Monday, July 24, 2023

Tate and Aldean

Tate Reeves decided to throw his hat into the "Don't Try That In A Small Town" ruckus.  He had some energetic support from people who ain't from here.  People from Mississippi were far more concerned with "What are you gonna do about hospitals, Tate?" and at least one poor soul asking, "When y'all gonna give me my flag back."  I suspect that's the same guy who posts on every Mississippi-related post about Mississippi.  There's a "neo-confederate" Harley gang in Pearl, whose members all look like they are old enough to have been actual Confederates.

Since this story isn't going away, I did a little digging.  Don't Try That in a Small Town is the number one song on iTunes.  That it was iTunes struck me.  On Spotify, Amazon, and Youtube Music, Don't Try That in a Small Town doesn't finish in the top one hundred.  It doesn't even finish in the top 50 on the country lists."  What's the discrepancy?

I honestly had forgotten iTunes still existed.  When my stepdaughter was 13, she wanted more than anything to have an iPod, so I got her one.  When she nearly got us all arrested downloading songs from Napster, I made sure she had, and only used, an account on iTunes.  That was the last time I engaged with iTunes.  

iTunes clings to life as dead last in the music browser wars by holding onto some market segments that don't update their game very often.  One is certain older parts of South Korea, which is why nearly every other song after Don't Try That in a Small Town in the iTunes top ten was K-pop.  The other segment that still clings to life using iTunes is older white Americans who signed up to iTunes from an AOL account thirty years ago and never updated it.  I also learned that it's incredibly easy to game the numbers on iTunes using bots, mainly because even Apple hasn't cared about the product in twenty years.  

I'm not a journalist, and if I was, I'd probably be a crappy one, but I uncovered all this before my coffee got cold, and yet so many major news outlets and public voices, including the Governor of Mississippi, didn't bother to mention that the story is a fluke, and possibly a fake.  

With the possibility that the story might be fake, or at least greatly overstated, I became much more interested in what's going on there than I was in Jason Aldean and his little song.  There's not really enough evidence to accuse anybody.  There is smoke, but is there a fire?  With that in mind, I started trying to figure out who might benefit from a fake story.

There are forces on the left that want very much for you to believe there are a bunch of crazy white racists trying to take over the country.  There are, actually, but their numbers aren't anywhere near as large as the news might make you think.  Since the left-leaning media already has that meme out there, they would have some benefit from feeding it, and a story like this certainly feeds it.  

The other thing I thought about was that if you look at the lyrics of the song, it picks up on a lot of memes that the NRA is currently pushing.  His management, I'm sure, is aware that Aldean shares a market with the NRA.  When I see lyrics like: 
Got a gun that my granddad gave me
    They say one day they're gonna round up

the NRA sprang to mind. That's an idea they've been pushing with a fever for thirty-five years. If somebody was going to use bots to change the iTunes popularity results, the NRA is a prime candidate. Whatever the NRA was made to be, they now have a reputation for using pretty sketchy tactics.
There's also the very real possibility that once one news agency reported the story, everybody else jumped on the bandwagon because they needed stories to fill their top fold. The news business is still a business.

A lot of the people responding to the governor's post seemed to think that country music ain't what it used to be. I can't really address that. Everybody gets to a certain age when they're mad that the current music isn't like the music that was popular when they were teenagers. There's an awful lot more money in country music than there used to be, so whatever else happens, that's going to have an effect.
Ultimately, none of this is a solution to anything. A hundred Jason Aldeans with their grandaddy's gun wasn't going to stop the BLM riots, nor solve the problems that led to the riots. That's a popular American myth, but it's still a myth. Kyle Rittenhouse cried like a baby in court because he believed in this myth enough to kill somebody but not enough to make even a small dent in what was happening. The NRA and Fox News made him a hero, and the left made his mom a villain, but neither side mentions the fact that what he did made no difference in what happened at all. People dying in riots just make the riot bigger.

Ultimately what I'm saying is that I don't think the story here is the story. I think this is a tempest that's drawing attention from a lot of other, much more important things.

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