Oliver Anthony Explains The Negativity Of Social Media
via Oliver Anthony Music / Youtube
If you have a strong interest in local politics or enjoy uplifting country music, you may be familiar with the emerging country music artist who independently created his own music, the red-bearded Oliver Anthony.
Anthony unexpectedly rose to prominence when his track “Rich Men North of Richmond” gained widespread popularity on YouTube in August 2023. The song featured lyrics that resonated with people from various political backgrounds and briefly became a unifying anthem.
In his brief career, the country singer Oliver Anthony has stirred quite a bit of controversy. Only a month after “Rich Men North of Richmond” catapulted the Virginia-born artist to national fame, Anthony generated more buzz by suddenly canceling and rescheduling a Knoxville concert due to steep ticket prices.
And more recently, he once again stirred the surly pot that is X (or Twitter for those who stayed loyal) by sharing his thoughts about the nation and the negativity in social media.
“It’s depressing how social media makes us all hate each other”
The country singer ruffled the feathers of the irritable blue bird by posting “We’re currently too distracted / divided to effectively function.”
Anthony then added “We still have our First and Second Amendments and communities filled with wonderful people. If we can come together, the lack of leadership and the deterioration of government policies don’t have to affect our communities any longer.”
Shortly thereafter, Anthony returned to the discussion to share his insights on social media. He expressed, “It’s depressing how social media makes us all hate each other.”
The country star went on “90% of posts even here are negative and belittling. It’s the parasitic way socials have captured our attention span and our emotions that’s caused a lot of our problems as a nation. We’re complacent and distracted.”
He’s no stranger to the toxicity of social media
Anthony is no newcomer to the toxic atmosphere generated by social media. Earlier this year, his viral breakthrough hit “Rich Men North of Richmond” thrust the singer into the heart of a social media controversy.
The controversy surrounding the song stemmed from the unexpected intersection of its content with political and social issues. Initially, the song appeared to be an improbable point of contention for political conservatives, as it included themes critical of taxation and the political elite.
However, it also took a controversial stance on welfare, with the now-infamous lines, “If you’re 5-foot-3 and you’re 300 pounds, taxes ought not to pay for your bags of fudge rounds.”
“Rich Men North of Richmond” ignited strong emotions from individuals representing both ends of the political spectrum. On the right, some aimed to wield the song as a weapon against the government and those with lower socioeconomic status, particularly those seeking government assistance.
“Rich Men North of Richmond” became bigger
The conservative media consulting firm Reach Digital’s co-founder, Jason Howerton, was among the first right-wing pundits to endorse Anthony’s song and its message. In the days that followed, prominent commentators like Joe Rogan, Laura Ingraham, and Matt Walsh publicly praised the song.
The song’s notoriety reached a significant milestone when it was mentioned during the first GOP 2024 United States presidential election debate. Moderator Martha MacCallum asked Florida Governor Ron DeSantis why he believed “Rich Men North of Richmond” was having such a profound impact on people’s lives.
In response to this, DeSantis alluded to his concerns regarding President Joe Biden’s economic policies and the numerous policy disputes that had marked the past four years of American history.
In an effort to further the discussion on sociopolitical divisions in America and clarify any misconceptions about himself, Oliver Anthony released a YouTube video that extended the conversation initiated by his song.
The beginnings of the controversial grassroots hero
Way before he became a controversial grassroots hero, Oliver Anthony was Chris Lunsford. This future country star adopted his grandfather’s name when he embarked on his musical journey, choosing to go by the moniker Oliver Anthony Music.
This decision was a heartfelt tribute to his grandfather, who had endured and persevered through the challenges of the Depression era. In 2021, he delved into the world of country folk music, both as a songwriter and a singer, and in 2022, he introduced his first self-produced track.
With a resonator guitar in hand and his distinctive raspy voice, accompanied by his trademark red beard, he unveiled his debut song, “Ain’t Gotta Dollar”, which he shared on YouTube on September 10, 2022.
The track achieved notable success, reaching No. 8 on Canada Digital Songs, 82 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and 21 on the US Hot Country Songs. Oliver Anthony Music continued to release subsequent singles, including titles like “Rich Man’s Gold”, “I Want To Go Home”, “Doggonit”, and “Long Gone”, until a video of Anthony performing “Rich Men North of Richmond” became a viral hit.