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The Great Imaginary Willie Nelson Boycott of 2018

Sorry, Fox News and HuffPost.

|||Legacy/McClister/Splash / SplashNews/NewscomLegacy/McClister/Splash / SplashNews/NewscomCountry legend Willie Nelson is headlining a benefit concert for Beto O'Rourke, the Texas Democrat trying to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. The move isn't exactly surprising, considering Nelson's long history of largely left-leaning political activism. Yet Fox News, HuffPost, and The Washington Post, among other outlets, are now claiming that "furious" fans are "crying treason" and "abandoning" Nelson over it.

As is often the case, the alleged Willie backlash is overblown. Some fans are complaining about the concert online, but someone is always complaining about something online. So we get several stories that quote an angry Facebooker who said that years of smoking weed must have taken their toll on Nelson, and we get several that cite a tweet disavowing "that hippie guitarist who supports that damn socialist," but we don't get any making the case that any sort of serious backlash or boycott is underway.

As some of my colleagues observed in a recent podcast, many of today's outrage cycles begin with a few people carrying out trivial acts of protest, which then get played up as social media intensifies their voices. Like other recent alarmist stories, such as the fear that neo-Nazis are using Fortnite to recruit impressionable schoolchildren, this is nothing for Willie to worry about.

Photo Credit: Legacy/McClister/Splash / SplashNews/Newscom

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  • Eddy||

    I guess this is an improvement. In the old days when journalists were just feeling too lazy to leave the house (or the bar), they'd make stuff up. Now, they just quote some Twitter posts, which actually exist, then speculate about The Significance Of It All (and then after ten minutes of labor-intensive research and reporting they order another round).

  • Untermensch||

    This seemed to be literally everything CNN did on their website for a few years: Pick a topic and post a few quotes from random blowhards on Twitter and proclaim the Next Big Thing.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    My goodness. It's like Willie said he's ashamed the senator is from Texas, or something.

  • Rich||

    many of today's outrage cycles begin with a few people carrying out trivial acts of protest, which then get played up as social media intensifies their voices.

    I say, and I'm sure Fist agrees, we boycott Reason until they retract this statement. Who's with me?!

  • Eddy||

    I'll cancel the boycott if they fix me a sandwich.

  • Longtobefree||

    How can I agree when I am not here because of the Reason boycott?

  • MoreFreedom||

    I like Reason too much to protest it, even if a few contributors aren't up to journalistic standards and forget libertarian principles in their articles. Besides it adds a bit to the fair and balanced motto (of Fox fame) via promotion of something of a non-libertarian point of view.

    At 85, any boycott of Nelson seems unlikely to have much influence on him (though will affect his heirs' income) though I don't know his financial situation now (he showing a proclivity to outspend his income). Having been the beneficiary of a found roach in a golf cart at his golf club in Perdernales TX, I won't decrease my purchases of his recordings which amounts to one CD in the past 30 years. In other words, I'm not contributing to his income anyway. He's entitled to his opinion about O'Rourke, which I don't support.

  • Tony||

    Gee, and Willie Nelson and Ted Cruz seemed like such a good match.

  • Eddy||

    They were once roommates in hopes they could get an odd-couple reality show going. It didn't work out.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Well, next time they should cast Willie as the slob and Ted as the neat freak.

  • DiegoF||

    Meh, hindsight is 20/20.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    I'm sure Willie really gives a shit what other people think of him.

    "Willie hears ya. Willie don't care."

  • Echospinner||

    Willie Nelson can do whatever the hell he wants and always has.

  • Shirley Knott||

    For which we love him.

  • Echospinner||

    Amen

  • Michael S. Langston||

    The vast majority of Willie's fans have known about his political beliefs for at least 20 years.

    So the reason the boycott won't work is because everyone still a fan already knows and most of those boycotting quite being fans when they found out years ago. Translation: lots of publicly vocal statements but no change in fan base.

    It's like outing him as a musician and expecting people to see him differently. Only hidden and previously unknown relevations can have any real impact to public figures, but this simply isn't one of those cases.

  • ||

    Yeah - if you're politically conservative, you don't really have the luxury of limiting your entertainment consumption to people who share your political views. I mean, I can listen to as much Brahms as the next guy, but at some point it gets obsessive.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    I mean, I can listen to as much Brahms as the next guy, but at some point it gets obsessive.

    I thought Wagner was the composer of choice amongst conservatives. /I keed, I keed

  • ||

    Not to give a pedantic response to a joke, but interestingly enough, Wagner was a socialist, an admirer of Marx, and was exiled from Germany for his participation in the 1848 uprisings. Not that any of that stopped him from living in a palace like a king or claiming to be royal (hence Nietzsche's famous description of Wagner as "a case").

