Whoopi Goldberg began the discussion on the Thursday, July 20, episode of the talk show by calling out Aldean, 46, for the music video’s imagery paired with the song’s pro-gun messaging and racist undertones.
“He talks about life in a small town, and it’s different, and he chose these images,” Goldberg, 67, said. “He’s got folks from the Black Lives Matter movement, and he’s talking about people taking care of each other, and I find it so interesting that it never occurred to Jason or the writers that that’s what these folks were doing: They were taking care of the people in their town because they didn’t like what they saw.”
She continued: “Just like you talk about people taking care of each other in small towns, we do the same thing in big towns. You just have to realize that when you make it about Black Lives Matter, people kind of say, ‘Well, are you talking about Black people? What are you talking about here?'”
Following Goldberg’s passionate statement, cohost Alyssa Farah Griffin wanted to give Aldean the benefit of the doubt, believing that Aldean did not intend to “stoke division.” However, Griffin, 34, said the song couldn’t help but remind her of the February 2020 murder of Ahmaud Arbery — who was a “Black man in a small town in the South who got shot for doing nothing wrong.”
Both Sunny Hostin and Joy Behar went on to share their issues with the song and its alleged meanings. Behar, 80, called the song “deplorable” while Hostin, 54, couldn’t help but think about the struggles her parents faced growing up in the South.
“What was evoked for me was…. those sundown areas. My mother and father, because they were an interracial couple, were run out of South Carolina by the KKK,” she explained while her parents sat in the audience. “My father is still scarred from that experience … so don’t tell me that not only was he aware of what he was doing by using that imagery, he embraces that imagery. Unfortunately, this became the No. 1 song on U.S. iTunes. We have a problem in this country about race, and the biggest problem is we refuse to admit that it exists.”
“In the past 24 hours I have been accused of releasing a pro-lynching song (a song that has been out since May) and was subject to the comparison that I (direct quote) was not too pleased with the nationwide BLM protests. These references are not only meritless, but dangerous,” the musician tweeted on Tuesday, July 18. “There is not a single lyric in the song that references race or points to it — and there isn’t a single video clip that isn’t real news footage — and while I can try and respect others to have their own interpretation of a song with music — this one goes too far.”
After Hostin read the statement aloud on air, Goldberg slammed Aldean’s response. “It does go too far?” she replied. “You’ve gone too far.”