End of the Year, Semi-Political Quasi-Rant
Who Bought that Soap Box, Anyway?
This particular sore spot deals with the Dixie Chicks. Now, if somehow you have not heard of the Dixie Chicks, feel free to google them, but here's the story. Three women formed what turned into one of Country Music's powerhouse acts. At least for a while. About two years ago, tDC decided to go public with their feelings about President Bush.
Let me pause here for a moment. I believe that everyone has a right in this country to speak freely about the government and the people who make up the government. Free speech is a cornerstone of our republic. Therefore, I will defend the right of any individual to say what they want about our leaders. But just because I have the right to do something, doesn't always mean it is the right thing to do.
There are a couple of things with this particular situation that just are not right in my book. First, tDC chose to make these statements in jolly old England, not here. All the family may know that Uncle Harry's a screwball, and we may discuss it between ourselves, but we don't discuss it with strangers. My impression of what tDC were doing with this statement was less about politics and more about opportunism. They sensed that they could win support there by bashing a US President that was not popular there. But even if that were not the case, save your criticisms for the people who actually get to make the decisions (U.S. citizens). Its just the right thing to do.
Second, and worse, is the celebrity aspect. See, tDC have a platform to speak not because they articulated a political viewpoint and were supported for that viewpoint. They are popular because a group of people, with diverse backgrounds and political persuasions, like(d) their music. But then tDC (and many other celebrities today) used that popularity to make political statements.
Ever Heard of "New Coke"
Of course, a fair amount of the Country Music audience tends to be more conservative and therefore took offense to tDC's statements. From a marketing standpoint, this was like "New Coke". Your core customers aren't going to like it, and your "new" fans prefer something else anyway. The backlash against tDC was quick and massive.
Think for just a second. The question is, if I'm just an average fan who listens to tDC on the radio and buys their CDs, how do I make myself heard? How do I let the world know that tDC does not speak for me, even if I did help buy the soap box? It's called a boycott.
Fans boycotted shows, smashed CDs, and demanded that radio stations stop playing tDC. Fans did the only things fans could do to show that they did not endorse the political statement tDC were making. The seemingly inevitable cry of "censorship" started to be heard.
It is not censorship. If President Bush had outlawed the playing of tDC music, that would be censorship. When fans call for a boycott of buying tDC music, or boycotting radio stations that play tDC music, it is not censorship. What is interesting, of course, is that no one ever calls the anti-fur lobby picketing a Ted Nugent concert censorship. But that's what many called picketing of tDC shows. But I digress. (Let me go on the record here as saying threats of physical harm or death - which tDC apparently received - were totally and completely out of line. Again, I think their statements lacked wisdom and prudence, but we all have the right to make complete idiots of ourselves if that's what we want - I do it all the time.)
After taking a break for a year or so, tDC released a new album this year. The first single and video was "Not Ready to Make Nice" which, you can probably guess without ever having listened to it, spoke to their unwillingness to "back down" (their words). But with whom were they "not ready to make nice?" It seems clear this could only be addressed to their former fans who had parties smashing their CD's and calling for boycotts of radio stations that played their music. The single was wildly hailed by the MSM, and they have been nominated for several Grammy's.
Which brings me a long way around to what caused this post. I saw the video shortly after it was released and after that allowed tDC to drop off the radar. Given the changing sentiments in this country about President Bush and the war in Iraq, I figured tDC were again riding a wave of opportunity. The MSM, at least, seemed sure that CD and tour would be a success.
Apparently not. The show I saw mentioned that many concert dates in the south had to be canceled for lack of ticket sales. One of tDC stated (and this is what really got me) that they just wanted everyone to forget the past and let them play music.
Hello? Is there anybody in there? You're not ready to make nice, remember? The irony here is if they had come out with something like "Wide Open Spaces" or "Goodbye Earl" many (though not all, I know) Country fans probably would have warmly received them. But they choose a confrontational approach and apparently were surprised when the fan base reacted negatively. You cannot have it both ways. It was tDC, not the fans, who first made the past and issue for this tour.
A wise man once wrote: "A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger." (Proverbs 15:1 NASB'95) How many times in my own life have I had the harsh word, then wondered why I got an angry response? I'm not really all that different than tDC. I'm sure that there are blind spots in my own life that cause me to overlook what is obvious to others. Be friend - if you see such a thing in 2007 (or in reflecting on 2006), let me know. Just be sure to be gentle.