The Music Industry and Cancel Culture After Morgan Wallen Scandal

Morgan Wallen

If you keep up with pop culture, current events, or have any form of social media, then you have probably heard about Morgan Wallen’s TMZ scandal. Early this year, Morgan Wallen, a big up-and-coming country star, was caught using a racial slur on video, outside of his home in Nashville, TN. What exactly happened leading up to this event and what were the consequences? Let’s discuss.

At the beginning of January, Morgan Wallen released his highly-anticipated double album, titled “Dangerous”. This album featured 30 new songs, including 2 other bonus tracks. Following this release, Morgan Wallen was making waves in the music industry debuting at No. 1 on Billboard Charts, breaking numerous records, as well as receiving various forms of critical acclaim. Things were looking up for him and his career. However, Morgan’s praise and success was short-lived.

On February 2, 2021, TMZ released an explicit video of Wallen, after a night out in Nashville, where he was exposed using a racial slur. The video was caught from one of Wallen’s neighbors after hearing Morgan and his friends being extremely loud in the middle of the night. When they arrived back at the house after their night out, the group of friends could be heard loudly talking and yelling as well as honking car horns. In the video released, Morgan can be heard yelling at one of his friends and throws out the n-word. Within 24 hours, the media blew up.

Following TMZ’s initial release, many other news outlets and platforms took to covering the scandal as well. Morgan Wallen was all over the internet. Between TMZ, Fox News, USA Today, LA Times, and hundreds of other sources, word about the incident spread like wildfire. Many people were angry and took to social media to express their anger, including others in the entertainment industry. For example, country star Maren Morris tweeted, “It actually IS representative of our town because this isn’t his first ‘scuffle’ and he just demolished a huge streaming record last month regardless. We all know it wasn’t his first time using that word. We keep them rich and protected at all costs with no recourse”. Recording artist Kelsea Ballerini also tweeted, “The news out of Nashville tonight does not represent country music”. Meanwhile, while the internet was exploding with controversy, music industry executives were trying to decide how to best handle the situation.

 Within a day of the news scandal, Big Loud, Morgan Wallen’s record label, made a statement saying that as a result of the video, Wallen’s recording contract has been suspended indefinitely and do not tolerate his behavior. Not only did Morgan Wallen lose his recording contract, but he was also removed from country radio airplay and was ineligible to take part in the 2021 ACM Awards. 

About a week after the video was initially released, on February 10th, Morgan Wallen finally posted a YouTube video issuing his own statement and apology. In the video, he discusses his mistakes and promises to do better and become more educated to prevent such behavior in the future. While in the meantime, he would be taking a break from the spotlight as well as social media.

Unfortunately, this is not Morgan Wallen’s first time making headlines for controversial, immature behavior. In May of 2020, he was arrested and charged in downtown Nashville for public intoxication and disorderly conduct. Then again, in October of 2020, Wallen was seen on various Tik Toks making out with fans and partying in bars mask-less in Alabama. His erratic behavior caused him to lose his Saturday Night Live performance spot the following weekend. 

However,  after the news of his scandal, Morgan Wallen’s career did anything but plummet. In fact, his double album, “Dangerous”, only continued to rise on the charts. Despite the racial scandal, “Dangerous: The Double Album” is currently spending its 10th week atop the Billboard 200 chart. This album is the first to achieve such an accomplishment since 1987, when Whitney Houston’s album “Whitney” spent 11 weeks on top of the chart. Wallen is only the fourth country artist to have an album spend so long at number one on the charts.

With the events of the last year, it is no surprise that Morgan Wallen faced the backlash and consequences he did. I think it is very important for everyone to be educated on the current issues in our society and learn how we can all do better as individuals. I have high hopes for the future of the music industry. It is time to take action. Do better. Be better.

As far as Morgan Wallen and his career, we have no idea what the future holds. Will he ever make a comeback after this? Only time will tell.

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