The country musician Jason Aldean has recently been embroiled in controversy over his track “Try That in a Small Town,” which has been accused of promoting violence and lynching.
Despite Aldean’s claims that all news footage in the music video is authentic, a TikTok user, Destinee Stark, stepped forward to debunk his statements, raising questions about the validity of the visuals used. As a consequence, Stark has found herself at the receiving end of death threats and harassment from Aldean’s supporters.
In “Try That in a Small Town,” Aldean, hailing from Macon, Georgia, implies that crimes such as carjacking, robbing liquor stores, and assaulting pedestrians, which may go unpunished in cities, will face repercussions in small towns. While the song was released earlier in the year, the music video’s debut sparked allegations of promoting racism, lynching, and violence against protesters. Aldean took to his social media platforms to defend his work, asserting that every news clip featured in the video was genuine. This is where Destinee Stark entered the picture.
I may be petty, but my THOROUGH and petty! 😂 Here is my dissertation debunking Jason Aldean’s claims about his 🎶🎥 propaganda. #jasonaldean #countrymusic #debunked #debunktok #factsoverfeelings #propganda #americanpropaganda
Stark, an activist and TikTok user, wasn’t convinced by Aldean’s claims and decided to investigate further. In a revealing 8-minute TikTok video, she exposed the use of stock footage in the music video. Stark identified two clips within the initial 30 seconds of the video, both of which were available on stock footage websites. One originated from a festival in Germany, while the other was created by a stock footage studio based in Bulgaria, effectively undermining Aldean’s attempts to present his work as an authentic portrayal of American news events.
Additionally, Stark pointed out that portions of the video were shot at a Tennessee courthouse, a site with a dark history of a lynching incident involving a black 18-year-old in 1927 and a race riot in 1946. Stark’s TikTok video and its follow-up quickly garnered over 1.5 million views each. However, the exposure came with severe consequences, as she now faces death threats, doxxing, and malicious comments.
Stark expressed her concern about the overwhelming backlash, stating, “I’m receiving thousands of comments that quite honestly, I can’t possibly keep up with. The context of those comments go far beyond what is considered ‘reasonably harsh criticism,’ and into the dark realm of death threats, death wishes, threats of violence, and just the most degrading, vile comments I’ve ever seen, quite frankly.” She called on those angered by her commentary to reflect on the reasons behind their intense reactions.
As of now, Aldean has remained silent about the controversy and the subsequent backlash, with the exception of promoting his ongoing tour through a tweet. Despite the backlash and Country Music Television’s decision to withdraw the video from circulation, “Try That in a Small Town” managed to reach the impressive #2 position on the Billboard Hot 100 this week, signaling the polarizing nature of the track’s reception. The situation continues to evolve, and the fallout from the exposure highlights the dark side of fandom culture, reminding us of the importance of responsible engagement and civil discourse in the online world.