Every year for my boyfriend’s birthday I make him a scrapbook of the past year. While working on the scrapbook at a card table in the living room last night I watched the film, Shut Up and Sing which follows the Dixie Chicks from 2003 or 2006. It was an amazing documentary and extremely powerful in that it just sneaks up on you.
I’d never been a huge Dixie Chicks fan and Natalie’s comment in 2003 on the eve of war that she was ashamed President Bush was from Texas didn’t impact me one way or other other as:
1) I like country western music but am by no means a die-hard
2) I am used to entertainers sharing their views, liberal or otherwise
3) And it’s a free country, we’re supposed to encourage free speech
I knew there had been a huge backlash against the Dixie Chicks, driven by two very right wing political groups. Country music stations boycotted the Dixie Chicks for years. Country music fans burned and smashed their entire Dixie Chicks collection. The band was picketed, shamed, attacked, humiliated. But what I didn’t know was that this went on for years.
Watching the documentary, realizing that three women were viciously and violently attacked for expressing an opinion unnerved me. As I watched the film footage I had the eerie feeling I was back in South Africa before apartheid ended. It seemed that the US had come tragicially close to becoming a police state, censoring both music choices and free expression.
Why can’t a woman express disappointment in a political figure? Why can’t a woman feel shame without being ridiculed on nearly every tv network, as well as having a death sentence put on her head?
Over and over country music djs said the Dixie Chicks should just shut up and sing.
Bullshit. Shut up?
The moment we shut up, the moment women are silenced, is the moment we don’t matter.
We matter. We have minds. And we must voice our opinions–even nonpopular opinions. Balance comes from having a right, a left and a middle.
If you have a night to watch a great story, rent Shut UP And Sing, its interesting as well as inspiring. And if you want to hear some amazing music, look for their last album. It’s powerful stuff and an answer to the world that stomped all over them for daring to think and feel and disagree.
For one of my favorite songs–ever–check out the video clip.