Jason Aldean Addresses ‘Cancel Culture’ Live Onstage After ‘Long Week’ [Watch]
Jason Aldean addressed "cancel culture" and the controversy surrounding his new song and video during a concert on Friday night (July 21), thanking his fans for rallying "like I've never seen before."
Aldean performed at Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Friday, less than a week CMT dropped his new video for "Try That in a Small Town" amid a public outcry that accuses the song and video of racism and promoting vigilante violence.
The resulting controversy has been the subject of intense news coverage and debate online. Fellow stars, TV pundits, journalists and even former President Donald Trump have weighed in on the topic over the last week along partisan lines.
In the audience-shot video below, Aldean tells the audience it's been a "long-ass week," adding, "I’ve seen a lot of stuff suggesting I’m this, suggesting I’m that..."
When the crowd begins to boo, Aldean continues, "Hey, here’s the thing. Here’s the thing. Here’s one thing I feel; I feel like everyone’s entitled to their opinion. You can think something all you want to, that doesn’t mean it’s true, right? So, what I am is a proud American. I'm proud to be from here.
"I love our country. I wanna see it restored to what it once was before all this bulls--t started happening to us. I love my country, I love my family, and I will do anything to protect that. I can tell you that right now," he adds, causing his fans to join in a chant of, "USA! USA! USA!"
"This day and age, cancel culture is a thing. If people don't like what you say, they try to make sure that they can cancel you, which means try and ruin your life, ruin everything," Aldean states. "...One thing I saw this week was a bunch of country music fans that can see through a lot of the bulls--t, all right? I saw country music fans rally like I’ve never seen before, and it was pretty badass to watch, I gotta say. So thank you guys so much."
"Try That in a Small Town" features lyrical imagery that relies on broad generalizations about people who live in small towns and elsewhere. Critics have decried lines that they say imply a threat to outsiders.
"Got a gun that my granddad gave me / They say one day they're gonna round up / Well, that sh-t might fly in the city, good luck / Try that in a small town / See how far ya make it down the road / You cross that line, it won't take long for you to find out / I recommend you don't / Try that in a small town," Aldean sings.
The song has been in release since May, but the public outcry didn't begin in earnest until the video dropped. The clip features footage of crowds protesting police brutality during the pandemic, including burning American flags and confronting police. It intercuts that news footage with shots of Aldean in front of the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tenn., where a mob hung the body of an 18-year-old Black man named Henry Choate after lynching and murdering him in 1927.
The production company responsible for the video has denied any ill intent in choosing the location, citing other, less controversial projects that have also filmed in Columbia.
Aldean previously responded to the controversy in a statement via social media: