Tuesday, October 31, 2006

SHUT UP and See this Film!

Saw the documentary SHUT UP AND SING tonight. It's really good, but like INCONVENIENT TRUTH, it preaches to the choir.

I'm not a country music fan, but there are a lot of interesting things in the movie. Natalie Maines, the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, is much smarter than one would be led to believe by both the mainstream media and much of her music. Clearly the best musician of the three as well, she was the one who made the comment between songs that led to the group's infamy.

One of the interesting sidebars of the film is the fact that even with radio boycotting their single, the Dixie Chicks follow-up album of politically-motivated material hit number one without ANY radio airplay. Amazingly, they became a much better group when their label (Sony) and Clear Channel (virtually a monopoly on major radio stations) no longer forced them to be the group that they thought the public wanted.

Radio is dead. Thank god. As I've mentioned in class, the audience for pop music now is more musically literate than ever, and has broader tastes. Pop radio no longer serves them, once the Internet opened their ears to the many other sources available.

As for the political content of the film, it's inherent in art that the artist injects his or her beliefs into the medium of their choice. Great composers, writers, and directors have always put their politics into their work, and since songs have lyrics, they will always reflect their point of view.

The mistake the Chicks made was making the statement in between songs. If they had simply written a song about the war, they would have been fine, and in fact, now that the did that, they are fine.

Nonetheless, the film is an important statement about censorship in the media. Not since the McCarty era have we seen such a concerted effort to squelch the dissident voice.

See this film.
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