‘Are you sitting down?’ Morgan Wallen discusses fallout since racist-slur controversy
The Morgan Wallen who appeared Friday on “Good Morning America” appeared more thoughtful than the guy who posted an awkward apology video in February, shortly after a recording surfaced of him shouting a racist slur at friends after a night of drinking.
It was the country musician’s first interview since TMZ released the recording and Wallen’s career came tumbling down after he uttered the N-word in the video.
“My manager called me probably two hours before the video came out. He’s like, ‘Are you sitting down?’” Wallen told “GMA” host Michael Strahan Friday. “No one’s ever called me and said that before.”
The 28-year-old country star was quickly suspended by his record label, removed from streaming services’ playlists and banned from the nation’s two largest radio networks, a TV network and the Billboard Music Awards. He checked himself into rehab and nixed a planned tour opening for country star Luke Bryan.
The whole time, however, loyal fans continued to buy and stream his music, voted him back onto a local Tennessee radio station and even put up billboards supporting him.
Here are six takeaways from Wallen’s “GMA” sitdown.
He explained what happened that night
Wallen told Strahan that some longtime friends were in town the weekend the video was taken and the group “figured we’d just go hard for the two or three days they were there.” The slur, he said, wasn’t used in a derogatory way but rather aimed at the girlfriend of a friend who was drunk. Wallen, who is white, was asking her to take care of the friend, because they were leaving.
“I don’t think it just ‘happened,’” he said. “You know, I was around some of my friends and we say dumb stuff together. In our minds, it’s playful.
“That sounds ignorant, but that’s really where it came from.”
He discussed the slur
When Strahan, who is Black, pushed Wallen on it, saying, “This isn’t the first time you’ve used the word,” the singer denied using it often.
“I wouldn’t say frequently,” Wallen said. “No, not frequently. It was just around this certain group of friends.” Later, he added, “I think I was just ignorant about it. I don’t think I sat down and was like, ‘Is this right or is this wrong?’”
“There are a lot of people who are gonna say, ‘OK, we’ve been drunk and we never used the word,’” Strahan said. “Even when you’re drunk, there are certain things you do and you don’t do.”
He copped to his
Wallen admitted he can’t fully understand the impact of the N-word on Black people when it’s used by white people. “I haven’t seen that with my eyes, that pain or that insignificant feeling that it makes you feel,” Wallen said.
“It’s a word that really — I’ve been called it — makes you mad,” Strahan said. “Makes you angry, doesn’t make you feel good at all. Do you understand why it makes Black people so upset?”
The “Whiskey Glasses” singer replied, “I don’t know how to put myself in their shoes, because I’m not (Black), but I do understand, especially when I say that I’m using it playfully or whatever — ignorantly — I understand that must sound like, ‘He doesn’t understand.’”