You never know when the next battle will break out in the never-ending culture war that has had America split down the middle for the past decade or so.
This week’s skirmish involves Jason Aldean, Sheryl Crow, a group of angry Twitter users, and a song that was released in May.
Let us explain:
In case you haven’t heard, Aldean’s song “Try That In a Small Town” is creating quite a bit of controversy right now.
The song was released earlier this year, but “Small Town” gained mainstream attention this week after the video’s release resulted in a huge uproar.
The song’s lyrics have drawn a serious backlash from critics who say it glorifies politically motivated violence and even promotes lynching.
“Curse a cop, spit in his face / Stomp on the flag and light it up / Yeah you think you’re tough / Well try it in a small town / See how far you go down the road,” Aldean sings in the clip below.
“Around here, we take care of our own / You cross that line, it won’t take you long / For you to find out, I recommend you don’t / Try that in a small town.”
Many have noted that the video was filmed at the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee, the site where an 18-year-old black man was lynched in 1927.
Gun violence activist Shannon Watts tweeted that the song is “an ode to a town at sunset, suggesting people get beaten up or shot for expressing free speech. She also hints that weapons are being confiscated, the penalty for which is apparently death.”
Singer Sheryl Crow entered the debate Tuesday and condemned Aldean for trying to deepen the divide between Americans with differing views.
“I’m from a small town,” Crow tweeted.
“Even people in small towns are fed up with the violence. There is nothing small town or American about promoting violence,” she continued.
“You should know this better than anyone who has survived a mass shooting. This is not American or a small town.”
“As Tennessee legislators, we have an obligation to condemn Jason Aldean’s egregious song calling for racist violence,” Tennessee state representative Justin Jones wrote on his social media pages.
“What a shameful vision of armed extremism and vigilantism. We will continue to call for common sense gun laws that protect ALL of our children and communities.”
The controversial video has since been removed from CMT’s rotation.
Aldean was quick to respond to the criticism, denying that there was any racist or violent intent behind the song or video.
“While I can try to respect others to have their own interpretation of a song set to music, this one goes too far,” the singer tweeted.
“In the last 24 hours, I have been accused of releasing a pro-lynching song (a song that has been out since May) and was the subject of comparison that I (direct quote) was not very satisfied with the national BLM protests. These references are not only without merit, they are dangerous,” he added.
“There’s not a single lyric in the song that references or points to race, and there’s not a single video clip that isn’t actual news material.”
Aldean continued: “As many have pointed out, I was present on Route 91 where so many lost their lives, and our community recently suffered another heartbreaking tragedy.
“NO ONE, including me, wants to continue to see meaningless headlines or broken families.”
Aldean was performing onstage when 60 people were killed and more than 400 injured outside the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino in Las Vegas in 2017, the largest mass shooting in United States history.
The singer is no stranger to political controversy, and it was only last year that Jason’s wife, Brittany Aldean, was accused of making transphobic comments on social media.
That situation led to a dispute between the Villagers and Maren Morris, who criticized Brittany’s alleged bigotry.
The debate over Aldean’s song seems to have skyrocketed its popularity, with TMZ reporting that “Try That In a Small Town” is now number one on iTunes.