Country Stars Wrong About Big Shows, Right About Hypocrisy

If there are three personalities in country music who you should decidedly not listen to when it comes to their opinions on not just COVID-19, but really any subject matter regardless of what it is, it would be Chase Rice, Morgan Wallen, and Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line.

Chase Rice and Morgan Wallen are quite literally the #1 and #2 offenders from the mainstream for doing dumb things during the pandemic, which regardless of how you feel about lockdowns or restrictions, have significantly injured the ability for all artists to return to live settings by displaying irresponsible behavior.

Chase Rice was the perpetrator of arguably the biggest offense in country music when he shared video from his June concert at Brushy Mountain near Knoxville, TN where fans had rushed the stage, and it appeared that he had played a regular concert. It wasn’t a regular concert. Multiple media outlets falsely reported that he played to a crowd of 4,000, when the actual crowd was 809 who were supposed to be socially distanced in a 10,000-capacity outdoor venue. But when fans crashed the stage, Chase Rice was dumb enough to capture the moment and present to the public. That incident alone and the international outrage that ensued put the kibosh on scores of safe, socially-distanced opportunities for artists and fans alike.

Then of course Morgan Wallen coughed up his Saturday Night Live gig when he decided to suck face with half a dozen coeds in early October in another viral moment.

Now they have supposedly become the spokespeople for a return to normal concerts in the wake of the mass gatherings that transpired on the streets of many major American cities after Joe Biden was projected to become the President-Elect of the United States this last weekend.

“Time to start booking shows,” Wallen said on his Instagram story, with the image of a crowded downtown celebration. “The hypocrisy is unreal. If you don’t agree with me, fine. We can still be friends. But I have a family, band, and crew that need to be provided for and taken care of. If it’s OK for us to party in the streets with no ‘social distancing’ then we can book shows right now.”

Chase Rice posted a picture on his Instagram story of Notre Dame football fans rushing the field after their team defeated Clemson on Saturday (11/7) with the caption, “Great news y’all. Concerts are comin back.”

Then Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line posted a photo of a Biden celebration to his Instagram story saying, “Knew we were waiting on the election since March when this shit show started. Time to go back to work AMERICA. Booking shows ASAP.”

Mainstream country artists Scotty McCreery, Michael Ray, RaeLynn, Chris Lane, and Jason Aldean’s wife Brittany also also chimed in on their Instagram stories agreeing with the sentiment of hypocrisy musicians are facing while throngs of political revelers took to the streets, and sports fans celebrated victories.

When it comes to the idea that country artists or anyone else should be allowed to participate in events at the moment where absolutely no social distancing requirements are observed similar to the crowds seen in Joe Biden celebrations, this is inappropriate to assert. With the amount of COVID-19 cases spiking, and certain areas reaching capacity limits at hospitals, it’s just not the right time to be lobbying for a return to normal. Even if you think the COVID-19 concern is overblown, there is just no public will to be putting on full-blown concerts at this moment.

Furthermore, it looks like we are rounding a corner with COVID-19 due to the recent announcement of a safe and effective vaccine on the way. As as sign this will significantly effect live music and usher in a return to major concerts, the stock of LiveNation—who promotes most of the shows from the aforementioned artists and many others—spiked over 22% on the news. Obviously, the shutdowns have been devastating to the music industry. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel for how and when live music can return to normal safely.

But when it comes to the claims of these artists of hypocrisy, they’re completely right. Since the beginning of the pandemic there has been a glaring double standard in how social distancing is demanded, and excused.

Rolling Stone Country criticized the artists for speaking out by saying they were drawing a “false equivalency between spontaneous election parties and organized concerts.” But the spontaneity of the street celebrations is what makes them so dangerous.

Chase Rice, Morgan Wallen, and Florida Georgia Line did not play full blown concerts. Nobody was put at risk for COVID-19 by their Instagram posts. Whether they were truly advocating to play full-blown regular shows with no social distancing or not is also fair to question. It appears they were just trying to use irony to point out hypocrisy.

