April 11, 2013

"Why Elitists Hate" the Brad Paisley/LL Cool J song "Accidental Racist."

According to novelist Will Shetterly (one of six commentators on the much-maligned recording):
The song’s first sin is it’s earnest. There’s no irony to please hipsters.

Its second sin is it’s about members of the U.S.’s racially and regionally divided working class, a southern white Lynyrd Skynyrd fan in a Confederate battle flag T-shirt and a northern black rapper in a do-rag, gold chains and sagging pants. This song wasn’t made for, by or about people who consider themselves the cultural elite, and elitists hate the idea of being irrelevant, especially in a discussion of an issue as important as race.

Its third sin is featuring a rap artist. Many elitists hate rap as much as they hate country, though they don’t like to admit it for fear of appearing racially insensitive....

Its last sin is its title -- "Accidental Racist" -- which reminds academic race theorists of a pet term, “unintentional racism,” the racism practiced by people who don’t realize they’re racist. The song is about the opposite phenomenon, the assumptions of people who see racism where it isn’t present because they misunderstand the symbols of a different culture....

31 comments:

Scott M said...

All of that and it's still a horrible pop recording.

mccullough said...

Irony is the shackles of youth.

ricpic said...

Paisley falls all over himself apologizing for being white; LL don't reciprocate. That why I hate it. Why elitists hate anything is too much of an exercise in threading a labyrinth to bother figuring out.

Big Mike said...

... and elitists hate the idea of being irrelevant.

Then they hate reality. But then they always have.

SJ said...

What if Darius Rucker and Eminem decided to do their own version of the song?

Would that be ironic enough for elitists?

Sam L. said...

Brings to mind a sentence, "They hate what they do not understand." And they refuse to attempt to understand, too.

Henry said...

I think Phoebe Robinson, in the same forum, does better:

This is not to say that I don't recognize the song's good intentions. I do, but that doesn't mean the tune's not asinine.

Nomennovum said...

Race matters in America are too complex and emotional. Electing the people's first pet AA baby has only worsened matters. This is not a surprise, since the liberal elite makes everything worse everwhere everytime.

People are beginning to throw up their hands and giving up on the whole thing. Look for more and more eye-rolling in response to the ubiquitous "that's racist!" charge.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

He does have a point about "elitists" and rap. Hip-hop was quite the hot subject in musicology grad departments when I was in one. (Hell, I was on the editorial staff of a student journal in the early 90s, and in the same issue in which my own article on the early music movement was published, there was an article, which I edited, on ... LL Cool J.) But I doubt that hip-hop was then, or is now, the music most academics listen to for pleasure.

richlb said...

Worst lyrics in the whole miserable song:

If you don't judge my gold chains
I'll forget the iron chains

Ugh!

Rusty said...

"It's so bad....."

HOW BAD IS IT!!!???

it should be the theme song for MST3000.

Jason said...

Brad Paisely is a hellaciously good guitarist.

Nonapod said...

Brad Paisely is a hellaciously good guitarist.

A lot of the big country singer/guitarists guys can really shred. Keith Urban used to be in a trio called The Ranch, they had this instrumental called Clutterbilly that's pretty impressive.

Baron Zemo said...

I love the diversity!

I can't wait to see Carrie Underwood and Fifty Cent singing "Endless Love" on the CMA awards!

traditionalguy said...

Country music songs are written to evoke base emotions and must be understood as such. Elites need not apply.

Shanna said...

Nobody but elitists (and people who read this blog) have even heard of the song yet as far as I know.

I sure haven't heard it on the radio.

damikesc said...

Brad Paisely is a hellaciously good guitarist.

One of the best I've seen. Psychotically good.

And his work used to be awesome.

Now? Meh.

EMD said...

Bloomberg is hard at work on "Accidental Fascist"

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Nothing to do with this topic of the Accidental Racist.

But....it is a good opportunity to link to this song and video. One of my favorites with Brad Paisley. Allison Krauss isn't bad either :-D

The Godfather said...

The spirit is right, but this is the way it's done: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvKyBcCDOB4

Shana said...

"Race matters in America are too complex and emotional. Electing the people's first pet AA baby has only worsened matters. This is not a surprise, since the liberal elite makes everything worse everwhere everytime.

People are beginning to throw up their hands and giving up on the whole thing. Look for more and more eye-rolling in response to the ubiquitous "that's racist!" charge." - Nomennovum

I say the sooner the better.

SOJO said...

Where is the link to this song? all I can find is links discussing the song.

Moose said...

So is this the "modern" equivalent of "Ivory and Ebony"?

Kenneth Burns said...

"Country music, the music of the white rural working class..."

I stopped reading there, in the second paragraph. The guy doesn't seem to know much about country music.

Will Shetterly said...

Kenneth Burns, mock my politics and I'll grin, but say I don't know where country music comes from, and them's fighting words. Johnny Cash may've been the first musician whose name I knew.

Sure, country's not just for white rural working folks anymore than rap's for black urban folks. But that's sure what Nashville builds on. What am I missing?

Kenneth Burns said...

Good to see you here. Thanks for the response. My point is that the country audience has been mainly suburban, not rural, for decades. Garth Brooks wouldn't have charted five number-one albums -- on the mainstream chart, I mean, not just the country chart -- if he had only a rural, working-class following.

Will Shetterly said...

Kenneth, agreed that country's been suburbanized. And urbanized. It's part of why I don't get the flak Paisley and LL Cool J have been taking: like their music or not, they've got a large audience that'll think about their their themes. And that audience is not going to be listening to anything by Paisley's and LL Cool J's critics.

Kenneth Burns said...

It's true that Nashville makes heavy use of rural themes in the songwriting, which is why every other hit country song these days is called something like, "That's Why I'm Country."

Matt said...

I thought I hated it because it is poor writing and bad music.

Matt said...

I thought I hated it because it is poor writing and bad music.

Will Shetterly said...

Matt, sure, but that's not why people have devoted so many words to it. Most bad songs get ignored. This one seems to threaten some folks.