Tonight is just my thoughts.
This evening I joined a couple friends from work to see a documentary that was pre-released to Nashville. It's called "Shut Up and Sing", a documentary put out by the Dixie Chicks. Before you read any further, let me forewarn you, you may not agree with what I have to say.
Call me crazy, but for some reason, I guess I was expecting to see mostly loyal fans. Instead, it appeared I was walking into a theatre full of democrats and liberals with a political agenda. Sure, the audience didn't say anything themselves, instead they only sneered, laughed and cheered at anything portrayed negative toward the President. I can't help but feel sorry for the Dixie Chicks. I have always loved their music, and I think they are extremely gifted artists and musicians. But I'm also not surprised by the damage of Natalies comment back in 2001 where she said she was embarressed the President was from Texas. Does that mean that people were right to burn their music or ban them from radio stations? Not necessarily. Am I only friends with people that believe the way I do? Does every band I enjoy have the exact same belief system as me? No. And am I surprised?
But when it really comes down to this matter of the Dixie Chicks, its not about who was right or wrong. It's not about the Dixie Chicks apologizing to President Bush or taking back what they said or even the freedom of speech. Even President Bush himself was quoted in the documentary as saying, "Freedom is a two way street." And it is. But I think this is more about the fans and the bands relationship to them. The band decided to stand firm to a comment that Natalie, their lead singer, made about the President while in London, but what they didn't think about, was how that might affect their fans. It's not President Bush buying their albums, its not the radio stations putting money in their pocket - its the loyal fans that went out and bought their cds, paid for concert tickets, wore their t-shirts and watched their videos. I personally would have liked to see them make a come back. I truly believe that will only come by them making amends with the very ones who made them so successful...their fans. Maybe if this documentary was more geared in that direction, it would have a postive impact on their career and their future in music, instead I believe its drawing a political crowd, that only sees it as an opportunity to further their own agenda. It was sad. I'm afraid this will only seal their fate.
I think the Dixie Chicks intent is to release this film to express their feelings on how they were treated and where they stand with the public's reaction toward Natalies comment back in 2001, and win back the respect of their fans. Unfortunately, I don't believe that the audience this film will draw, is really all that interested. I strongly believe that the majority of those I watched the film with, could have cared less what the Dixie Chicks have been through or have any interest in their music at all. I would have loved to have seen a show of hands of who there owned any of their albums. I went tonight to here their story, not because I was a republican or a democrat, but because I am a fan. I wanted to give them a chance to make it right...with me as the fan. Not the president, not the radio stations, not anyone else. And I was a bit disappointed. I'm not going to burn my cds or boycott their songs, and I still enjoy the albums I have of theirs. But more than that, I believe the most important thing they could want from myself as a fan is my respect and out of that respect, my support. They let us down, not because they spoke their rights, but because they were ashamed and they told another country so. Together we stand, divided we fall. I believe the greatest division and defeat our country will face is from within.
I had hoped after watching this film, my faith in them would have been renewed and I would be inspired to buy their latest album. But instead, I left feeling defensive and jaded. I left with the impression that they were not after their fans respect - they are more after feeling justified. When you place yourself in a position to rely on the public as your means of success and wealth, then you have to realize that along with that, you place yourself in a position to be critized and judged for how you conduct yourself and what you say. Your fans become a means for your financial security and success, I guess you could say that would make them your boss. I could see how this could freak a celebrity out, there is an illusion that you don't have to answer to anyone - but like a boss, if you don't perform to the degree you're paid to, you'll ultimately lose your job. Are they victims of being treated like puppets on a string or do we only expect from them what is expected from us on a daily basis? Everyday, we abide by standards given our environment - dresscodes for work, professional conduct, customer service...a certain kind of conduct and performance is expected from us just as we expect from others in their own given environment. Like I mentioned before, the film made me feel sad. I don't believe they will accomplish what they've set out to do. And I don't believe they will ever be as great of a band as they once were without that relationship with their fans.