You know me. I’ve made an entire career out of exploiting any and every minuscule chink in mainstream country’s armor, and rearing back and reefing pop country’s worst offenders right square in the short pants for any perceived slight. And specifically, Jason Aldean has been a favorite target of Saving Country Music over the years.
But I’m sorry folks, the criticism of Aldean’s actions at the Route 91 Harvest Festival for what he did or did not do—including from many of his own fans—as a shower of bullets came raining down from a small army’s worth of automatic weapons positioned in the perfect vantage point to cause maximum damage, is pretty unfounded, and frankly, callous.
If you didn’t notice, 59 people lost there lives, and half a thousand were injured. The human toll here was incredible, and to have people second guess Aldean’s decisions as a barrage of bullets is whizzing by his head and fans of his are falling dead left and right, is the result of a complete loss of perspective. Let’s see how sharp your decision-making skills are with a homicidal maniac showering down bullets on your position. Maybe you think you’d be Captain America in that instance, but nobody was a bigger sitting duck than Jason Aldean as Mr. Real Estate Investor played Tony Montana out a 32nd floor window. Standing right at center stage with flood lights illuminating his position and being such a high value target, it’s incredible Aldean made it out alive.
Every life matters, and every person who perished Sunday evening is its own personal tragedy. That’s a brother, a sister, a mother, a daughter, a dad or a son, and nothing has been more sad then reading the personal stories of those who died. But let’s face it, if Jason Aldean gets shot down at center stage, or some of the other performers who were on the premises of the time of the shooting are also part of the casualty numbers, this story goes to an entirely new level. And after what has happened to folks like John Lennon, Dimebag Darrell, Christina Grimmie and others, any performer has to believe they’re not just in the line of fire, but they are the primary target when bullets start flying. For all we know, Jason Aldean was ordered off the stage and told to take cover, as he probably should have been. The only question is, why wasn’t everyone else?
Now don’t mistake this into thinking that perhaps Jason Aldean couldn’t have done more. Yes, he probably could have, and probably should have simply said “Y’all take cover!” as the bullets continued to fly before running off stage. He may have saved some lives, if for no other reason than some wouldn’t have continued to mistake the gunfire for fireworks, or some part of the presentation. Or it maybe a warning may have not made a difference at all. If you’ve ever been to one of these big outdoor shows, you know how the crowd is pinned up with little to nowhere to go even if they wanted to flee. That’s why this psychopathic killer chose it as a target.
But there is a huge difference between not doing or saying something, and being downright negligent when it comes to saving other people’s lives. Jason Aldean is there to entertain. The security staff and police are there to deal with public safety situations, including active shooters. Just because he wasn’t a hero doesn’t make him a villain. Other people could have made announcements over the speaker system to warn fans as well, or helped direct traffic. If anything, Aldean is uniquely unqualified to do so, and could have made things worse by inspiring a stampede. On a sound stage such as the one at the festival, your sound guys and monitor men and emcee’s usually have access to a wireless mic they can use for announcements or introductions and such as well. But they probably didn’t think of that either because they were running for their lives.
This was a killing on a massive, unprecedented scale. You had a killer who had meticulously thought out his approach, spraying the festival site with automatic gunfire. There will be second guessing and the re-evaluation of security protocols all over the place after this incident. And I don’t want to hear people saying “Jason Aldean ain’t country anyway” or “his music sucks, and they deserved it.” You fucking assholes, this is not the time or the place. Are you so dug into your social media persona that you can’t see the forest for the trees in this instance? People are dead. Many of them. An outdoor festival descended into a war zone in the heart of an American city.
But I for one am glad Jason Aldean didn’t die, along with everyone else who made it out of that nightmare alive. It just gives me more opportunities to hoot on him for his terrible tractor rap country. You know, at a time when that’s actually appropriate.