Striking a Chord: “Rich Men North of Richmond”
It has been a few weeks since “Rich Men North of Richmond” released to near instant universal acclaim. It is currently my song of the year, although my favorite band, Ninja Sex Party, is set to release the second single off their next original comedy album soon. It’s called “These Nuts” because of course it is.
It quickly replaced “Try That in a Small Town” by James Aldean as the top song on the iTunes country charts before premiering as the number one song on the Billboard charts. The artist, Oliver Anthony Music (real name Christopher Anthony Lunsford,) is the first artist in the history of ever to accomplish this feat with zero prior charting. That’s insane.
The song struck a chord with me instantly. I knew from the first couple of seconds that it was something special. I was actually off work the day it started gaining steam, a Friday. I listened to it all day on repeat, especially after it was added to iTunes that afternoon. Hell, I’m listening to it on repeat as I write this! And I wasn’t the only one this song spoke to. Across the ideological and socioeconomic spectrum, this song evoked strong emotions related to many people’s frustrations with the American government.
I make no bones about my general distaste for the two-tiered justice system that exists in America. There’s the courts for the elite and the one for everyone else. You can almost get away with anything if you can afford an unlimited legal budget. And rich people get the best lobbyists, as far as individuals go, allowing them to write the tax code or virtually any law to suit their rent-seeking purposes to protect their bottom line. A convergence of money, influence, and power.
The song speaks to this general frustration. Rich people and the politicians who listen to them (rich people aren’t the main problem; it is how easily corruptible career bureaucrats and elected officials are, money talks) are afforded things in America everyone should have access to, or no one should have access to. And there exist few ways to fix this that wouldn’t be enforced by those same corrupt career bureaucrats and elected officials.
This didn’t stop both sides of the political spectrum from sniping at Oliver Anthony as well as attempting to co-opt his message. Just a whirlwind of steer manure. The first 2024 GOP primary debate used the song as part of the first question! Oliver Anthony has stated in interviews that he is dead center politically. After this article was written but before it was posted, Oliver Anthony was seen pictured with RFK, Jr. for some reason; an endorsement or otherwise was not even implied. It is neither a right-wing nor a left-wing song, but it is a protest song. A genre of music with a storied history, both good and ill.
Now, professional grifters and media personalities (but I repeat myself) had a problem with the basic message of the song. National Review Online published a piece with a very ragebait headline I refuse to link here or even say the name of the writer. I only bring this up at an attempt at balance. Because a majority of the stupid criticism of this song came from the left.
Everyone from Rainn Wilson to MovieBob had a take on this one, so let’s reap this whirlwind.
Rainn Wilson, a multi-millionaire off of the success of one of the biggest sitcoms of all time who will almost surely never reach the same level of success in any other acting he ever does again much like Michael Richards with Cosmo Kramer, criticized the song in that way only a multi-millionaire liberal actor can. By wondering why the song wasn’t about billionaires not paying anything in taxes. The song is about them! But also, the politicians that write the tax code that allows for those same well-connected elitist rich to pay nothing using complicated legal loopholes that will likely always exist. Washington loves the carve-outs for its friends. Joe Rogan said it right (when Oliver Anthony went on his program); nothing funnier than a millionaire complaining about billionaires.
Because most of the sniping at Oliver Anthony mostly just complained the song wasn’t about their hobby horses, without actually addressing his complaints. By wondering why a song under four minutes doesn’t bring up every possible problem with Washington; oh, it must suck!
MovieBob had issue with the Fudge Rounds segment of the song, as did most people who wanted to accuse Oliver Anthony of racism. Race is not brought up in the song at all. There are plenty of white people on welfare. Oliver Anthony lives in the rural South. I’m sure most of “the obese milking welfare” he encounters are white people. By assuming a racial angle, one only reveals their own racism, usually of a paternalistic persuasion to deny agency to millions of people, as what happened here.
MovieBob seriously argued on Twitter that we shouldn’t have a problem with the poor on welfare using food stamps and other such government entitlements to buy sugar-laden snacks. Are you kidding me?!? Intergenerational dependency on government handouts is a problem. If you’re on welfare for over a year, you’re basically a ward of the state. This includes those on Social Security and Medicare in my book, just so you’re aware. There should either be zero strings on the handouts we give or a lot of them. I am of the opinion we’d save a lot of money if we just cut a single check a month to those who qualify for welfare and leave it at that. With the advent of computers and stringent record-keeping, it shouldn’t be hard to nail down someone’s cash flow, assets, and income level to determine what level of taxpayer money they qualify for. The IRS already keeps track of all of this stuff.
But even if there were zero strings attached to taxpayer largesse, I can still criticize the choices people make with the money I pay for! You just don’t want the bad decisions you have no problem with being judged by people you don’t like.
I could keep going through all the pointless criticism of this song, but why? It covers a very basic premise, that the elites of the country have far too much power and virtually zero accountability, which quite a lot of people agree with, almost implicitly.
But the elites, and people like MovieBob who pretend to be, can’t take a goring of their sacred cow: that one must never question the elite. The betters of society must be smarter than you, so they should have near total control over everyone on every topic. Unless they’re Republicans. Apparently.