Monday, January 07, 2008

Dixie Chicks

Late last night I watched "Shut Up and Sing," the 2006 documentary about the Dixie Chicks' dust-up over a comment Natalie Maines made about George Bush. It was a very well made film that not only reinforced my concern about their plight but also made me interested in them as musicians and as people -- something I never imagined would happen.

Maines comes across as just incorrigibly outspoken on nearly every topic, sometimes laughing at her own absurdities even as they are escaping her lips. Her fellow chicks come across as nearly saintly: committed artists devoted to family, music and each other.

Not everybody in the film comes off so well. Radio executives act like scared clowns; anti-Chicks protesters as dumb hayseeds. It's particularly dispiriting to see so many country fans behave so badly. After all, country music was built on the work of people who didn't fit in. Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, George Jones and Merle Haggard are hardly models of clean living and moral solemnity.

Coming off worst was a Republican congressman who said the Chicks were merely experiencing the business consequences of expressing their opinions in public. If there is any bedrock principle of democracy, it is that political opinions ought to be kept separate from business consequences. Democracy works only if you and I agree that we can fight bitterly over who should be elected president of the country or the school board, then cast our votes and go back to living and working together, you getting your hair cut in my shop and me getting my car repaired in your garage.

Break that principle, and the entire democratic contract is in peril.


Q said...

Exactly! :)

Anonymous said...

I, too, agree that the Chicks's movie was WONDERFUL! They are some of the bravest performers our country has ever produced.

But I gotta tell ya the REST of the story. I knew when the Chicks movie was coming out, so I waited patiently. After some time, I could not FIND a copy in any of our video stores here in Great Falls. So I started calling. I called Hastings first. They said that there were NO COPIES FOR RENT, but that I could BUY a copy! (which I finally did). I called other video stores, and no one seemed to carry it. One told me that they would not carry that video so as "not to offend the military personnel" stationed here in GF! I WAS FRIGGIN' OUTRAGED! This runs deeper than you've already mentioned, Dave. When I can't even friggin' RENT a copy of a movie because the stores are afraid of repercussions, sumthin' is REAL wrong in scardy cat Amerika! Hell, are Bush and his Dick, cheney, really that scary? I don't think so! We truly have become a nation of cowards. We need MORE people like the Chicks who aren't afraid of a little AWOL drydrunk and his sidekick! Natalie Maines said it best when she looked straight into the camera and reacted after Bush said something extremely stupid. She spoke for ALL America when she said, "What a dumb f*ck!" (my absolute favorite part of the movie) America still lives in the Chicks!

Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers!

David said...

The movie actually did play in Billings for a week last year. If memory serves, it was at the Cine 7.

My favorite part was when Natalie Maines said something like, "Since we've already fucked ourselves, we have an obligation to go ahead and continue fucking ourselves."

What made it great was that she realized about the time she said "obligation" how ridiculous it was all going to sound, and she started laughing. Then she went ahead and said it anyhow, laughing all the way.

People like that should not be silenced.

Rocky Smith said...

I'm all for Ms. Maines being free to speak her mind. To expect no repercussions from conservative leaning country music fans is short sighted though. We are all free to speak our minds, but nobody has to agree, or even listen.