Country music star Morgan Wallen just dropped a 36-song album titled “One Thing At A Time” last Friday, and it has predictably garnered massive success in just four days.
Most reasonable minds would attribute Wallen’s rise to the top of his genre to his clever song writing, incredible voice, and ability to make listeners believe what he sings.
But not everyone has a reasonable mind, and some are convinced that his success is more directly attributed to factors other than his talents.
In fact, the Los Angeles Times believes that Wallen is only successful because he’s directly benefiting from white privilege. The crux of the Times’ article relies on a distorted interpretation of the lyrics to his song “Outlook,” in which Wallen sings:
Now my outlook on life is differеnt than it used to be
Yeah, my outlook is someone's up there
Lookin' down and lookin' out for me.
Times reporter Mikael Wood believes that Wallen is singing about how he’s privileged, thus making his life and career easier.
“Wallen’s realization about white male privilege, in other words, is that it feels like a blessing. Which of course, it is,” Wood writes.
To provide a little context for Wood’s comments, he is referring to an incident that happened two years in which Wallen was caught on camera saying the N-word to a friend after a night of drinking in February of 2021, for which Wallen later apologized. This came roughly a month after the release of his second album, “Dangerous.”
Wallen’s record label - Big Loud - indefinitely suspended its relationship with Wallen after hearing about the incident, and the cancel mob came for his head. Everyone thought this would significantly affect the reception of “Dangerous,” but the opposite happened. Fans rallied around Morgan and made the album shattered multiple records and became one of the most successful in music history.
As of January 2023, “Dangerous” was in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 for 100 weeks (a record), and a combined 28 tracks earned double-platinum, platinum, or gold status. Now, he’s back two years later with another well-received album.
All of this led Wood to believe that Wallen was using his song to praise some perceived form of privilege that has helped him be successful in life. After all, how else can you explain a white man being as successful as him after being caught making a boneheaded comment?
If Wood listened to the rest of the song, he’d realize that Wallen was simply being thankful that he's matured from his young-adult mindset and is thankful he’s got a woman in his life that loves him.
The third verse says:
You look up and here you are on the flip side of crazy
It's something more than lucky stars you thank when you kiss your baby
Always believed in God and angels in the sky
But never thought that I deserved an angel by my side
Nothing even sort of relating to white privilege here.
Furthermore, Wallen didn’t have to have his career derailed because of one comment. He issued a heartfelt apology after the incident and has seemed to make a good-faith effort to change his ways. Fans have respected his actions, and rewarded him with unwavering support.
Which, of course, is how it should be.
Most of the time, when people offer apologies for a stupid comment they make, they should be given a second chance to do better without being ruthlessly attacked or canceled. The fact Wallen got a lifeline -- and stayed successful afterwards -- is not indicative of white privilege, but a welcome reminder that we don’t always need to cancel people if they make a mistake.
Wood should consider these facts and get a new outlook on the situation.