Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Dixie Chicks - Shut Up & Sing (2006) (DVD)

Shut Up & Sing is the feature length documentary about The Dixie Chicks that was released to theaters in the fall of 2006 and on DVD in January 2007.

The cover on the box of the DVD has the following pronouncement: "Freedom of speech is fine, as long as you don't do it in public." So for those of you who are squeamish of free speech when the perpetrators are liberals here is your warning: Do not open this DVD. If you do, and you don't like what you find inside, don't blame me.

In many ways Shut Up & Sing is like so many other documentaries on the lives of working musicians. The film alternates between shots of live in concert performances, clips of the band recording in the studio, in business meetings, backstage before and after their concerts, and at home with their families.

Not a single performance of a complete song is to be found anywhere, and to me that has always been a major flaw with most documentaries on musicians, but this film is not about the music. It's about the reaction from all sides to lead singer Natalie Maines' infamous quote made from a stage in England, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas."

After the comment, shown early in the movie, we witness the backlash, the protests, radio station programmers refusing to play the Chicks' music, and the ridiculous cries of "traitor" from many misquided former fans who don't understand what the First Amendment means. We witness Martie Maguire's fear of going onstage after receiving death threats and the defiance of Maines grow stronger as the noose tightens around the band.

You should not expect anything exceptional about the cinematography, film editing, sound, or music, in Shut Up & Sing. You should expect to ride an emotional roller coaster regardless of your political views because, despite its slant in favor of The Dixie Chicks, the film has enough guts to make both sides angry.


  1. "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."-- Voltaire

    I don't agree with the Dixie Chicks in general nor Natalie Maines specifically said. But she had every right to say it and I love that I live in a country where she does.

    That being said, many country music fans lean to the right politically-- the negative backlash over her remarks could/should not have caught the Dixie Chicks by surprise.

    The people who criticize Maines have just as much right to free speech as she does/did have in criticizing our president/country/foreign policy.

    Admittedly there are plenty on both sides who DO misunderstand the concept of free speech and only want to extend that right to those which agree with them. And many of the Dixie Chicks former fans DID take it too far by issuing death threats and threatening violence against the Dixie Chicks.

    I see it on both sides of the political spectrum, reactionary right wingers calling anyone and everyone who dares criticize Bush's foreign policy "traitors" and on the flipside anyone who calls into question the Global Warming theories presented by Al Gore and others who support the theory are instantly branded as being "in bed" with big corporations by loony far lefties.

    Why? Because resorting to name calling is much easier and much less uncomfortable than having your core beliefs challenged by those who support the opposite viewpoint.

  2. We're basically in agreement here. The people who criticize Maines have every right to do so but the main point in what I wrote is that too many people don't understand the First Amendment and what it means, and that is true of both sides.