This just in from the music world: country singer Jason Aldean has issued a public apology for “acting inappropriately” after photos surfaced of the very married Aldean making out with former American Idol contestant Brittany Kerr at a bar in Las Vegas.
I started listening to country music about three years ago, partly because I found that many of the artists’ lyrics reflected my values more than other music formats. That’s “many,” not all.
Aldean is definitely one of the exceptions.
He has a few good songs, but I have found that many of his lyrics objectify women. Take, for example, his hit “My Kind of Party.” In it, he’s talking to a girl (“a little tan-legged Georgia dream”) who he’s inviting to a party with him.
He essentially goes on to tell her that she can go get drunk (“Well if you wanna drink, go baby just do your thing; but give up your keys, hell why drive when you can stay with me?”) while he’s checking out other women (“You can find me, in the back of a jacked-up tailgate; sittin’ round watching all these pretty things, get down in that Georgia clay.”)
Later she can catch up with him for a one-night stand. (“Baby if you’re in the mood and you can settle for a one night rodeo; you can be my tan legged Juliet, I’ll be your redneck Romeo.”)
Wow, what a charmer.
I know there are far worse lyrics in the world today, but that’s my point. This is one of those songs that seems pretty inoffensive until you actually stop to think about it. There are many, many more like it, including pretty much every Jason Aldean song I can think of that makes reference to a woman. They aren’t about the woman herself, just about her “tan-legged” parts or her hotness or how attracted he is to her.
That kind of thing may seem flattering to immature women who crave male attention, but upon closer examination, it’s just insulting. If you question that, go back to the lyrics above and imagine that you’re a woman being asked out on that particular date.
I don’t know the first thing about Aldean’s wife or his marriage, except that it’s got to be pretty rough for his high school sweetheart to see pictures of the man she married to making out with a reality-show hottie in a bar.
But given the mentality we hear in her husband’s songs, how can we be particularly surprised? If women are primarily objects to be ogled and randomly fondled, why wouldn’t he? If sex is an meaningless as a “one-night rodeo,” what possible reason would he have to limit it to his marriage? Why would it even matter?
I think this mentality can subtly—or not so subtly—infiltrate our thinking. When we’re listening—uncritically—to lyrics like this all day, it can start to change us. They get stuck in our heads. They push their way into our decision making, or our lack thereof.
I’m not saying we need to stop listening to music. I don’t plan to, but I’ve found that it pays to ask a few questions as we’re listening. Is this song about loving, or using? Does it reflect seeing the other as a valuable human person, or as a commodity to be enjoyed?
And maybe, just maybe, if you can push the right ideas deeper into your psyche than the wrong ones, you can save yourself a lot of heartache—and perhaps a lot of embarrassment next time you’re in a bar in Las Vegas.