    Brahms was a Liberal (i.e. supporter of free markets and generally a bit of a bon vivant) that Wagner publicly smeared as a Jew Lover (his best-friend-other-than-Clara-Schumann was Joseph Joachim, a Jewish violinist). As financially successful as he was, he never moved out of the slum he lived in as a youth, and really didn't get along with aristocrats (although everyone else loved him).

    But it was actually my hatred of Wagner for political reasons that kept me from admitting his undeniable musical genius for a long time before I decided that most creative geniuses are insufferable assholes and you can't listen to anything if you're going to let politics enter into it. Even Brahms, to whom Wagner was an unbelievable jerk, called for a moment of silence upon hearing of Wagner's death, saying "a master has passed."

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    It is certainly true, as the American humorist Edgar Wilson Nye said, that "Wagner's music is better than it sounds", even if it does not, as Woody Allen said, make you want to get up and invade Poland.

  • CDRSchafer||

    I like Willie's music. Willie knows how to make good drinking music. Like other celebrities, he doesn't know crap about anything else. I don't care who he endorses and neither should anyone else.

  • ||

    Like other celebrities, he doesn't know crap about anything else.

    ^ This x1000. To paraphrase Ray Davies, you write one catchy tune and suddenly everyone wants to know what you think about politics and religion. These are exactly the last people whose opinions should be taken seriously, except for maybe the drunks who hang out in the alley behind the 7/11.

  • Echospinner||

    Willie Nelson did not write one catchy tune. Far from it. He can do near anything in music. With a microphone and a beat up guitar.

    He is not so much a composer, he has performed and recorded the catalog of American music. Not only that but he has lived on his own terms.

  • DiegoF||

    I don't think the suggestion was that Willie had done nothing but write one catchy tune!

  • ||

    Davies was talking about himself (and selling himself considerably short).

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    I don't know what you mean by "catchy", but if Willie had written nothing but "Crazy" he'd be a country composer for the ages.

  • NashTiger||

    He can do near anything? No he can't.
    He's a singer/songwriter who can't carry a tune

  • Fancylad||

    Expecting wealthy celebrities to endorse anyone other than the Democrats is foolish. The parvenus always vote in the interests of the haute bourgeoisie .
    It's weirdos like Clint Eastwood, James Woods and Roseanne, who vote along with the proles, that are baffling.

  • Longtobefree||

    A small disagreement - Willie knows weed, dude.

  • josh||

    If I have any pet peeve about news -and I have many, actually- it's the tendency to think noticing a bunch of people complaining on social media passes for investigative journalism.

    With 325 million people in this country, if you can't prove that at least -what, 0.5%?- genuinely care about something, then maybe you should use more time to actually talk about actual issues, instead of the fact that some entertainer disappointed you.

    **see the pathetic Neil Armstrong movie controversy**

  • Rat on a train||

    Imaginary boycott? I'll join that.
    #I'mDoingSomething

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    #MeToo

    Wait...I think that might've been taken.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Doesn't Willie still owe the IRS or something?

  • DiegoF||

    I can't believe it's been more than 15 years since this awesomeness.

  • Reverendcaptain||

    You'd have to be a moron to not know Willie is a lefty. I'm not even a fan but his political leanings have been clear for decades.

  • Robert||

    Why do I always mix up Willie Nelson, Chuck Norris, and Ted Nugent? Do all "N" names get mixed up? Is it the beards?

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Conflating Willie Nelson and Ted Nugent indicates an immediate trip to the emergency room.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Or at the very least an urgent need to refill one's meds

  • TruthWeb||

    No one cares what Willie Nelson's politics are! Sit back and enjoy the music!

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Frankly, I don't give a shit what any performer's politics are unless and until he or she starts shoving them in my face. If you want me to be more conscious of your politics than your art, fine. I'll blithely ignore both.

  • Mr Happy Man||

    It's been known throughout his entire career that Willie Nelson supports leftists. If you're just getting around to boycott him due to his politics, just as he is doing his very last performances, you're way, way late in doing so.

  • JonJett||

    I thought all these types of protest are covered as an up swell of moral conviction? Wonder what is wrong with the protest? I doubt there is much here as in most all the other cases. I am a bit tired of knowing where a journalist stands on a particular issue. As for Willie? I bought the IRS tapes which if you could listen to it, its an indicator you are a fan for life. I am more like the detective Monk character, "Not Willie".

    Next time you see a protest outside of Chick-filet ask yourself this question. If the manager came outside and said FREE CHICKEN SANDWICHES and you know every protest sign would be dropped on the ground as they pack the store, call BS on that "movement" too.

  • RightStuff||

    Nelson blew his brains out with drugs early in his career. That he supports O'Roark is just further evidence that he doesn't have good sense. Feel sorry for him.

  • Conchfritters||

    Yeah, Willie is 85 and still doing concerts. What a waste of a life. Too bad those drugs cut him down at such an early age.

