Archive | 4:31 pm

Not Ready to Make Nice

18 Nov

When Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks told the crowd at a 2003 concert in London that she was ashamed President Bush was from Texas, little did she know the firestorm she would create and the effect that off-hand remark would have on the group’s career. The consequences are documented in Shut Up and Sing, a film that allows viewers to see how the Chicks didn’t whither under the criticism, and how instead, all the negativity directed toward them made the group stronger.

Shut Up & Sing doesn’t appear to have any purpose or agenda other than to show how the Chicks’ concerts, radio play, and next album were affected by Maines’ joke. Sure, that in itself gives the film a point-of-view, and Maines’ unapologetic nature is refreshing to see, given that most of what is fed to the public by actors, singers, etc. is usually meant to be politically correct and audience-pleasing. When country radio turns its back on the Chicks, Maines basically says, “screw ’em.” And when George Bush mocks the Chicks in an interview by saying they shouldn’t have their feelings hurt, she calls him a “dumb fuck.” But without the hindsight commentary present in many other documentaries, which would provide insight into what was happening, this allows the viewer to just go along for the ride and be a fly on the wall during the fallout.

It’s clear that the Chicks didn’t buckle under the pressure, and with songs on their latest CD including “Not Ready to Make Nice,” we know they’re not backing down from what Maines said. And the film makes clear that while she is the vocal center of the trio, garnering most of the attention, the group’s other two members (Martie Maguire and Emily Robison) stand by her 100 percent. The Dixie Chicks are a partnership, a sisterhood, and a group to be respected for the way they handled themselves under the circumstances.

It’s safe to say Shut Up & Sing won’t be liked by those who don’t already like the group, or by those who support George Bush, but it’s an enjoyable look behind-the-scenes at just one group that was caught in the crosshairs of the political cultural wars of the last four years. I give it a B+.