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Morgan Wallen’s country music star has been rising quickly over the last year. After the best summer of his career, the musician was slated to be the musical guest this weekend on Saturday Night Live. But after videos surfaced on social media this past weekend, showing the singer kissing fans and partying in Alabama without a mask on, the show has pulled Wallen from its lineup, citing COVID-19 protocols.
Wallen announced that he had been removed from Saturday’s slate in an Instagram video, where he apologized from his New York hotel room, adding, “I respect the show’s decision because I know I put them in jeopardy.” Throughout the two and a half minute video, Wallen gives an emotional rundown of the series’ decision, noting repeatedly that he had made an error this past weekend, despite not testing positive for COVID-19.
Obviously, there’s no precedent for how SNL should handle musical guests in COVID times, but there have been instances in which performers and guests have been cut. In 1986, The Replacements were banned for being too intoxicated during their SNL performance. A decade later, Rage Against the Machine was asked to leave the building after trying to perform with two upside down American flags in protest of the host, billionaire Steve Forbes.
“I think I’ve lost myself a little bit,” the singer said. “I’ve tried to find joy in the wrong places, and I don’t know—it’s left me with less joy.” Wallen added that SNL creator Lorne Michaels told him the show would find another time for him to appear in the future. By the end of the video, Wallen says that he plans on stepping back from the spotlight a bit to do some work on himself. Wallen was also arrested this past May for public intoxication outside of Kid Rock’s bar in Nashville, Tennessee.
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Comments on the video reflect the bizarre divide when it comes to the country’s stance on the pandemic. A top comment says, “Don’t apologize for getting to be a regular person for a night.” Another adds, “Only liberals would get mad that a young lady killer is out having fun. Don’t apologize.”
For Wallen, the lack of judgment ultimately means that he’ll miss out on adding a massive career accomplishment to his resumé, at least for the time being. For everyone else (including his fans), this is a reminder of how swiftly someone should be punished for not following social distancing protocols when the country is on the verge of yet another wave.
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