  • ||

    I wonder Willie will perform his homophobic song, " Ain't Going Down On Brokeback Mountain" at O'Rourke's rally

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acQ072Ep90A " That Shit Ain't Right "

  • HP Austin||

    It makes a difference to me. Beto (actually Robert Francis) O'Rourke, who is not at all Hispanic, is in favor of open borders, gun control, and showing disrespect to the national anthem and the U.S. flag. He supports players protesting while the national anthem is played and demanded that a VFW hall remove a U.S. flag before his speech, which they refused to do. O'Rourke casually drops F-bombs in front of women and children at his rallies, as videos show. He is a socialist sleazeball and will not be elected.

    Willie Nelson has wisely avoided taking sides in elections to this point, but by doing so now he has permanently alienated conservatives. Nelson is a socialist who has finally hoisted his true colors and it will not be forgotten.

  • Longtobefree||

    "Willie Nelson has wisely avoided taking sides in elections to this point,"
    Farm Aid,
    Weed,
    Biofuels, (farms again)
    9/11,
    Dennis Kucinich,
    Iraq,
    Suing the Texas Democatic Party,
    Habitat for Horses,
    LGBT,
    And more that I do not recall.

    Maybe technically he has only taken sides in a couple of actual elections, but he has been a political figure all his life.
    (He may be a covert Libertarian if you look closely)

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Willie wants to live his own life his own way and is perfectly happy for you to live your own life your own way. He does not like Big Brother ("Me and Paul") and thinks it's worth his time to support with his music those who are struggling in ways he can identify with (Farm Aid). If that makes him a covert libertarian, fine. But most of all he is a man whose life and career have spanned the whole range of country, rock and pop music (generally but not always successfully), among other things helping to remind us what a brilliant country/western singer Ray Charles was ("Seven Spanish Angels").

    It's not worth getting into a tizzy about his politics. He's 85 years old and will be gone soon enough, and when he passes we shall never see his like again (an overused phrase that truly applies in his case). Appreciate him and his music for what it is and let the rest go.

  • Longtobefree||

    Who gives a damn?
    Music is music, politics is politics, and they have gone together forever.
    If you like the music, listen to the music. If you don't like the politics, listen to the music.

  • DJF||

    But the real question is whether Willie Nelson has ever used the White Power symbol "A OK"

  • gah87||

    How about the BOK symbol? Pretty close .

  • snowhawk||

    I can assure you having been close that Will is not racist period.

  • snowhawk||

    Hilarious!!! It's as simple as Will is going to be friendly with any rope smoker, communist RAT or not, and keep a lot of space between himself and the Law and Order bunch like Cruz.

  • snowhawk||

    Hilarious!!! It's as simple as Will is going to be friendly with any rope smoker, communist RAT or not, and keep a lot of space between himself and the Law and Order bunch like Cruz.

  • KeithO||

    So, you say it's overblown, mock news outlets, and then write ZERO about how it is overblown, you know, with examples cited... Shitty mini-article, keep trying though, you'll get there.

  • texexpatriate||

    It wouldn't be hard for me to boycott Willie Nelson. His "music" stinks almost as bad as his voice sounds. I once lived on an island on the coast of Texas in a small town where Willie and his fellows would come to drink and carouse and where locals paid him no attention at all---which likely was the reason he liked to come there. Willie is proof that a man of marginal talent and a poor voice can earn a lot of money.

  • ipsquire||

    OMG. The manufactured outrage reporting is coming from Yankee liberal media writers who've never listened to Willie and merely assume that country music is lockstep with 'conservative" politics. The intended audience isn't Willie Nelson fanbase, it's other ignorant Yankees, who will feel superior upon reading about this because they've converted another presumed conservative to their obviously morally superior position.

  • vek||

    I've never looked into it, because I don't care... But the real question is, is Willie kind of an old school moderate, pro union, pro working class Democrat, who just hasn't realized the Democrats have gone off the deep end? Or is he a kill all the white people, ban electricity, let's raise Lenin and put him in charge of the world, crazy SJW Democrat?

    There's a difference. I can deal with the old school pro working class ones, provided they're not too nuts. They tend to be sane people in most ways, with a few misguided views on some economic issues... But even many of them can be swayed by reason on issues.

    I like some of Willie's music, he has some classics. But as mentioned, I don't really give a shit what some idiot musician thinks about politics. They're mostly morons, so you just have to let it slide if they're not too nuts.

  • NashTiger||

    He's in between.

    He likes to run with fellow dummies like Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp, lefty moonbats like Neil Young, and commie swine like Pete Seeger

  • vek||

    Well, on the plus side, if he's not 100% on board with the SJW agenda, he'll probably get denounced as a Nazi any minute now and be forced to realize the error of his ways!

  • Rockabilly||

    Poor Willie is so poor his guitar is held together by what looks like a bungee cord or what have you.

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