Rich Men North of Richmond: The hit song that has divided the US!- OnMyWay Mobile App User News

Whatever the genuine musical appeal of Anthony’s song, it broke into the news and the culture in part because of its strong political message. However, in a video posted the day before Rich Men dropped, Anthony said: “I sit pretty dead centre on politics”. Since the viral success of his track, he has not been giving interviews and did not respond to a request from BBC Culture for comment.

Rich Men North of Richmond is the latest in a series of controversial cultural flashpoints that highlight the ties between pop culture and the strongly divided US political landscape. Other recent examples include Jason Aldean’s country hit Try That In A Small Town, with a video that had images of violence and Black Lives Matter protests, and lyrics that suggest “good old boy” Americans can maintain law themselves. The music critic Jon Caramanica characterised the song on his New York Times podcast as “dog-whistle stuff, red meat for the [conservative] base”. However Aldean denied that the song had anything to do with race and was instead a celebration of small-town values, calling out the criticism as “not only meritless, but dangerous”.

The recently-released film Sound of Freedom has also become an unlikely US hit, with some critics taking its anti-child-trafficking story at its word, while others suggested it echoed the unfounded QAnon conspiracy theory about liberals condoning sex crimes against children. Alejandro Monteverde, the director of Sound of Freedom, has given interviews saying how heartbroken he is at the false QAnon label.

Oliver Anthony’s Rich Men North of Richmond represents the image of the rural, put-upon white working-class hero, and the song reflects the narrative of grievance espoused by some right-wing politicians. His lyrics describe: “the obese milkin’ welfare” as well as saying: “I wish politicians would look out for miners/ And not just minors on an island somewhere”, which some have suggested is a reference to the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. In another part of his introductory video, Anthony says the issue of child abuse made him decide to speak out, “when I started to see that becoming normalised.” Similarly, when the Aldean video caused a backlash, his wife, Brittany Aldean, defended him on Instagram, and asked, “How about instead of creating stories why not focus on the real ones, such as child trafficking?” The idea that child abuse has been ignored or “normalised” again echoes the common but unevidenced conspiratorial QAnon narrative, as some critics have pointed out.


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