Flipping The Coin For Chesney

Posted by Lisa Ann Schleipfer on 05/23/2008
We've all heard the story by now. This week, Country Music star Kenny Chesney won his fourth straight Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year award and promptly announced he didn't think how he won the award was fair.

A few days later, a blogger for the L.A. Times put readers to a vote: Whether Kenny Chesney should return his Entertainer of the Year Award.

Seriously? Seriously.

The blog also called Chesney a hypocrite, because he had banners on the Web asking fans to go vote for him as Entertainer of the Year.

Other media outlets picked up negative press, with headlines like: "Is Kenny Chesney Digging A Deeper Hole?" and "Kenney Chesney Will Be Using His Award As A Door Stop."

Spinning, spinning, spinning, spinning. It's unbelievable. It's dazzling. Makes you wonder: Does the media stop to see the other side of the coin anymore? Do they read the entire story? Did they read all of Chesney's comments (there were many) before the splashy headlines were dry?

Here's the other side(s) of that coin. As for calling Chesney out as a hypocrite, well, a few quick web searches would tell any fledgling blogger that all five Entertainer of the Year nominees had a promotion directing fans to vote for them. One nominee (Rascal Flatts) had a free MP3 download for a day.

Did reporters not stop and think about the music industry as a business? Did it escape them that a record label would never ignore the chance to promote their artist for an award that would inevitable increase the artist's exposure and record sales of that artist? Even if Chesney wanted to, not asking fans to vote was probably not an option.

And all of this—to promote, not to promote—is entirely Chesney's point. Taking the ACM's highest honor and having fans vote on it would be like determining the Oscar's Best Picture award via an online poll. It shouldn't be a popularity contest. It should be determined by peers. A more appropriate choice might have been to have a new award designated to be determined by fans.

More to the point, Chesney is entitled to his opinion. And how stalwart is this guy? He doesn't agree with the voting process for the award. He wins the award, via the process he doesn't agree with, and still stands up and tells everyone he doesn't agree with it. That, my fellow Country Hounds, is conviction.

Meanwhile Chesney has written a love letter this week to his fans. Do they buy it? Duh. We're talking about a man who, during the opening song of his summer tour, got his foot caught between a lift and the stage. He freed himself, stood up and began to sing.

Isn't that what makes a star?