A video by country singer Jason Aldean was pulled by Country Music Television after critics called it offensive and racist. Some Aldean fans have responded by calling for the “Bud Light treatment” of CMT and falsely claiming that, in solidarity, singer Luke Bryan removed his own videos from the channel. The bogus claim about Bryan originated on a satirical website.
Country singer Jason Aldean struck a discordant note with the July 14 release of a video of his song “Try That in a Small Town,” which includes a scene shot in front of a Columbia, Tennessee, courthouse where a Black teenager was lynched in 1927 and where a race riot occurred in 1946.
Aldean’s song and video — which shows images of Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 and demonstrations in other countries — warns that “city” crimes and disrespect for police or the flag won’t be tolerated in a small town. “Well, try that in a small town. See how far ya make it down the road,” Aldean says in the song.
The Country Music Television channel, CMT, stopped airing the video on July 17.
Aldean responded to the criticism of his video in a tweet on July 18, saying, in part: “In the past 24 hours I have been accused of releasing a pro-lynching song (a song that has been out since May) and was subject to the comparison that I (direct quote) was not too pleased with the nationwide BLM protests. These references are not only meritless, but dangerous. There is not a single lyric in the song that references race or points to it- and there isn’t a single video clip that isn’t real news footage -and while I can try and respect others to have their own interpretation of a song with music- this one goes too far.”
In response to CMT’s action, some of Aldean’s peers have expressed support for the singer, and former President Donald Trump called him “a fantastic guy who just came out with a great new song” in a post on Truth Social.
But posts on social media have also fabricated claims about support for Aldean.
A July 23 post on Facebook claimed, “Luke Bryan Pulls His Videos From CMT: ‘Time For The Bud Light Treatment,'” referring to the conservative backlash against Bud Light following the beer company’s brief partnership with a transgender performer.
Another Facebook post carried the same headline and claimed, “Standing in solidarity with his good friend Jason Aldean, Bryan notified CMT that he was pulling their license to use his material effective immediately.”
But there’s no evidence that Bryan, an award-winning country music star and judge on ABC’s “American Idol,” has done any such thing.
The claim about Bryan originated on a satirical website, Uplifting Today, which explains in a footnote to the story that the site “produces news satire and parody for global publication.” The social media posts, however, aren’t labeled as satire.
Billboard magazine reported that the posts about Bryan — as well as some claims about other country singers’ support for Aldean — are false. A CMT representative told Billboard that Bryan has not pulled his videos from the channel.
Update, July 26: Snippets of a news clip of BLM protests from 2020 shown in Aldean’s video have been removed, the Washington Post reported on July 26. The production company that made the video did not respond to questions about when and why the video was edited, the Post said.
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Albeck-Ripka, Livia. “Jason Alden Video for ‘Try That in a Small Town’ Pulled Amid Backlash.” New York Times. Updated 24 Jul 2023.
Billboard. “Luke Bryan.” Accessed 24 Jul 2023.
Carballo, Rebecca. “The History of the Lynching Site Where Jason Aldean Filmed a Music Video.” New York Times. 21 Jul 2023.
Getahun, Hannah. “TikTok sleuths discover Jacob Aldean’s music video of protest footage features multiple clips from demonstrations outside the US.” Insider. 22 Jul 2023.
Jones, Brea. “Bogus Claim Targets Bud Light Partnership with Transgender Influencer.” FactCheck.org. 14 Apr 2023.
Rep. Justin Jones @brotherjones_ “As Tennessee lawmakers, we have an obligation to condemn Jason Aldean’s heinous song calling for racist violence. What a shameful vision of gun extremism and vigilantism. We will continue to call for common sense gun laws, that protect ALL our children and communities.” Twitter. 18 Jul 2023.
Lamb, Chris. “America’s first post-World War II race riot led to the near-lynching of Thurgood Marshall.” Washington Post. 25 Feb 2021.
Newman, Melinda. “Luke Bryan Did Not Ask for CMT to Pull His Videos in Support of Jason Aldean After Satire Site Story Goes Viral.” Billboard. 21 Jul 2023.
Nicholson, Jessica. “Cody Johnson Offers Support to Jason Aldean Amid ‘Try That in a Small Town’ Controversy.” Billboard. 23 Jul 2023.
Sherman, Maria. “CMT pulls Jason Aldean music video that was filmed at a lynching site.” Associated Press. 20 Jul 2023.
Uplifting Today. “Luke Bryan pulls his videos from CMT over Jason Aldean debacle: ‘Folks, it’s time for the Bud Light treatment.'” 21 Jul 2023.
Variety. “CMT pulls Jason Aldean’s music video after accusations of being ‘pro-lynching.'” CBS News. 18 Jul 2023.