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Liberal Outrage Is Big Business ... for Republicans

By Dustin Rowles | Social Media | May 20, 2024 |

By Dustin Rowles | Social Media | May 20, 2024 |


Rolling Stone released an interview today with Kid Rock — aka Bob Ritchie, the wealthy kid from Michigan masquerading as a redneck — in which the musician gets belligerently drunk, waves around a gun, and repeatedly uses the N-word. At the end of the interview, however, he tells the journalist David Peisner, “Just write the most horrific article about me. Do it. It helps me.”

A few years ago, a white musician using the N-word multiple times might have been a cause for cancellation, but if there’s anything that we’ve learned recently, it’s that liberal outrage has only helped the careers of MAGA-Republicans who are the targets of that outrage. There’s a reason Bob Ritchie wanted Peisner to write a horrific article about him. It’s because it will make him wealthier and even more popular with a subset of Trump-supporting Americans who love to rebel against the establishment, even if it means risking their lives (refusing vaccines), spending time in prison (storming the Capitol), committing murder (see Kyle Rittenhouse), or bragging about wearing adult diapers. These same people who complain about inflation, student debt relief, and economic anxiety still have plenty of money to spend to support bigots.

Bob Ritchie certainly found this out when he became a liberal boogeyman not only by expressing transphobia but also by instigating a Bud Light boycott because a trans woman received a can of beer with her picture on it. He would later walk back that boycott, much to the disappointment of the MAGA-faithful, which may be why he’s angling to win back their affection by spewing racial slurs.

It’s not just Ritchie, either. Just last week, Harrison Butker, the kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs, gave a commencement speech where he suggested that women belong in the kitchen and that being gay is a sin, among other things. Has the outrage in response hurt Butker’s career? Or his bottom line? No. His jersey became the best-selling Chiefs jersey, something that has probably never been the case for a kicker.

Likewise, does anyone remember what happened to country musician Morgan Wallen in 2021 after he was caught on camera using the N-word? His album sales surged — he remained at the top of the charts for seven weeks after the controversy. His album became the best-selling of the year, and it won Album of the Year at the Academy of Country Music. He also won Favorite Male Artist at the Country Now awards. Getting drunk and dropping a racial epithet was the best thing to ever happen to his career.

The same thing happened to Jason Aldean. His song, “Try That in a Small Town,” was accused of being a coded endorsement of racism and lynching, and the video for the song was pulled from CMT. The next week, the song shot to number two on the charts before rising to number one, becoming the biggest hit of Aldean’s career.

So-called cancel culture is the best thing to ever happen to these people. Indeed, the reason why conservatives (mostly) continue to rail against cancel culture is because it’s the quickest route to success. It’s a successful formula by now: Publicly say something racist, sexist, or homophobic, endure a day or two of negative headlines, and come out of the other end wealthier and more popular. They’re even doing it intentionally now. In addition to Ritchie asking a journalist to write about him negatively, stand-up comedian Matt Rife flipped his entire brand by making a domestic violence joke during his most recent special. What did he get in return? Netflix’s most popular stand-up special and a deal for two more specials and his own sitcom on Netflix.

The business strategy, of course, puts liberals, Democrats, and others who are not bigots in a bind. We obviously want to call out and condemn racism, sexism, homophobia, and other bigotry, but in doing so, we’re inexplicably rewarding bad behavior because MAGA cultists live in a bizarro world where the unequal treatment of others is considered a positive. How do we even navigate a cultural environment where every indictment of a former president raises his approval rating? There may be value in putting more emphasis on elevating and supporting the voices, art, and perspectives of musicians, public figures, and creators from diverse backgrounds rather than letting the conversation be driven by the latest offensive provocation from MAGA-aligned celebrities.