Chicks with Balls

I finally watched the Dixie Chicks documentary, "Shut Up and Sing," and all I have to say is: holy shit, does Natalie Maines have balls. It's really a pretty great movie, especially given how things have gone and are still going in Iraq. Remember back when it seemed like it would be a short little miniseries war? When the President's approval rating was through the roof, when the Mission was officially Accomplished, and Colin Powell was providing facts, not suspicions, that there were WMDs in Iraq? Wow, was that a long time ago. So long ago that this kind of thing could get you in a whole shitload of trouble: "we're ashamed that the President is from Texas."

That's all she said. And it was a tossed-off thing, the kind of thing you turn to your fiddle player and giggle at after you say it (I know, because I do this all the time -- giggle at my fiddle player, that is). And the next thing you know, people are burning CDs, running them over with monster trucks, boycotting radio stations, protesting at concerts, blabbing on Fox News, the whole thing. It's really unbelievable that the whole thing was started by this stupid joke, especially in hindsight, when even the people who were protesting the Dixie Chicks Dallas show (By the way, protesting a concert? Dude, you really need to make some changes) are probably feeling a whole lot different nowadays.

On one level, the movie is just a fascinating look back at that period of time, when something like that could snowball in such a scary way. It's nice to see all the typical assholes and realize how incredibly wrong they are, of course, but it's also interesting to see how sure everybody is about this whole Iraq thing. Scary.

Even if you don't like country music, it's a worthwhile movie. If you do like that kind of music (and the other thing about the Chicks is that they really are musicians, not Barbies getting yanked around by Timbaland or something), there's also a lot of interesting behind-the-scenes songwriting and recording, complete with Rick Rubin doing his buddha grizzly bear thing, sitting around in his jammies listening to tracks from the album.

Through the whole thing, you can see the Chicks trying to get their feet under them, worrying over how this will affect their lives and careers, and making little decisions that will have big consequences. And the Chicks have balls. There are countless times when one of them could have bailed out or given in. They're all mothers, with little babies walking around. That changes how you look at things like your own safety (especially, I could guess, if you've got a gajillion dollars in the bank from your first three albums). There are countless decisions they could have made differently, things that would have made perfect sense, and made more money, but didn't feel right. Also, countless times that one of the sisters, or both, could have just said, you know, I have two little kids at home, and you shot off your mouth, and now rednecks are fucking burning our CDs in the streets, running them over with their retard trucks. But if anything, the whole thing seems to have brought them all closer together.

Oh yeah, and on top of the commercial stuff, there were also death threats. Pretty serious ones. And when Natalie Maines is shown the picture of the guy who wrote "Natalie Maines will die in Dallas Texas on September 27, 2003," she says...."he's kind of good looking."

It's an interesting portrayal of what normal people do when they get thrown into the fire like that. Despite the fact that they're rich and secure, the Chicks really do seem pretty normal. The sisters seem more like soccer moms who somehow got into this predicament, who didn't ask for a fight but, almost by instinct more than anything else, decide to stick by their friend. Maines is no genius, but she's stubborn, and, like I said, she's got the balls to stick with her convictions. And it also helps that she is massively right about this one, as history has been proving for the past four years. Did I mention that she's got balls? When everybody around her is worrying over how to get back on country radio, she basically says, lets not be on country radio. When everybody wants her to take back what she said, she won't. When a nice, safe alternative to rolling the dice with their own money is brought up, -- a group that wants to basically underwrite the tour, paying a lump sum to the Chicks and taking the risk, but also the reward, on how the public will embrace them, post-comments -- she turns it down because it doesn't feel right. When Bush says that they shouldn't be upset if people are buying their album, she says, "oh he is such a fucking asshole," and then, just in case there was any question, she turns to the camera and says "you're a fucking asshole."

1 comment:

TMC said...

I was really expecting this post to be about the WNBA