SHUT UP AND SING
Ungrateful Music Stars
Release Date: October 27, 2006
Starring: The Dixie Chicks: Natalie
Mains, Emily Robison, and
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 93 minutes
Distributor: The Weinstein Co.
Director: Barbara Kopple and Cecilia
Executive Producer: ul Music Stars **
Producer: David Cassidy and Barbara
Address Comments To:Bob and Harvey Weinstein
The Weinstein Company
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Phone: (646) 862-3400
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Two-time Academy Award winner, (1976 Harlan Co. USA and 1991 American Dream), Barbara Kopple along with Cecilia Peck merge a music video, a political documentary and the story of the Dixie Chicks as they react and live through the aftermath of Natalie's remark.
After being the number one women's band in musical history, their records plummeted from the top of the Country Music charts to banned on the radio. Many DJs refuse to play their songs, but it doesn't stop there. In one nationally televised event, Dixie Chick CDs are crushed by a bulldozer as crowds cheered.
So they fought back. After an attempted apology failed, ("I was disrespectful. . . we are patriots,") they bared their defiance. Feeling "branded," they appear nude on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, with "BIG MOUTH" stamped on Natalie's chest and "TRAITOR" across Martie Maguire's back and more were stamped in big black letters on their bare skin.
The cover shot graphically exposes not just a "why us" attitude (the other two members of the band, Emily Robison and Martie Maguire, supported and strategized throughout the documentary) but a stubborn, united and aggressive unwillingness to back down or apologize. It's as if making a mistake, or in this case a rude statement, is a line in the sand and justifies the actions of the so called victim. However, it got them attention and fueled the fire.
"We don't want people to think that we're trying to be provocative. It's not about the nakedness. It's that the clothes get in the way of the labels" (Natalie Mains, EW Apr. 25, 2003).
The Dixie Chicks got in the way of their own industry. Not only did DJs stop playing their music, but they also started a rift with Toby Keith when they made disparaging remarks about his rousing patriotic song, "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue." Natalie exacerbated the feud by creating an obscene T-shirt which provoked the creation of another obscene T-shirt attacking the Dixie Chicks, adding fuel to the fire of controversy.
The Dixie Chick world changed dramatically. Telling scenes with their Lipton Tea representatives as they lose their sponsorship and news clip of the John McCain chaired senate committee where Simon Renshaw (the Dixie Chicks manager) argues that the corporate owners of the radio stations forced the DJs to stop playing the Dixie Chicks. CD sales were going nowhere.
Even so, the Dixie Chicks stuck together, and here is where the film sings. The relationships between the three band were strengthened by their respect and love of their music. The up close look of Natalie, Martie and Emily as they work in rehearsal, play with their children and create strong relationships with their husbands is the foundation for the cohesiveness and united front of the three. The movie also shows the birth of Emily's twins complete with "girl talk" over magazines during her labor.
All this should be heartwarming, but it isn't, and the result is an overwhelming sadness. In SHUT UP AND SING, the spiritual act of forgiveness is misunderstood and misconstrued. Sure they asked forgiveness for their remark, but when it wasn't accepted, they dug in their heels. The documentary ends where it begins in the same concert hall in London 2006 with the same words from Natalie, "Just so you know, we are embarrassed the President is from Texas."
SHUT UP AND SING is a politically correct attempt to rehabilitate the image of the Dixie Chicks. It defends the right of the Dixie Chicks to say what they want, but it doesn't defend the right of people to criticize the Dixie Chicks or boycott their music. Since the controversy, the Dixie Chicks have abandoned and attacked the country music base that made them stars in the first place. Such ingratitude may appeal to liberals, especially liberals who hate the fact that their power has waned in recent years.
Of course, forgiveness also means letting go. "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Eph. 4:31-32)
SHUT UP AND SING is a politically correct attempt to rehabilitate the Dixie Chicks. It defends the right of the Dixie Chicks to say what they want, but it doesn't defend the right of people to criticize the Dixie Chicks or boycott their music. Since the controversy, the Dixie Chicks have abandoned and attacked the country music base that made them stars in the first place. The documentary also includes some foul language and three sexual references.