Specialization and high-productivity? Try that in a small town!
The deep roots of the urban/rural divide
It’s not really my genre of music and it’s definitely not my politics, but I appreciate that Jason Aldean’s song “Try That In A Small Town” does what art can sometimes do — express how things feel to a person who’s very different than you.
A lot of listeners hear bigoted or hateful intent in the song’s lyrics (even without considering his poor choice of music video location), but I think it’s actually instructive to take what Aldean is saying at face value without attempting to discern his intentions. In his account, the great thing about small towns is that they have this close-knit quality of universal surveillance and comprehension. If you transgress, there will be no bystanders. Everyone knows who you are — and if they don’t, they know that you’re a stranger who doesn’t belong — and everyone knows the person you transgressed against. What’s more, they all know each other so none of them can get away with shirking their responsibility to punish you. It’s the ultimate fuck around and find out scenario, and to Aldean, it is completely unproblematic.