I really need to take a moment and talk about the Dixie Chicks. Yeah, I'll get to other aspects of this topic, but I really want to get to the issue that's first on everyone's mind when they think of the Dixie Chicks. What the devil were the photographer/stylist/makeup artists up to when they did the make up for the cover shoot for that new cd?
These are not inherently attractive women - let's be honest - and they need all the help they can get, especially now that they all seem like they need a cheeseburger and to be forced to attend a Daughters of the Confederacy meeting. The cover shoot is sort of a sepia toned image with very dark, smudged smoky eye makeup, which makes them look like disembodied bewigged skulls floating above couture-clad stick insects. Empty eyesockets in photos freak me out. It's very strange.
No doubt Natalie Maines' latest ravings are simply another bid to remain relevant in a notoriously fickle market. However, I'm sick of the fence-straddling, and I'm going to call it out when I see it. The published quote from the latest flap is as follows:
"The entire country may disagree with me, but I don't understand the necessity for patriotism," Maines resumes, through gritted teeth. "Why do you have to be a patriot? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country… I don't see why people care about patriotism."
OK, let's peel just a few layers of the irony onion here. Dixie is by definition the states of the Southern and Southeastern US that joined the Confederacy during the US Civil War. Shit. It's just a place, what's the big deal? Why are they not called the "Botswana Maidens," the "Lithuanian Lasses" or the Cantonese--?? I'll stop now. Uh, why are they called the Dixie Chicks? Because when it serves their purpose (like to sell concert tickets and cds) they are stepping up to cash in on the sense of place, pride and regionalism of the people who are considered to be the traditional backbone of the country-music fan base. However, if there's a political point to be made, they are willing to go on record as being above such petty bourgeois concepts such as patriotism and regionalism. Um, ok.
Furthermore, derisively invoking the words "this land is our land" most notably used in the form of the song of the same title by the universally esteemed American folk balladeer Woody Guthrie raised my eyebrows into full-throttle mode. Shit, unfortunate choice of words, I'd say. That song didn't say "golly, what a great country to be white in" or "join your local KKK" or "isn't it great we drove the Indians out so we could wallow in the decadent abundance of this land we intend to ride hard and put up wet." No, Woody Guthrie was dirt-poor and saying that although he had nothing but his guitar and the next train he would hitch a ride on, this land was every bit his as much as any Carnegie or Hearst or Rockefeller, and by golly, he was going to stand up and say so. Guthrie's music was about universality, not exclusivity, and I think for a group like TDC with their folksy roots to go off on such a poorly worded harangue is short-sighted and self-contradictory. Guthrie's song ended "this land was made for you and me," the you in that equation being the collective of everyone who comes here. Even if she didn't intend to quote WG, any former folkie should know better than this horrid faux pas.
And to go back to the old 2003 saw from TDC concert in London in which they whined about our president - some of the most acutely intelligent people I know are from the UK, and they don't assume that we all voted for Bush any more than we can assume they all voted for Thatcher. I know that some in that audience appreciated their comments at that moment, but that statement was tantamount to saying "we know y'all are probably just too thick to know that we didn't all vote for the same guy, so, uh, we want you to know we didn't."
In any case, it makes them seem more nakedly cloying to trade on an image they give lip service to decrying. By all means, trash this country and everything it stands for, protest deposing Saddam Hussein - suck his dick if you like - but before you go shooting your mouth off half-cocked, please invest in a higher-memory irony chip, bitches!
telegraph article on Dixie Chicks