Morgan Wallen was public enemy number one a year ago. The country singer was caught on video saying the full n-word. His hit songs were pulled from hundreds of radio stations across the country. Wallen was banned from award shows. His booking agency dropped him. The media thought they had banned him.
But, it didn't work.
The cancel calls exposed Wallen to a larger audience. An audience who is still rocking with him. He sold out Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Washington Post can't understand why someone would go see Wallen sing after the n-word video was leaked. So they sent a reporter to find out. Here are the answers the reporter added to her article.
“I’m aware, but I don’t care.”
“Every big pop star, someone digs up dirt on them.”
“Is this going to be a nice article, or are you going to say he’s a racist?”
This is not meant to condone Wallen's use of the most horrible word in the English language. Quite the opposite. This is to point out how the real world works outside of the media's woke bubble. Inside that bubble, the elites think everyone has drawn the same moral framework they have or should accept. They claim the moral high ground, thinking the world would be a better place if everyone adopted their rules. Because of this, so many journalists can't understand why Wallen still has fans let alone sell out the legendary Garden.
In the real world, people are forgiving. People understand nuanced. People don't always care about what you think or want to live by your rules. Life is complex. In many media and social media narratives, it's not. Many see life as black and white with no room for gray. This thinking is why the media is perplexed by Joe Rogan's appeal. They tried to label him misinformation, then circulated a video of him using the n-word (in a different context than Waller). Clearly, the real world didn't care. And Joe Rogan, like Wallen, has an even bigger audience.
It's about emotions. Millions of people like the interesting conversations Joe Rogan has, whether you like that or not. Millions of people listen to Wallen's music, whether you like it or not. Just because you don't like something doesn't mean it should be censored. Maybe in a perfect world, everyone would be morally perfect, but clearly, this world isn't perfect, nor is any person (except our Moms).
Think about it this way. Many radio stations continue to play Michael Jackson music. Streaming platforms continue to offer R.Kelly's discography. Because people will keep listening. There are no worse moral examples in music than Michael and R.Kelly. Yet there they are. The media isn't trying to cancel them. Because life is complex. Morality is complex. And we love music. We connect with music. It makes us move. It makes us feel. Therefore, we are willing to overlook so-called flaws because of our emotional connection to music, like it or not. We go to concerts because we can feel the music in a different way than listening to a song on our phones.
The Washington Post also revealed another important fact when they talked to a younger couple who attended Waller's show in New York City.
They’re in their 20s, living in Brooklyn, and like everyone else at the concert, they preferred to keep this on a first-name basis: Breanna and John. She said it’s too embarrassing to tell her co-workers they went to the concert. He said, “It’s definitely hard to reconcile.”
They still went, despite the n-word and the potential scornful judgments of their morally righteous friends. They went because they wanted the experience of seeing Morgan Waller live. They wanted to feel the music.
The indignant morally superior online mob will never be able to cancel that.