opponents wrap their American patriotism in hatred and destruction and are down right amnesic when it comes to freedom of speech and the Declaration of Independence.
Shut Up and Sing is the reverberation of Maines' statement against a backdrop of undeveloped American feelings about the war and President Bush. In 2003, oil prices had not yet launched into the stratosphere and thousands of sons and brothers had not yet died in Iraq.
The movie chronicles how the reaction to Maines' words affected the Chicks, financially and personally. But it's an emotional pull that brings Shut Up and Sing eye to eye with a nation at odds with the precepts upon which it was built. For Natalie Maines, her freedom of speech was punished at every level. And it is in the telling of her story that we grow to appreciate the importance of true friendship, free speech and ultimately, Maines, who for all intents and purposes never waivers. Even more interesting is how her words predicted today's growing dissatisfaction with our government.
As the film comes full circle after three years of upheaval, we watch Maines take the same UK stage. She's been unsafe, unwanted and felt enormous guilt for the mayhem her statement brought on the people she loves. She steps up to the microphone and we wonder with her … was it really worth it? Wouldn't it be easier to be quiet and collect stadium size paychecks instead of the scratch that comes with the small venues they now inhabit?
Suddenly alone in a concert venue full of people we see Maines, the singer, the friend, the mother, the wife. It's only when she struts the exact same phrase back into the rafters we can't help but feel a collective hee-haw! Because in a universe of uncertainty, this is one Chick that won't back down.
And that, my friend, is a very good thing.
On the Brighton Scale of 1-4.
1-Requiring a comp ticket AND cab fare, 4- An Instant Brighton Classic. This is a good ol' 3.
*Not to be used or reproduced in any way without expressed permission of author. Copy registered with the Writers Guild.
Shut Up and Sing
Reviewed by Elizabeth Brighton*
When the Dixie Chicks Natalie Maines joked about George Bush during a 2003 concert in the UK, it became the quip heard round the world.
What no one could have anticipated was the media firestorm that would ignite around Maines and her band mates Martie Maguire and Emily Robinson. How could the statement "we're ashamed he's from Texas" receive such an incredible backlash from America's heartland?
It's that "friendly fire" that fuels Shut Up and Sing.
The movie opens with the concert footage of Maines, all girly blond and opinionated with the winning style and personality that helped launched the Chicks into the 8th best selling female group of all time. The footage unbelievably shows the quip more like a naughty school girl comment than a political manifesto. Her political tap is more akin to being gummed to death by a kitten. But for the next hour and a half the documentary reveals instances of death threats against the Chicks, air play boycotts and public trashing of CDs. Apparently Dixie Chick
Directed by Bruce Leddy Rated R
ELIZABETH BRIGHTON Elizabeth Brighton is a Journalism graduate of Pepperdine University, Malibu and has been published in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe. She lives in New York where she is a media and communications consultant, loves the spoken word, pictures, travel, the arts …and anything contrary.