Country Music Says No to Cancel Culture
It happened in a moment of time, and the fall was swift and severe. One day, Morgan Wallen was a famous country music star. The next day, he was largely deplatformed. What, exactly, caused his sudden fall? After a night out partying with his friends, Wallen was videotaped outside his own house using profanities, including the n-word. He had crossed the forbidden line. He was now an untouchable.
According to the Daily Wire,
Wallen’ music was pulled by Cumulus Media. The country music heavyweight sent a directive to all of its 400-plus stations to remove Wallen’s songs from their playlists “effective immediately,” Variety reported.
iHeartRadio, Entercom, cable network CMT, satellite service SiriusXM, and streaming service Pandora have all also removed the 27-year-old’s songs. Variety noted that Wallen’s music is not currently appearing on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, too. Nashville-based label Big Loud has suspended their contract with Wallen “indefinitely.”
Additionally, as reported by the New York Post, Wallen “has been disqualified from performing at or receiving any recognition during the upcoming Academy of Country Music Awards.”
A Tarnished Reputation
Talk about swift justice. Talk about decisive action. One wrong word, one time, and Wallen was suddenly out, despite the fact that he quickly apologized, writing, “I’m embarrassed and sorry. I used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back. There are no excuses to use this type of language, ever. I want to sincerely apologize for using the word. I promise to do better.”
And he backed his words with actions, donating “$500,000 to the Black Music Action Coalition and other Black-serving organizations.”
Unfortunately, in today’s cancel culture climate, there is no redemption, no forgiveness, no room for repentance and contrition and restitution. One strike, and you’re out — or, at the least, tarnished for life. And as wrong as his actions were — obviously — he was drunk and apparently meant his comment in jest. Shouldn’t his sober apology carry weight?
No Room for Personal Growth
This did not sit well with Wallen’s sister Ashlyn, who wrote:
There are only 3 things you should ever do about a mistake: admit it, learn from it, and don’t repeat it. Cancel culture is the worst thing that has come out of our digital world. It leaves no room for forgiveness and growth, in turn, leaving no opportunity for individuals who have made mistakes to learn from them. If you make a mistake or do something stupid then apologize, correct your mistake, and learn through personal growth.
The world we live in thrives off drama and bringing others down. I refuse to be part of that,” her post continued. “If my family or my friends make a mistake and apologize, I’m going to listen, accept it, and expect them to learn from their mistake. Someone who is truly sorry should be forgiven — not continuously bashed. Your past mistakes do not define you; it is how you choose to move forward that does.
Don’t We Desire Mercy When We Make Mistakes?
Isn’t that something all of us have learned in the course of life? Haven’t we all made regrettable mistakes, learning from them, asking forgiveness from those we offended, and seeking to make things right? Haven’t many of us become better people as a result — more sensitive, more caring, more humble, more genuine?
For those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus, we are called to a higher standard, a standard of redemption and mercy and forgiveness and second and third chances (and more). And for all of us who want to be decent human beings, we must not emulate the culture that cancels and shames and silences. Instead, we must be better than it. And that means being people who welcome repentance, who are quick to forgive (from the heart), and who show the same mercy to others that we wish to receive ourselves.
The No. 1 Spot
The bad news is that there really was an attempt to cancel Morgan Wallen. The good news is that country music fans said no to him being cancelled.
First, as reported by Variety Magazine on December 30, 2021:
Country star Morgan Wallen is ending 2021 in a place few would have expected to find him a few months ago: in the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s R&B/hip-hop chart. “Broadway Girls,” his collaboration with rapper Lil Durk, came out just before Christmas and ascended this week to the top of the chart that perhaps more than any other is looked to as a signal of what’s dominating popular Black culture — an unlikely finish to a year in which Wallen was all but banned from the airwaves for months after saying the N-word.
Who saw this coming?
Album of the Year
Second, on Monday night, Wallen won the award for album of the year by the Academy of Country Music and their annual ACM Awards night. As CNN noted, “Morgan Wallen was removed from the Academy of Country Music Awards ballot last year after being caught on video using a racial slur. This year, he had a big night.”
Accordingly, in his acceptance speech, Wallen thanked those who had shown him “grace along the way.”
That’s the way to push back, country music!
The fact is that all of us have blown it on some level in the past, and we will probably blow it on some level in the future.
When that happens, let’s take it on the chin. Let’s not make excuses. Let’s apologize where necessary and make things right. And let’s move forward, embraced by a culture that has learned to forgive rather than cancel.
Forgiveness is a very powerful force.
(Some of the content of this article was excerpted from Michael L. Brown, The Silencing of the Lambs: The Ominous Rise of Cancel Culture and How We Can Overcome.
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Revival Or We Die: A Great Awakening Is Our Only Hope. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.