CMA jokes: Is Brad Paisley, and country music, racist?

Jokes from Country Music Association awards night hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley drew big applause with the audience, but mixed reviews on Twitter. 

Wade Payne/Invision/AP
Hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood speak onstage at the 48th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn.

In their seventh run hosting the Country Music Association Awards, Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley scored major laughs for jokes touching on Taylor Swift, the midterm elections, and Ebola, but were served mixed reviews on remarks some found racist.

Underwood described Swift's recent exit from country as inducing "Postpartum Taylor Swift Disorder," or PPTSD.

"President Obama does not care about Postpartum Taylor Swift Disorder," Paisley quipped, which Underwood followed with: "I'm pretty sure that's why the Democrats lost the senate."

Her line drew sustained cheers from the crowd.

The duo sang a version of Dolly Parton's "Jolene" – "Quarantine" – and Paisley apparently pleased the crowd when he noted the ABC series "Black-ish" would not be airing because of the CMAs.

"If you were expecting to see the show 'Black-ish,' this ain't it," he said. "In the meantime I hope you're enjoying 'White-ish.'"

Per usual, Twitter weighed in immediately.

Some defended the host.

Other said the jokes pointed to a trend in the country music crowd.

"I didn't find Paisley's CMA joke racist, but it showed how country remains go-to symbol for whiteness," Charles Hughes offered.

While the stereotype of country fans is typically a rural, less educated, and a lower earning group of people than the general public – nothing short of "redneck" – research from CMA market research indicates otherwise. "The new demographic for country music fans puts them on average or above with most Americans," Billboard reported.

That same 2011 survey put 42 percent of the population as fan of country music, or about 95 million such fans in the United States.

Other tweeters called the criticism unwarranted.

Paisley came under fire earlier this year for "Accidental Racist," a song whose defendants say was supposed to be an "exploration of the state of race relations, with Paisley and LL Cool J offering different perspectives." But "each managed to anger critics with lyrics that were dissected in the blogosphere," according to Billboard. 

Paisley friend and business partner Craig DuBois told Billboard: 

It was disappointing because of how badly the song  [Accidental Racist] was misinterpreted. It came from a real honest place where he was wanting to address the reality of racial tension in America and especially in respect to the South. ... What we were not expecting is that the song would be misinterpreted and Brad would be cast as a racist in the blog world and the mainstream press."

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