Every year it becomes harder and harder to watch the awards shows. This goes double for the CMAs. If readers need better proof of how the music industry is out of touch, and how it can turn music into a parody of itself, then the Country Music Awards are the thing to watch.
Last night's show featured all the usual suspects: Carrie Underwood, George Strait, Taylor Swift. And boy, did they trot out the stereotypes! A quick snippit from MSN.com's wrap-up:
"[An] animation behind Alan Jackson, which flashed boots, gee-tars, mud-flap ladies, frosty tall ones ... just before that random pep squad ran up and down the aisles to two-step. We actually forgot what song he sang."
It gets more atrocious every year. What's worse is nobody's telling them to stop! If one takes their view of country music solely from these shows, then yes, all the stereotypes of cowboy hats and vapid, red-state values are going to be true. The tragedy is that of all the false images in music, this one of country fans being a bunch of gun-toting, warmongering, racist rednecks is one of the most unshakeable.
That's the problem. Country isn't "red-state music" anymore than rap is "violent and depraved thug music" or punk is "that music where kids cut each other with razor blades and knives." In the world of the lowest common denominator, though, it's easier to pick an image and go with it. Tragically, that image looks a lot like Larry the Cable Guy (shudder...).
If the country industry would pay more than token attention to Steve Earle and Townes Van Zandt, if they would stop completely ignoring "alt-country" acts like Son Volt and Wilco, and if they would admit that the Dixie Chicks have indeed been proven right after all these years, then we might get an image that is much more in tune with the Heartland.