Shut Up & Sing
Time Out rating:
Not yet rated
Time Out says
Thu Oct 19 2006In March 2003, as troops marshalled at the Iraqi border, Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines declared, on-stage at the Shepherds Bush Empire, ‘we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas’. And with that off-hand crowd-pleaser, the best-selling female band in US chart history entered a world of pain: blacklisted by country-music radio stations, branded traitors, even targeted with death threats, the Chicks became a lightning rod for the dark side of the jingoistic flag fever sweeping middle America at the time.
Bouncing back and forth between the immediate aftermath and the recording and release of the still-vilified Chicks’ follow-up album a couple of years later, Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck’s documentary benefits from intimate access to Haines, her bandmates Martie Maguire and Emily Robison and their British manager Simon Renshaw, who chirpily miscalculates the initial outcry – ‘wouldn’t it be great if we can get them burning CDs and banning you from radio?’ Well, no, Simon, it turns out it wouldn’t – but generally comes across as a sound head.
Indeed, everyone in the film is treated with complete sympathy – perhaps even indulged. Not that the group deserved the hate-thought directed against them, but to a general audience they are of symptomatic rather than local interest: issues of music-industry politics, brand management and, of course, freedom of speech are touched on here, but remain secondary to the specifics of the band members’ lives and careers. Political and commercial censorship are of interest to all. Archive material of early Dixie Chicks shows and details of their struggles with fertility treatment are strictly for the fans.
Author: Ben Walters