Yeah, Brad Paisley’s “Accidental Racist” may not be a perfect song. It might not be a totally inoffensive or non-hilarious song. But, dangit, Brad Paisley and LL Cool J were just trying to start a conversation.
“I felt like when we were writing this song,” Paisley told Ellen DeGeneres, “it wasn’t necessarily up to the media, I don’t really trust Hollywood … or talk radio or anything like that to sort of deal with that anymore. I think it’s music’s turn to have the conversation.”
And yet here’s the media, butting in anyway. Why should we let the pointy-headed liberal non-racistsphere dominate yet another discussion? If you want to see the REAL conversation about “Accidental Racist”– the conversation Brad Paisley was hoping to start among our nation’s true stars-and-bars country rebels– you need to go straight to America’s free and open tractor pull of ideas and opinions: CNN comments section.
On Wednesday, much like our masterful stab to help understand the song a day earlier, CNN columnist LZ Granderson published a thoughtful piece on the implications of “Accidental Racist.” Granderson didn’t outright condemn the song; he praised the bravery of even attempting to address issues of racism in a genre so closely associated with Southern whiteness, and he granted that Cool J and Paisley’s intentions were probably good, even if the execution was awkward.
The story has already attracted nearly a thousand comments from all sides of the political spectrum. Well, mostly the incredibly racist sides of the political spectrum. Let’s have a look, shall we? (I should warn you that some of the following screenshots contain upsetting language and unvarnished bigotry, though I’m sure you expect as much from CNN comments.)
The media made a big deal of the song’s false equivalence between do-rags and glorification of a white supremacist past. But, wouldn’t you know it: turns out a lot of CNN commenters were totally fine with that. The notion that every other race are the real racists was a recurring theme.
Plus, all this racism stuff would be OK as long as everyone stopped accusing white people of being racist and just let them wear their Confederate flags to Starbucks, dangit. Yes, there was even a “why can’t we have White Entertainment Television” comment or two, but I spared you the misery of seeing those.
Many CNN commenters also agreed with Paisley’s point that just because Southerners are proud of their heritage, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bigots. For example:
See? Nobody in the South hates black people, they just, uh… oh.
And then there’s this guy, who jumped into the conversation to make an interesting comparison between racial intolerance with intolerance of gays and lesbians:
See? Just because this guy hates black people doesn’t make him a racist. If nothing else, at least the conversation around “Accidental Racist” provoked a major breakthrough in the technology of insane racist guy self-justification. Another commenter offered an interesting solution to the problem of racism:
Yes, racists would have a much easier time dealing with other races if they were just more like Dennis. Why can’t everyone just upgrade themselves to a Dennis-like standard? Then we could all live in a blissful race-tolerant utopia where all citizens enjoyed the education, status and personality of Dennis.
Meanwhile, this commenter takes a break from all this racial tension to ask a question about race in general:
Another applauded Brad Paisley for his openness, if not for the quality of the song. However, the comment soon deteriorates into truly bizarre claims:
Yow, this guy is truly nuts– he says Brad Paisley is handsome? I mean, maybe in a mousey Nascar-driver kind of way, but he’s no Keith Urban.
So, yeah, that’s pretty much the conversation. It’s the same one they’re having on every other CNN story that involves race in any way, and on most of the ones that don’t. Congrats to Brad Paisley.
Maybe he and LL will have better luck next time– oh, wait! Next time is already here! Everyone’s heard “Accidental Racist” by now, but I bet you didn’t know there was another Brad Paisley and LL Cool J crossover. This one didn’t get any attention, because instead of being terrible and controversial, it’s just terrible and even more terrible. I’m proud to present “Live For You,” a Cool J slow-jam with a goofball Paisley hook. Here’s one that all colors and creeds can enjoy the shittiness of together. Enjoy.
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This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 12, 2013