Favorite

'Shut Up' stands up 

CHICKS FLICK: They didn't back down.
  • CHICKS FLICK: They didn't back down.

Ah, the bad old days. You remember those, right? Those years just after 9/11, when it became unpatriotic to criticize the president, his minions and their imperial ambitions — when the majority of America convinced itself that George W. Bush was Uncle Sam, Sgt. York and The Marlboro Man wrapped into one, instead of the D-grade nincompoop we were all sure he was on Sept. 10, 2001.

As seen in the riveting new documentary “Shut Up and Sing,” the pop/country singing trio The Dixie Chicks managed to stumble headlong into that red, white and blue quagmire of misplaced patriotism in 2003. That year, with their single flying high at the top of the country and pop charts and Bush quickly lying the country into war with Iraq, lead singer Natalie Maines told a London crowd that the Chicks were ashamed that George Bush was from their home state of Texas.

Within days, the right-wing press — aided and abetted by Bush-loving Republicans in control of conglomerated radio giants like Cumulus and Clear Channel — had managed to turn an off-the-cuff comment into a major affront to the country, one that the Chicks still struggle to overcome. Eventually, not only was their music pushed from the airwaves, they saw the situation whipped into a media-fueled frenzy, with attention-loving protestors haunting their concerts and radio stations hosting parties (at the bidding of their corporate masters, it was later revealed) at which listeners cheered while steamrollers crushed Dixie Chicks albums to dust. Split between 2003 and the recording and launch of their new “Taking the Long Way” album and tour in 2006, “Shut Up and Sing” records the brouhaha and the group’s efforts to press on with family and career while enduring everything from taunting signs to death threats.

While “Shut Up and Sing” turns out to be a stunningly good music documentary, detailing the against-all-odds creation of one of the most poignant and personal albums country music — and maybe music in general — has seen in years, its most important accomplishment might be to serve as a kind of time capsule to what will surely be known someday as one of the darkest hours for free speech — a time when Americans of all stripes saw their patriotism challenged because they dared to question a president and his war of personal profit and vengeance. The fact that The Dixie Chicks refused to knuckle under, even at the cost of own megawatt careers, is the mark of true patriotism, one that puts them in rare company alongside those who wouldn’t be silenced by the thumbscrews of political happenstance or pseudo-patriotic fervor. With “Shut Up and Sing,” we get to see it happen, from beginning to end, like a horrible accident that ends up making the victim stronger in the end. It’s enough to make the free-speech loving among us stand up and shout, even if it doesn’t turn out so rosy for the Chicks in terms of their careers.

“Shut Up and Sing” is one hell of a documentary about the commitment people make to their friends when the chips are down, the lengths a demagogue will go to make an example of his critics, and the danger of nationalism run amok. It’s a must see for any lover of the documentary form and for anyone who cares about free speech.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by David Koon

  • Gov. Hutchinson on last night's execution: went according to protocol, no need for an independent investigation

    At a press conference this morning at the State Capitol, Governor Asa Hutchinson said that there would be no need for an independent review of last night's execution of death row inmate Kenneth Williams or even a written report, calling such an investigation "totally unjustified" even though witnesses said that as the deadly drugs were administered, Williams convulsed for ten seconds and coughed and made other noises loud enough to be heard through the plate glass separating the execution chamber and the witness room.
    • Apr 28, 2017
  • Griffen asks probe of Ark. Supreme Court and AG's office conduct

    At a press conference today at the Doubletree Hotel just across from the Pulaski County Courthouse, Pulaski County Fifth Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen and his attorneys announced that he has asked the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission to investigate the conduct of the entire Arkansas Supreme Court, and asked the director of the Arkansas Committee on Professional Conduct to investigate the conduct of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and several others in the AG's office, related to what Griffen and his attorneys claim were forbidden ex parte conversations between the Supreme Court and the AG's office.
    • Apr 26, 2017
  • San Francisco judge blocks executive order defunding "sanctuary cities"

    A U.S. District Court Judge in San Francisco has issued a preliminary injunction that blocks major parts of a presidential executive order that would cut federal grants to cities that refuse to assist federal immigration officials in apprehending undocumented immigrants.
    • Apr 25, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Not much to 'Love'

    In Judd Apatow's new Netflix original series.
    • Feb 25, 2016

Most Shared

  • Workers stiffed

    How is it going with the great experiment to make the Republican Party the champion of the sons and daughters of toil instead of the oligarchs of wealth and business?
  • Former state board of education chair Sam Ledbetter weighs in on Little Rock millage vote

    Ledbetter, the former state Board of Education chair who cast the decisive vote in 2015 to take over the LRSD, writes that Education Commissioner Johnny Key "has shown time and again that he is out of touch with our community and the needs of the district." However, Ledbetter supports the May 9 vote as a positive for the district's students and staff.
  • O'Reilly's fall

    Whom the gods would destroy, they first make TV stars.

Latest in Movie Reviews

Visit Arkansas

Fishing the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Fishing the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Arkansas angler and fishing expert Billy Murray shares his extensive knowledge of the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Event Calendar

« »

April

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30  
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation