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And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats - Matthew 25:32

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May 27, 2006


Dixie Chicks as Andy Kaufman
Apparently, the Dixie Chicks think they're Andy Kaufman. That's the only sense I can make out of their album release press, particularly their big Time magazine interview.

Andy Kaufman was an arrogant little prick who made a big point of looking down on all those dumb little people who made him a tv sitcom star. He was a performance artist, not a stand up comedian or anything like that. He spent his last years largely in his wrestling villain personae, the better to mock his audience- while still craving their attention. He put a lot of effort into coming up with stuff designed to make the little people hate him. In his defense, he was pretty clever, and managed to concoct some pretty good entertainment out of this foolishness.

The Dixie Chicks, however, are not nearly so clever or talented. I'd rather hear Kaufman lip syncing the Mighty Mouse theme than to listen to the Dixie Chicks. Silly politics aside, they're not very good.

But they seem to be bound and determined to make every sentient being in the country hate them. Now, I may be judged to be an easy mark for this, as already I hate the Dixie Chicks beyond all measure - and all the sexy Dixie Chicks pictures in the world won't change that. Me and Natalie got issues. Still, they seem bound and determined to make not just wingnuts like me dislike them, but everyone in the entire frickin' world, regardless of their politics.

Start with the lead single from this, their first album since The Incident. To say that "Not Ready to Make Nice" is undiplomatic hardly begins to describe it. It's a straight middle finger to their original country audience. Their defense here would be that they feel they have been treated unfairly. They have a grievance to address, even if it cheeses people off more. Fair enough.

But that doesn't explain any of these other asinine things they're saying now. It looks for all the world as if they are calculating their remarks to be as off putting as possible.

Here's an AP summary of the big Time article:
The Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines apologized for disrespecting President Bush during a London concert in 2003. But now, she's taking it back.

"I don't feel that way anymore," she told Time magazine for its issue hitting newsstands Monday. "I don't feel he is owed any respect whatsoever."

As war in Iraq loomed, Maines told the London audience: "Just so you know, we're ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas."

The remarks led to death threats and a backlash from other country stars, including a high-profile spat with Toby Keith. It also stalled what until then had been the group's smashingly successful career.

Bandmate Emily Robinson said she knew right away the remark wouldn't be taken lightly and got "hot from my head to my toes."

"It wasn't that I didn't agree with her 100 percent; it was just, 'Oh, this is going to stir something up,'" she told Time.

For band member Martie Maguire, the controversy was a blessing in disguise.

"I'd rather have a small following of really cool people who get it, who will grow with us as we grow and are fans for life, than people that have us in their five-disc changer with Reba McEntire and Toby Keith," Maguire said. "We don't want those kinds of fans. They limit what you can do."

Miss Martie thinks that she's quite the smartie, but this smells more like a little brain fartie. For starters, I'm not particularly a Reba partisan, but she's at least moderately talented- and a heck of a nice gal who has done nothing to earn this disrespect. Besides which, why would you say such a thing? What is that supposed to do for you, other than make you look like a disrespectful, arrogant bitch?

But Sister Emily isn't going to let the other get all the arrogance. Just randomly picking out any excuse for an unearned display of superiority, Miss Emily says "Would Bruce Springsteen do The View?" Oh yes, the Dixie Chicks are SO much more significant than Barbara Walters. There's probably just country music fans watching the show anyway.

Until recently, these DIXIE Chicks were at least nominally a country act. They would have pretty much exactly the same fan base as these mainstream modern commercial country acts. I'm not a big fan of modern commercial country music generally, but Toby Keith and Reba McEntire are towards the better end of that.

The classic country music statement of class consciousness was the studied advise of Flatt and Scruggs, "Don't Get Above Your Raisin'." But that's exactly what they've done. It doesn't sound so much as if Natalie Maines is ashamed that Bush is from Texas as that she's ashamed that SHE is Texan.

They haven't particularly mutated to any strikingly new musical style, but they're just too good for their old one. The Dixie Chicks don't even WANT anyone for a fan that would be gauche enough to listen to - turn up nose in disgust - REBA MCENTIRE. Catering to such morons could only limit their avant artistic vision. Yuck.

That Miss Martie would take this kind of attitude based on the contrived corporate country cheese-food product that she's produced with the Dixie Chicks suggests serious self-delusion. One suspects that she might be really high from sniffing her own smugness, like the doomed San Franciscans caught in the South Park "Smug Alert." Perhaps that's what's causing her to be so (as Hannibal Lecter would say) unspeakably rude. Who was it told her that she's better than Reba McEntire, much less that the Dixie Chicks are too good to even be in the same record collection with her?

Andy Kaufman kicked his wrestling career into gear with a famous Tennessee press conference in which he explained that he was a rich entertainer from Hollywood, and he had come on behalf of the beautiful people to teach the hicks how to act. He as much as whipped out a bar of soap, which use he demonstrated to the great (literal) unwashed masses.

But Andy Kaufman was an artist, or at least a thinking dude. He was TRYING to collect all the cracker's goats that he could corral. He INTENDED to make everyone hate him. The complete over-the-topness of it makes it really more a criticism of the likes of George Clooney than of the rednecks, anyway. But basically, Kaufman was totally consciously striving to make everyone hate him like a classic wrestling heel character.

Whereas one must suspect that the Dixie Chicks are just too dumb to realize how childish and contemptible their behavior and attitudes are as they talk down to those stupid people who buy country records. Selling a few records is great, but it doesn't mean that you're better than everybody else, or that you should show such lack of appreciation or respect for exactly the people who bought all those damned Dixie Chicks records. Ingrates.

Natalie Maines displays herself as a particularly ugly face of human nature with a story from high school that she's proud to trump up to the Time reporter. "As a high school senior in Lubbock, Texas, she'd skip a class a day in an attempt to prove that because she never got caught and some Mexican students did, the system was racist." This petty and distasteful grasping for a cheap sense of moral superiority exhibits perfectly the shallowness of the artist.

She helpfully lays it out precisely in the comments with which the Time reporter concluded their big feature, "It was awesome to feel those feelings again that I felt in high school: to be angry, to be sure that you're right and that the things you do matter. You don't realize that you're not feeling those feelings until you do. And then you realize how much more interesting life is."

Wowee, zowee, what a toxic moral stew she's cooking up there. Natalie Maines WANTS to be mad at the world. That's an "awesome" feeling. On top of which, she's RIGHT and everyone who disagrees is simply wrong. What exactly it is that she's right about, I'm not sure. But that doesn't particularly matter. It only matters that she's RIGHT. Finally, she's getting off on "mattering." That is, she's in a position to inflict both her anger and her insights about her own superiority onto innocent bystanders. Wow.

The girl would be dangerous if she had a brain. Or are the Dixie Chicks really geniuses, conjuring up all these multiple layers of contemptible displays of petty arrogance, ignorance and malice as part of a meta-artistic performance art statement?

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posted by Al at 5/27/2006 12:59:00 AM

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