I have to applaud the Dixie Chicks. While I’m ambivalent about their music, I admire the courage they have shown in recent public statements about the United States’ mad rush towards war in Iraq. While I realize that it’s common for many celebrities to polish their images by giving lip service to some noble cause, I have to believe the Chicks are sincere on this issue. If not, they’re idiots.
Certainly they couldn’t have expected to win the adoration of their fans by speaking out. Much as I hate to stereotype, I’m afraid that the majority of my fellow country music lovers, who are the core of the Chicks’ audience, don’t share my political leanings. They’re more likely to lap up the vitriol spewed by folks like Charlie Daniels (whose music I prefer over that of the Chicks). I’ve started to become somewhat nauseated at artists like him capitalizing on the flag-waving chest-thumping macho madness of their intellectually-challenged fans. Certainly the Chicks must have seen enough of this to realize that a statement lamenting the real horrors of war would not be well-received by fans who live in the John Wayne world of swaggering heroes who bravely take on the villains and win handily, with no harm to any innocent bystanders. I have to believe that the Chicks knew what they would be getting into.
I do find it sadly amusing that one of Charlie Daniel’s diatribes against anti-war activism says: “You people need to get out of Hollywood once in a while and get out into the real world. You’d be surprised at the hostility you would find out here.” The Chicks did get out into the real world, beyond the borders of the United States (which is probably beyond the borders of Charlie’s bigotry-blinded vision), and saw the hostility. Unlike their Neanderthal colleague, they were also perceptive enough to realize that a major cause of that hostility was the arrogant bullying ignorance of Americans like himself, and gutsy enough to take a stand.
For a brief moment, I even entertained a faint glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, the Chicks’ words might awaken a few lonely brain cells among some of their fans who never read a newspaper. I was even pollyannish enough to think they might record a hit song extolling the virtues of peace. But I realized I should have known better when I read reports like this one about the backlash. It’s fine for entertainers to have political viewpoints, as long as they’re the right ones (and the farther right, the better). In today’s corporate entertainment conglomerate, opinions disagreeing with the establishment are taboo. And stories such as this one make it clear that, unlike the good old days of hearing singers like Joan Baez and Arlo Guthrie on the radio, no artist who recorded an anti-war song today could expect to get any air time.
Hang in there, Chicks! I’ve read Natalie’s response to the rabid backlash, and I’m glad to see that she didn’t back down from her position that war is a tragedy to be avoided if at all possible, and that the rest of the world doesn’t think we’ve done enough to avoid it.