Morgan Wallen's Album of the Year ACM win polarizes Twitter: 'Racist country fans can rejoice!'

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In February 2021, less than a month after country star Morgan Wallen released his sophomore effort Dangerous: The Double Album, he was caught on camera using a racial slur; the fallout was immediate, with country radio stations banning his music and his label suspending him. The backlash hardly affected Wallen’s commercial success — many fans rallied in fact around him, causing Dangerous’s sales to spike by more than 1,000 percent and eventually reach double-platinum — but the album was passed over for nomination by most awards shows, including this year’s Grammy Awards.

However, at Monday’s 2022 Academy of Country Music Awards, Wallen earned nods for Male Artist of the Year, Song of the Year, and Album of the Year — and Dangerous actually won in the latter category. This was Wallen’s first major award since the N-word controversy, and while he did not mention that controversy in his acceptance speech (other than vaguely thanking his supportive fanbase and “everyone who has shown me grace along the way”), country fans on social media mostly definitely addressed it.

ACM viewers on Twitter were divided. Some argued that Wallen deserved the Album of the Year honor and gleefully declared his victory a blow against “cancel culture”:

Other fans were furious that a “racist” had been forgiven so quickly, since Wallen had actually been declared ineligible at last year’s ACM Awards due to the scandal:

Additionally, many tweeters noticed that country star Maren Morris — an ally who dedicated her 2020 Female Artist of the Year Award at another major ceremony, the Country Music Association Awards, to Black women in country music — did not applaud when Wallen won Album of the Year. However, public opinion was mixed on that issue as well.

While Wallen obviously remains a polarizing figure in country music, his 2021 scandal did put a spotlight on the need for more diversity and inclusion within the country genre. Such representation was thankfully a big part of Monday’s ACMs Awards ceremony, with several Black country artists, including cohost Jimmie Allen, Breland, Brittney Spencer, Kane Brown, and Mickey Guyton, making appearances.

The 57th annual Academy of Country Music Awards ceremony, which was hosted by Dolly Parton, took place Monday evening at Las Vegas’s Allegiant Stadium and streamed live on Amazon Prime. Below is the full list of 2022 winners:

Entertainer of the Year: Miranda Lambert

Female Artist of the Year: Carly Pearce

Male Artist of the Year: Chris Stapleton

Album of the Year: Morgan Wallen, Dangerous: The Double Album

Single of the Year: Jason Aldean & Carrie Underwood, “If I Didn't Love You”

Song of the Year: Lainey Wilson, “Things a Man Oughta Know”

New Female Artist of the Year: Lainey Wilson

New Male Artist of the Year: Parker McCollum

Duo of the Year: Brothers Osborne

Group of the Year: Old Dominion

Video of the Year: Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don't Wanna Go Home)”

Songwriter of the Year: Michael Hardy

Music Event of the Year: Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted to Be That Girl”

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