Shut Up & Sing

Shut Up & Sing

(2007)

Documentary follows texan band the Dixie Chicks, for three years after lead singer Natalie Maines says this at a 2003 London concert: "...and we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas". What follows is a massive backlash from their fans - country music folk, largely white American conservatives, who boycott their music and attack the musicians in the media.

Flicks Review

"We're ashamed that President of the United States is from Texas". That's the one line of banter, amusingly spoken by lead singer Natalie to a sold out Dixie Chicks crowd in London, that provoked a bizarre snowball effect of hate, boycotting and controversy.

The documentary follows the Chicks from the stage performance where the scandelous remark was made in 2003, their fall from the top, and the three years that follow, to when they finally reclaim their status as a number one selling band.

Reminicent of the Lennon "we're bigger than Jesus" thing, it all blows up beyond anyone's expectations. The country radio core takes the girls comment as anti-American, non-patriotic. To the films credit, it avoids entering the political side taking that occurs, rather depicting a publicity and media related problem solving game to try and turn the radio boycotts & CD burning around to focus on the musicians. This is a far more interesting angle.

The public shock appears to stem from the perception that the girls are country singers, women, white, married and from conservative states. Apparently that meant their listeners had them pegged. Following in the wake of 'Borat', the film depicts conservative Americans revealing themselves and their prejudices willingly. This is both ridiculous and amusing. Also amusing is the Chicks response to all this, revealed in candid momments as clever, funny and strong women.

The Chicks stick together and refuse to back down, playing the media game on their own terms. There next album openly addresses their experience as the most popular, hated band in America and the emotional struggle that entails.

Regardless of personal music tastes, the documentary has much to offer. Well worth a look.


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The Press Reviews

  • The movie is rich in interesting moments and the sisterly solidarity is touching, but it's insubstantial and incoherent. We emerge knowing that the Land of the Free doesn't much like dissent. But we already knew that... Full Review

  • For three years, the camera focuses on the Chicks as wives, mothers, entertainers and political flash points. Their fight to stay uncompromised is inspiring... Full Review

  • Documentary filmmakers pray for something to happen to their subjects when the cameras are rolling, and two-time Academy Award-winning documentarian Kopple struck gold when Maines told a crowd on the opening night of the band's first European tour that she was "ashamed" that President Bush was from Texas... Full Review

  • The movie offers a revealing case study of the relationship between politics, celebrity and the media in today’s polarized social climate... Full Review

  • It's the rare thorough documentary on a musical act whose dilemmas are faced in the here and now, one that should win over fans of the Chicks on the fence and of music docus and perhaps create a little cultural stir as well... Full Review

  • The movie's not quite the Bush bashfest its publicity might lead you to believe; it's closer to the Metallica doc "Some Kind of Monster" than to "Fahrenheit 9/11"... Full Review