Meanwhile, the street gatherings involving thousands, and sometimes tens of thousands of people, and likely involving millions of people in totality all bunched together chanting, singing and raving after Joe Biden won the election? They actually did happen. People were put at risk. People did and will get COVID-19 because of these events. It’s also very likely some will get sick, and some will die.

Yet these actions are considered forgivable, while ironic hypotheticals posted on Instagram stories that disappear after 24 hours are considered problematic. Chase Rice, Morgan Wallen, and Florida Georgia Line couldn’t book massive concerts even if they wanted to. Local restrictions at the moment would make that difficult to impossible, while they would be hounded down by many in the media and the public if they did.

What Rolling Stone Country and others are right to point out is that none of these artists spoke out when President Trump was holding massive rallies, and that you’re much more likely to see mask wearing at an impromptu Joe Biden celebration than a country music concert. Clearly, many of the posts from these artists were politically motivated and the squeezing of sour grapes, especially from Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line. Also the flippant nature of the posts could be taken wrongly by fans, resulting in them not taking COVID-19 as seriously as maybe they should.

But that doesn’t make a few artists speaking out on social media wrong, and Joe Biden supporters right. Gathering in large crowds is discouraged by all health professionals and is a nonpartisan stance. Country artists and fans did not participate in this activity. Joe Biden supporters did. But regardless of politics, all mass gatherings are wrong, regardless of the occasion. Drawing a moral stance between any of them is the false equivalency.

But this issue goes to something deeper that is roiling country music and the greater culture at the moment, which is the active attempt to suppress perspectives and speech that does not fit the rigid ideology of woke media. Last week, the CMA Awards sent out a harmless social media meme promoting the awards show Wednesday evening (11-11), promising potential viewers that it would be a way to forget “the weight of the world” for a while.

This was unethically and falsely twisted into a pronouncement that artists were being actively suppressed from speaking out during the CMA Awards by freelance journalist Marissa R. Moss, and picked up by major artists and personalities such as pop star Sara Bareilles, and Margo Price who said, “Once again, the CMA’s are censoring/white washing their show…”

As the CMA Awards later clarified and Saving Country Music was able to verify through the camps of numerous performers and nominees, the CMA Awards had made no attempt whatsoever to censor artists, let alone demand what they could or could not say during the presentation. It was just a simple meme in a series of them promoting the show. “We welcome every artist’s right to express themselves,” the CMA assured.

However, when it comes to artists speaking out in ways that run counter to the collective woke media groupthink, journalists actively work to publicly shame and cancel those artists, often using verifiable lies to do so as they attempted with the CMA Awards and Chase Rice’s June concert, as opposed to working to engage and persuade individuals or entities to their viewpoint. They use bully tactics and gang up on people on Twitter in pretentious displays of moral preening and virtual signaling to discourage those with opposing views from speaking at all.

In 2017, Rolling Stone Country broke its promises and assurances to not get political in its country music coverage, and demanded that artists needed to speak out politically. As Saving Country Music warned at that time, be careful what you wish for. When journalists and activists say that country artists need to speak out more, they’re making the assumption these artists will speak out on their side of political issues since many of these individuals never interact with anyone who doesn’t hold their dogmatic views in the echo chambers that pervade the media landscape on Twitter.

What Chase Rice, Morgan Wallen, Brian Kelley and others did is exactly what Rolling Stone Country and many journalists in country music have been demanding they do, which is speak up on political matters. Now that they have done so, they want to shame them into silence.

But the truth is always that actions speak louder than words, and the words of these artists in fleeting Instagram posts did not give COVID-19 to anyone. The rallies celebrating Joe Biden’s win did.

But regardless of the politics, all mass gatherings should be universally condemned until we can get COVID-19 under control. When you politicize the virus—whether it’s pop country artists you shouldn’t be listening to anyway, or otherwise intelligent journalists who should know better but have been blinded by political ideology—it’s an insult to all the people who have died, and all the sacrifices that have been made to save others.

Quit blaming people on the other side for a virus that shows no partisanship on who it infects and kills, and understand we’re all in this together.

14+