Barack and Michelle — moving to the whitest community in America (and building a home that was supposed to have been destroyed by climate change four years ago)?
Country music has often been described as “three chords and the truth.” That’s certainly the case with Jason Aldean’s “Try that in a small town.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Prioleau Alexander is a freelance writer, focusing mostly on politics and non-fiction humor. He is the author of two books: ‘You Want Fries With That?’ and ‘Dispatches Along the Way.’ Both are available on Amazon. He hopes to have another title published soon, but that would require his agent actually doing his job, so it may be awhile. Oh, and if you want to see his preferred bio pic? Click here …
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