The all American female country band, the Dixie Chicks, have endured countless criticisms throughout their career surrounding the controversial political statements and images displayed during concert performances. The Dixie Chicks are a talented group of musical performers and possess “virtuoso” through their skilled voices (the human body) and musical instruments (technology), which speaks to their amazing craft, or techne (“special talent”). Through the intersection of the human body and technology, the groups musical performances continue to push the boundaries of the music industry within the United States. The Dixie Chicks address sensitive political issues through the amalgamation of bold words and images. During the Top of The World Tour, lead singer Natalie Maines publicly stated that she was ashamed with President George W. Bush and his decision to go to war with Iraq.
“Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas”
After Natalie’s controversial comments towards Bush, the group endured negative public and audience backlash, was banned from certain radio stations and received personal death threats.
This comment sparked huge criticism globally, sales and ratings drops significantly and a decline in audience support—greatly disrupting the Dixie Chicks commercial networks. The group (a node) began to act in an unintended or “non-performing” way and consequently began to be pushed out and replaced by another node in the larger network it was part of. The Red Cross even refused a million dollar charitable donation on behalf of the group, displaying how easily power can shift within networks. In response to the public condemnation the group put out the documentary “Shut Up & Sing,” which follows the groups struggles through the years of public scrutiny suffered.
Checkout the trailer for Shut Up & Sing!
It should come as no surprise then that during the Presidential Campaign, the Dixie Chicks waged political combat on Donald Trump and defaced his image with devil horns and a mustache during the playing of the song Goodbye Earl. The song Goodbye Earl is about a physically abusive husband named Earl who repeatedly harms his wife Rhonda, so Rhonda and her friend kill Earl. While the group is known for their great musical virtuosity, they might be even better known for their use of powerful political messages to transform and alter the flows of power within society. As Castell states, “in almost all countries media have become the space for politics […] the most effective political weapons are negative messages” (Castell, 13). The group has been “phased out” of certain networks because their values were “contradictory to the programmed goals,” yet nonetheless the Dixie Chicks continue to use their musical abilities to generate political discussion (Castell, 16).