Cancel Culture vs. Morgan Wallen
Written by Branden Townes on February 19, 2021
Photo by John Shearer
In the past couple of weeks, local country artist, Morgan Wallen, has been in hot waters recently for being caught on video saying the n-word to one of his friends. The general public thought he would be canceled for his behavior, but it seems like he won’t.
Morgan Wallen released his new album “Dangerous: The Double Album” in early January. The album debuted at #1 on Billboard becoming the biggest debut from a country artist since Carrie Underwood’s “Cry Pretty”. Wallen is now the first country artist to hold his album for three weeks since debuting at #1 since Taylor Swift’s “Red”.
The final weekend of January, Wallen was celebrating with friends for his recent success on the charts. When arriving back to his Nashville home, his neighbors recorded him being rambunctious with friends. In the recording, he was caught hurling the n-word. Since the footage was released, Wallen has apologized for his behavior and what he said. The media wasn’t so quick to accept him after his apology. His label Big Loud Records has suspended his contract, iHeartMedia is pulling his music from their 135 radio stations, and CMT is pulling his appearances from all its platforms.
Country artist, Maren Morris, came forward about how she felt with Morgan Wallen. She tweeted “It actually IS representative of our town because this isn’t the first ‘scuffle’ and he just demolished a huge streaming record last month regardless. We all know it wasn’t his first time using that word. We keep them rich and protected at all costs with no recourse.” This tweet was the most noticed from the rest of the country artists that came forward to express their feelings. With Morris being in the country music industry and knowing Nashville, she knows how people use the n-word without knowledge of how it affects others.
Brianna Keys, African-American Kent State student, expressed the same feeling that Morris brought up in her tweet. “In my opinion, the way we see country music now is for a mainly White, southern, republican, extremist, and violent audience. So it is not a surprise that this happened.” Wallen didn’t realize how the n-word is not the right word to use in his vocabulary. In his recent apology video, he said himself “One thing I’ve learned already that I’m specifically sorry for is that my words matter, that words can truly hurt a person and at my core that’s not what I’m OK with. This week I heard firsthand some personal stories from Black people that honestly shook me.”
Now that Wallen has released an apology statement and video, will he be cancelled for the rest of his career. Cancel culture has taken an aggressive turn for some celebrities but most artists that were cancelled like Chris Brown, Doja Cat, & Taylor Swift have swerved being cancelled their entire career. Despite the release of the video and apology, Wallen’s album is still #1 on the charts and sales have increased. Professor Evan Bailey, who works in the music industry, said “He won’t be cancelled forever unfortunately because of how the music industry is, but people make mistakes and learn from them.”. Greg Stropki, an upcoming rapper, said “His sales have increased with the press he has gotten. He won’t be cancelled from country music for long.”
Wallen has done numerous things since the video and is showing he is learning. Keys has even noticed the change. “It’s not fair for anyone to get all of their hard work stripped from them, especially if they are trying to fix their problems like Morgan is donating to the NAACP, and having conversations with Black Americans as to why that word is so hateful and causes so much trauma. I don’t think he should be completely cancelled, because he is truly learning from his mistakes and as long as he is sincere in what he does from now on, there shouldn’t be a problem.” Country music listeners are noticing his change as well. Cassie Kotvas listened to Morgan Wallen before him being cancelled. “What he did was wrong, but I have to say he is doing a great job learning and growing from this.”
Morgan Wallen is taking his time learning from his behavior. It seems Wallen has dodged the bullet of being cancelled for the rest of his career from showing his growth the past couple weeks. Anthony Mancini, another country music listener, said “Hopefully he is paving the way for future country music artists to not use that language without knowledge of where it’s originated from.”