Bulldog Bash headliner Hardy’s antics reinforce negative Southern stereotypes

HARDY, the 2021 Bulldog Bash headliner, was no commonly used name (outside of the country music realm) before the announcement of this year's lineup. Since the development of the annual show, many have wondered what HARDY will depict within his performance. A general concern has presented itself regarding what HARDY genuinely represents. His musical repertoire consists of rowdy references to "country women," the misuse of alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and trucks. His music ties into the stereotypical misrepresentation of what lies within the entirety of the southeastern U.S. These aspects draw up trouble because of the upcoming portrayal of them which will be shared among university students.

What message is HARDY sending to students when praising the "little Skoal mint dipper" in "WHERE YA AT" or claiming in "TRUCK" that a person can be judged by their own vehicle? What ideals and messages is HARDY looking to send through his "redneck" persona?

HARDY's music appears to incorporate the commonly noted trope of a temperamental Southern woman. Natalie Morin of Mic.com believes this overused portrait of Southern women painted by the country genre should be eradicated. HARDY's Mississippi nativity makes this topic especially relevant as it connects his audience specifically to Mississippi women. His lyrics allow them to be characterized as untamed, rough around the edges and angry. By aligning this description to a Southern woman, they are being unfairly grouped and identified by listeners solely based on these expected traits. Morin makes the analogy that if all Southern women fit that archetype, then "all California women would know how to surf."

The ideas being portrayed through music are important, as Pavle Marinkovic of Medium.com explains how music can influence the way we see life, our emotions and behaviors. When we feed ourselves music involving violence, substance abuse or stereotyping, it can cause our behaviors and vision to adjust accordingly. For example, when HARDY sings about drowning his sorrows in alcohol, it can influence individuals to believe it is okay to handle sadness in destructive ways. The concepts being presented to an impressionable group of adults is important to consider.

It is also important to note what that particular person represents morally. According to Jessica Nicholson of Billboard, HARDY has recently spoken out against the Country Music Awards for their decision to disqualify Morgan Wallen from attending this year's ceremony regardless of his collaborative nomination. Earlier this year, Wallen was recorded using a racial slur and has received widespread backlash ever since. HARDY seems to misunderstand that every action has a consequence. It is biased to disregard the behavior of a friend and not hold them accountable for wrongdoings. He should recognize how Black country artists might find it disrespectful if measures were not taken and Wallen was able to attend regardless. How are Black students at Mississippi State University being represented through the invitation of HARDY?

Country music can be portrayed in an appropriate fashion, but one should beware when relying on an artist built upon stereotypical themes and controversial thoughts because of the influences, opinions and portrait it may paint as acceptable to an audience.

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