Jason Aldean’s latest music video, which pays homage to American small-town communities, has sparked controversy due to the inclusion of protest footage from non-American sources. As the video for “Try That In a Small Town” received praise from some conservatives, it also faced criticism for featuring scenes from protests outside the United States, including Canada and Ukraine. TikTok users and activists have shed light on using stock footage and non-American clips, leading to a debate over the video’s accuracy and underlying messaging.
Discovering the Misleading Footage:
Content creator and activist, Destinee Stark, unveiled several instances in her TikTok posts where stock footage was incorporated into the video. One clip showed a woman flipping off protesters, but it was later identified as being from Germany, not America. Another footage seemed to originate from a 2013 protest in Ukraine, further challenging the video’s portrayal of events in the US.
Response from Aldean and Concerns:
In response to the backlash, Jason Aldean took to Twitter and asserted that all the video clips were authentic news footage. However, investigations by Rolling Stone revealed that some clips were, in fact, from Canada, with one being traced back to the 2010 G20 protests in Toronto. Critics argue that the video’s setting at a Tennessee courthouse, where a Black man was lynched in 1927, raises concerns about its promotion of violence and subtle references to sundown towns.
Addressing Controversial Elements:
Amidst the uproar, Aldean clarified that his song is not “pro-lynching” and refuted claims of racial undertones, stating that the song encapsulates his fond memories of the community he grew up in, Macon, Georgia. The song is said to emphasize small-town camaraderie rather than promote violence or racism.
The Impact on Country Music Television (CMT):
The controversy eventually led to the music video’s removal from CMT’s rotation. While the company has not made any official statements, the decision highlights the sensitivity surrounding the video’s content.
The discovery of non-American protest footage in Jason Aldean’s music video has sparked a broader conversation about accuracy and messaging in artistic expression. The issue serves as a reminder of how crucial it is to depict actual events and consider the historical setting accurately. As the music industry navigates such matters, it calls for a more nuanced approach to storytelling through music videos, ensuring that artistic freedom aligns with authenticity and sensitivity.