Brad Paisley, LL Cool J, and You

10 Apr

Brad Paisley’s “Accidental Racist” has captured the hearts and minds of lovers of trash everywhere, not because it isn’t prosaic or inert, on the contrary, because it so confidently captures everything that is wrong with modern day conservatism and discourse on everything from race relations to gay/straight relations, you name two groups at odds with each other and chances are they’ve experienced Brad Paisley and LL Cool J’s dilemma.

The short of it: Brad Paisley walks into a Starbucks wearing a confederate flag T-Shirt. Cue his crooning. Brad Paisley is sad that he cannot simply express his love of [de-contextualized meaning of the confederate flag] without being dubbed [a racist]. LL Cool J chimes in with support, wishing he wasn’t judged by [characteristics of lesser historical importance] and pushes forth for forgiveness on both sides.

That is a perfect little mad-lib story for the amount of bs sites like Reddit have shoveled onto people for years.  We can take the above model and input it into any number of recent scenarios:

Pres. Obama is sad that he cannot simply express his [de-contextualized objectification of a woman by mention of her looks] without being dubbed [a sexist]. Kamala Harris [or random woman] chimes in with support, wishing she wasn’t judged by [characteristics of lesser historical importance]

Jersey man is sad that he cannot simply express his [de-contextualized love of the word ‘faggot’] without being dubbed [a homophobe]. Random gay dude chimes in with support, wishing he wasn’t judged by [characteristics of lesser historical importance].

I say ‘lesser historical importance’ because LL Cool J wearing a doo rag isn’t comparable to the wearing of the confederate flag.

The humorous thing is that we get this song as a gift while in the process of  throwing out this argument, almost like end credits to a really bad movie. The Internet has made it possible for us to to not only “walk in other people’s skins” but also to understand where other people come from. You are one Google search away from public forums and blogs written by people explaining why certain things cannot be de-contextualized, why certain words and symbols, like the confederate flag, offer almost visceral levels of repulsion. 

Implicit in the Brad and Cool J dilemma is an insidious little thought; that Brad Paisley is owed something, not by the world, but by LL Cool J, the person he’s directly making uncomfortable. It’s a curious little leap of logic but one I’ve seen made again and again for the sake of “fairness.” Brad Paisley not only needs for LL Cool J to validate his love of the confederate flag, but for them to get along LL Cool J must accept the de-contextualized meaning of the flag.  It is almost as if Brad Paisley is imposing his will on LL Cool J…oh wait, that’s exactly what he’s doing.

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