Why would anyone want to piss off a group of women famous for a song about killing an abusive husband? In London, 2003, in the eve before the initial Iraq invasion, the Dixie Chicks (Martie Maguire, Natalie Maines, and Emily Robison) performed for a loud, appreciative audience. In between songs, Natalie spoke to the audience and uttered her now infamous statement: “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.” The audience responded with a loud applause of approval, Natalie grinned and offered a nonchalant shrug, and the next song began. From that inauspicious seed, a whole forest of rancor would grow and challenge the Dixie Chicks, their relationships with each other, and their relationship with their fan base and economic livelihood. That many of her fans took exception to “dissing” the president (especially on foreign soil), is a right that every fan has. And her fans further expressed their displeasure by boycotting concerts, burning CDs, and putting pressure on radio stations to remove Dixie Chicks songs from the play lists. The disapproval was not just limited to the fan base. It bled into the media itself (including radio stations). Even death threats ensued.
Fine. The Dixie Chicks plodded along and stuck to their guns. They have not backed down, and sisters Robison and Maguire have not wavered in their loyalty to Maines. They have lost revenue and CD sales, concerts have been cancelled, and the Dixie Chicks, while losing much of their country base, have cultivated new fans.
Last week I saw the movie Shut Up and Sing, playing only one place in San Diego, at the Ken Theatre, in culturally hip and inclusive Kensington. The documentary details the Chicks’ story of “the incident” (you get to actually see it in all its, well, informality). So, the real question is, do famous people have less civil rights than you or me? You can criticize the Chicks for saying what they said, but you cannot claim that they don’t have the right to express their opinion (even a negative opinion) of our government or our president. To say that they are disloyal to the troops, who are fighting for our freedom (it is questionable that the Iraq invasion has anything to do with my freedom), and then deny a citizen’s right to exercise her freedom doesn’t make sense.
Time to go buy “Taking the Long Way,” their latest CD, as well as figuring out who the hell Earl is (was).
Update: I bought the CD. I love it . . . Dixie Chicks garnered 5 Grammy Nominations! New fan base is a-comin'.
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