Why Is "Accidental Racist" So Ridiculous? Because Brad Paisley and LL Cool J Just Won't Speak for Themselves

OC Weekly

So I finally listened to "Accidental Racist," and the upshot is that now I kind of want to write some Brad Paisley-LL Cool J fanfiction. Nothing weird -- that would be Brad Paisley/LL Cool J fanfiction, and there's a huge and scary difference -- just Brad Paisley and LL Cool J hanging out at the video store, or pulling wacky pranks on each other, or road-tripping to a My Chemical Romance show. (Every music fanfic is eventually about My Chemical Romance, for demographic reasons.)

I want to do that because I love writing fanfiction, but also because the sentiment in the song -- hey, let's try to understand each other and be pals, instead of hiding all this resentment -- is so nice. I want to hang out with these guys. Which doesn't explain why "Accidental Racist" the song is the most stunningly awkward, wrong-footed thing to hit the Internet since the Insane Clown Posse wrapped an teleological argument for pantheism around magnets.

More: Brad Paisley says it's okay to be the minority.

"Accidental Racist" -- you can read the lyrics here, and you absolutely should -- has already been compared to a lot of things, most notably (and successfully) Saturday Night Live's famous "Ebony & Ivory" parody. But it's most interesting in its own right because this is really about the exceptionally strange way in which a positive idea was strangled by its own weird execution.

Brad Paisley, after all, is not a Generic Pop-Country Cypher. He wrote a song about a white minority being a-okay; he's into the idea of coming to a cultural cease-fire with LL Cool J. A country song about being aware of what the Confederate flag represents to different groups of people should have pushed him permanently into the NPR listener's some-of-my-best-friends-are-country-music-singers firmament.

But the one he released just turned him into a meme.

It's a bad song, but I think it's bad for one specific reason. That is, I think this song would be salvageable if Paisley and LL Cool J were singing and rapping about only themselves and not, say, every last person racially or culturally associated with them.


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William Anthony Hagey
William Anthony Hagey

I think that to write this song in a self-absorbed fashion would miss the point of what they're trying to do. I get what you're saying about the dangers of speaking for others, but it's a risk they decided to take and I think they did it well.

Joe Rollins
Joe Rollins

Because i've never known a single person who wore the rebel flag and wasn't an ACTUAL RACIST.

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