Tackling Performative Activism and Discussing Racism Within Pop Culture

If you’ve been on the internet at all within the past week you would know that country superstar Morgan Wallen was caught using a racial slur. Country music’s favorite love song artist and chart-topping Morgan Wallen was in his front yard with his friends, who I must add are all white, drunk as a skunk when he used the slur. This was caught on video by one of his neighbors who then released the footage to TMZ when it then went viral. Wallen was celebrating his very successful album “Dangerous” which was topping all the country music charts. After the video was leaked, Wallen quickly released his apology, but in this case, his actions spoke louder than his words. He was dropped from his record label, CMT removed all of his music and performances from their channel, he was removed from all Spotify and apple music curated playlists, and many radio stations such as IHeartRadio have stopped playing his music. Social media is having a ball with this, many of Wallen’s supporters have gone to the popular social media app TikTok to make videos showing their support for him. These fans are calling into question the use of the word since he was drunk and “did not know what he was saying”. Many are also pointing out the invasion of privacy coming from his neighbors. Multiple country music artists have expressed their disappointment on social media as well.

Country music star Kelsea Ballerini’s reaction to the video of Wallen.
Country music star Maren Morris’ response to Ballerini and tackling her issues with celebrities getting away with things and having no consequences.

Many are shocked by how serious these consequences are but this brings up my question: Do we think these organizations truly care about what he said and the racism rooted behind it, or are they just playing into performative activism? We see this all the time especially when it comes to race and gender inequality. Whether it’s company’s posting in support for BLM but not actually attempting to help the cause or politicians talking about women’s rights but not actually advocating for them in office. Music artists such as Chris Brown still have many fans and very popular music even after horrible scandals. The trend seems to be: scandal comes out, the public is horrified, companies make statements and give the artist or celebrity a slap on the wrist and by the end of the year the whole thing seems to be forgotten. As a society that is so heavily influenced by pop culture and celebrities, we need to do better, CMT, his old label and the other companies who have dropped Morgan Wallen have taken a great first step but the issue runs so much deeper. According to Billboard, Morgan Wallen’s music sales have skyrocketed after the breaking news of the scandal despite his music being taken off of the radio and off the playlists of many streaming sites. Similar to other celebrities becoming more famous after a big scandal. So readers, my question for you is: How do we tackle the racism, sexism, and homophobia that so many celebrities exhibit, is it possible to create a society in which celebrities are held accountable for their actions?

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