Not Ready to Make Nice

“Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.” And with those words three years ago, Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks ignited a political and cultural firestorm. At the time the U.S. was on the brink of war in Iraq and George W. Bush was riding high in the polls, backed by a wave of patriotism. The media was cowed and critics who questioned the war rationale were shouted down with accusations of anti-Americanism.

Into this climate the Dixie Chicks were seen badmouthing the commander-in-chief to a foreign audience (they were in London). At home they faced a boycott of their music, country stations stopped playing them, people protested outside their shows and the band received death threats. Luckily, if I can use that word, a documentary crew was following the band during the whole ordeal.

We picked Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing for our Toronto Film Fest mostly because Gill is a huge fan. Who am I to judge? I made her go and see zombies. Turns out it was a fascinating piece about the backlash they faced for daring to disagree with Bush. I understand the people have the right to choose what they want to listen to, but what happened to the Chicks went far beyond. The virulence directed at them was stunning.

That’s what bothers me the most. If you disagree with someone, that’s fine, but to insist that people aren’t allowed to have a differing opinion, to label them traitors, to call for them to be killed is insanity. I see that happening here in Canada too, as NDP leader Jack Layton is attacked for calling for a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, not debated about whether or not it is a wise decision.

But enough of that rant. The film follows the chicks as the face the protests and decide to carry on anyway. Says Haines, “Now that we've fucked ourselves, I think we have a responsibility to continue to fuck ourselves.” Three years later they are back and while maybe not on top of the world they are unbowed.


  1. I'm not a big fan of the Dixie Chicks. And I'm still puzzled by Maines saying the President of the United States is from Texas (he was born and educated in Connecticut...). That having been said, I was rather shocked at the backlash against the Dixie Chicks for those words. It seems to me that it was not what Maines said about the President that was "anti-American," but rather the attacks upon the Dixie Chicks for those words. After all, I was under the impression that in the United States we had this thing called freedom of speech. I was also under the impression that our republic was built upon the tolerance of differing opinions. Given the reaction the Dixie Chicks got, I guess there are a lot of people who disagree with me as to what the United States should stand for...

  2. I think Bush likes to think(and tries to give the impression) he is from Texas, and as mercurie pointed out, he is from Connecticut.

    The whole thing with the Dixie Chicks was rather disappointing. I mean that the reaction to what they had to say was the disappointing part. Considering that they took a stand on something that wasn't all that illogical, damn, why did they have to get so trashed?

  3. I'm not a fan of the girls' music but when this came out and the public beating began, I couldn't help but feel sorry for them. Getting that treatment for speaking out? I'll keep an eye out for this in the near future, it's one I'll definately want to see.