CMT faces backlash after releasing a tweet promoting the end to gun violence
A pro-gun control tweet from Country Music Television (CMT) has backfired on the organisation as the network is set to host the one of the biggest awards show for the genre: the CMT Music Awards.
A furious reaction broke out among country music fans last week after the Country Music Television Twitter account announced its support to end gun violence and encouraged everyone to wear orange in honour of the movement.
“We’re (virtually) wearing orange today in support National Gun Violence Awareness Day and to call attention to the more than 100 lives that are lost every day to gun violence,” the organisation tweeted.
The tweet included a picture with the statistic that “every day more than 100 Americans are killed with guns” – a fact that came from a CDC report analysing gun violence in the US from 2015 to 2019.
Responses to the tweet showed a majority of followers reacting negatively to CMT’s support of National Gun Violence Awareness Day, including some threatening to boycott the awards show, scheduled for Wednesday night, amid the organisation’s support.
“Sorry to have run across this on the day of the show. Looks like I’ve seen my last CMT Awards show as well as watching CMT. I’ll continue to follow country music (especially the songwriters); but I’ll listen to & watch country music elsewhere, mostly live in Nashville, it appears,” one Twitter user wrote.
Another person claimed that the tweet from CMT lost them a majority of their viewers.
“You just lost 75% of your viewers. I for one, will not ever watch any station who champions any campaign against the 2nd Amendment, which is what CMT just did. You’d think they would know their audiance [sic], but you put awake idiots in charge, and you get stupidity, ”one Twitter user wrote.
A Los Angeles Times A survey of the 100 direct first responders to the tweet found that 95% of them were against what CMT was promoting and accused the network of going against its grassroots base.
“Great job of alienating your audience,” wrote one commentator.
The independent contacted CMT for comment.
It’s unclear if the tweet would have an impact on the CMT Awards, which rely on fan votes to decide the winner of each category.
The awards ceremonies over the past year have resulted in a drop in viewership amid the coronavirus pandemic and their transition to a more virtual experience. So, while a low number of viewers are registered for the upcoming CMT Awards, that doesn’t necessarily mean the organization’s controversial tweet led to the show’s boycott.
But it has created controversy for the network at a time when overturning and boycotts have taken root in the country as a way for Americans to express their displeasure with a person or organization.
Country music conjures up images of rural southern communities and conservative white Christians, two demographics strongly supportive of the Second Amendment and gun ownership. CMT pressed a red button for many of the genre’s most ardent fans.
Geoff Mann, professor of geography at Simon Fraser University, analyzed country music and its relationship to its audience in a 2008 essay titled Why does country music sound white?
In the article, Mann described the 1950s and 1960s as a key turning point for the genre when he began to promote a certain vision of “whiteness” in society. The music evolved into its most current form with an emphasis on artists’ nostalgia and a return to the “simpler” times of the country.
“It quickly became a situation where the music didn’t describe what white people felt, but rather described how whiteness felt,” Mr. Mann wrote. “And, in that sense, it’s, or at least often is, a great machine of cultural reproduction, not only telling the ongoing siege of mere innocent whites – that’s why nostalgia is so absolutely central to everything. the genre – but also perform resistance to this siege in the experience of a supposedly simple and unrepentant white “normal” who is basically a big “f *** you” to anyone celebrating the forces behind this siege.
Given this explanation, CMT viewers might see the gun tweet as yet another “seat” of something they attribute to their culture: the ability to proudly own a gun.
Country music has had to contend with race and other cultural issues within its genre over the years.
White singer artist Morgan Wallen suffered a backlash after a video showing the country music star using the N word in a video in February.
The artist apologized for his actions a week after the video was released, but the country music industry initially did not respond kindly to the situation. The Billboard Music Awards banned Mr Wallen from attending, radio stations stopped broadcasting his music, he was temporarily suspended from his label and fired from his arts agency.
Then just a day before the CMT Awards, fans of Mr. Wallen, who claim he was unfairly canceled, purchased multiple billboards across Nashville to support the country music singer.
“The fans are talking. Enough is enough, ”read seven billboards scattered around Nashville. “The music industry, we want to be heard.
These billboards have also surfaced in Los Angeles ahead of the Billboard Music Awards and the Academy of Country Music Awards after Mr Wallen was left out amid controversy.
At first, the controversy seemed that maybe country music had something to do with some of the race-related issues prevalent in the genre. But Mr. Wallen has not lost his foothold in the industry.
The Country Music Awards (CMA) announced that Mr Wallen could still be nominated for awards this year, but he would not be allowed in specific categories. Mr. Wallen also made a comeback on his label and on the radio airwaves in the months following the backlash.
These latest incidents – the backlash to CMT’s guns tweet and Mr. Wallen’s return following controversy – show that fans may be trying to keep the country music community they’ve known for a long time, without wanting to embrace cultural changes.
Some country music stars, however, could have an influence on the evolution of the genre in the years to come.
The Dixie Chicks and Lady Antebellum both attempted to be more inclusive with their audiences by changing their names to The Chicks and Lady A, respectively. (But already the Chicks have been shut out of country music for years after speaking out against President George W Bush and the Iraq War in 2003).
Country singer Mickey Guyton, who made history by becoming the first black female solo to receive a Grammy nomination in a country category, hosted the ACM Awards this year – which had a record four nominated black artists. She was the first black host at the awards show since 1984.
After Mr Wallen apologized for using the N word, citing his drunkenness as one of the reasons for using the word, Ms Guyton responded on Twitter.
“The hatred runs deep. Promises to do better don’t mean shit, ”she wrote.
Instantly, Mrs. Guyton was beset by the hatred of the country singer’s fans.
“What scared me the most was not even that he said the word – it was wrong, it sickened me, it sickened me – but the way some fans chased me for speaking out against racism, I have never been the victim of so much hatred before, ”said Ms. Guyton. The New Yorker.
Ms Guyton, herself, was told that country music would cancel it and “you’ll be Dixie Chick-ed” for pushing the boundaries of what the genre could represent and who.
But she expressed optimism on the publication that a cultural shift was starting in country music.
“I know the city is starting to embrace other black female artists,” she said. “It’s so important. It’s not enough that just one succeeds here and there – it has to be a sea of black women, a sea of Latin women, a sea of LGBTQ artists. If we don’t see it, it will be the same white in a van with a cap, maybe sneakers. “
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