Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Movie Maven: Shut Up and Sing

In the time leading up to the Iraq war, people around the world were against the United States invading Iraq. While an overwhelming amount of Americans supported the war, there were Americans who were against the war. The opponents of War warned the United States that they were making a grave error in this pre-emptive invasion. Much of the warnings that were ignored came to pass.

I remember when Natalie Maines of The Dixie Chicks told her British audience that she was supportive to the opposition of the war and that she was embarrassed that Bush was from her home state of Texas. I thought that it was a brave stand and that she gave voice to the Texans I knew who always thought that the Bush family were mere carpetbaggers who did little for their state.

This movie documents the consequences they faced and still face because those 12 little words of dissent. Country fans abandoned them for speaking out in a foreign country and being the All-American country-girl face of anti-war sentiment. This movie illustrates how the consolidation of radio stations under huge right wing corporate leaders intensified the consequences the Dixie Chicks faced. They could no longer count that their music would be played on any country station.

The Dixie Chicks are enormously talented women who are mothers of small children. They have to tour, record their next album, spend time with their small children often while they are pregnant. They contend with all that and have to deal with death threats, pickets, commentators calling them traitors, stupid, and all kinds of harsh words, and boycotts.

I don't question the right to boycott performers or anyone in the media. I stand by the right of people who boycott Dr. Laura, so I must stand by those who boycotted The Dixie Chicks. I just think that they had to put up with far more crap for just 12 words. Part of that is that the right wing had control of enough radio outlet to fuel the rage against them that couldn't have happened 10-20 years ago.

I think that while they did pay the price by losing the country audience, I think the experience made their music better. I think their last album is brilliant and about very important things that they have went through. My favorite song of theirs is "Not Ready to Make Nice" echoes a lot of anger I have built up over the Bush administration and their followers. It really sums up nicely what people went through speaking out against the Bush war machine. Now that the anti-war crowd is vindicated (an unsatisfyingly sad vindication) and people are now seeing that we were right, we are still angry what we were put through and people who questioned out patriotism have not earned the right to our good will.

The Dixie Chicks were one of the countless casualties of this Bush administration's march to war and general incompetance, but also to the worrying trend of media consolidation. See the film and decide for yourself.

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