Garth Brooks has sold over 3 million copies of his latest album, No Fences; he walked off with six Academy of Country Music Awards late last month. Plus he’s just about the most polite, humble, gosh-darn likable superstar around. But can he get his latest video played on country music’s foremost TV outlet, the Nashville Network, available in 53 million homes?
Nope. TNN has banned Brooks’ video of his new song, The Thunder Rolls, because it contains scenes of domestic violence. Brooks sings about a woman who suspects her husband of having an affair; the video portrays her as a battered wife who picks up a pistol just after her husband has beaten her once again. The man turns to advance on his little daughter and — ka-POW! — his wife plugs him, as the home audience (in theory) cheers. The husband is played by nice, polite ol’ Garth himself, disguised by a wispy beard and dark wig.
So a villain gets his comeuppance. What’s the problem? ”We wanted to be more responsible in airing it,” says TNN spokesperson Jerry Bailey. ”We felt the video needs to be put in a proper context, that it couldn’t be intermingled…with our regular programming.” The network asked Brooks to add a statement to the video about the dangers of domestic violence. The singer wrote and filmed the statement but ultimately decided against adding it to the video. ”It doesn’t bother me that TNN and CMT (Country Music Television, also owned by Opryland USA) decided not to run the video,” Brooks says. ”I’m not angry with them.”
Without the controversy, this production would rate about a C: a well-made, melodramatic video that implies an important message. As the first country video to fall victim to politically-correct primness, ”The Thunder Rolls” deserves an upgrade. B+