A rather self-congratulatory update on the Dixie Chicks from the UK's Guardian:
- Ever since Natalie Maines, the Dixie Chicks' lead singer, told a London audience they were "ashamed that the president of the United States of America is from Texas", the group has found itself in the eye of a storm that has threatened to destroy their careers. The comment, made last March during a concert at the Shepherd's Bush Empire, three days before America and Britain went to war in Iraq, was applauded by the audience.
The American ambassador to Britain didn't appear overly offended and, after the show, asked to have his photograph taken with the trio. But when a review of the concert in the Guardian, the only newspaper whose critic reported the comment, was picked up by a country-music website in Nashville, all hell broke lose. Before you could say shock and awe, Clear Channel, which owns 1,200 radio stations in America and helped to fund Bush's election campaign, had banned Dixie Chicks records from the airwaves "out of respect for our troops and our listeners". Cumulus Media, the second largest radio conglomerate, with 270 stations, also banned them, while right-wing press commentators had a field day denouncing them as traitors and dubbing the group "the Dixie Sluts" and "Saddam's Angels".
Not shy to let us know they were the only paper to report Natalie's statement, are they? They don't pretend to be neutral either:
- The obnoxiously gung-ho country singer Toby Keith (who, in the wake of 9/11, scored a country number one with an offensive record called Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American), which threatened "we'll put a boot in your ass, it's the American way", launched his own anti-Chicks crusade. His shows now feature a backdrop depicting Maines and Saddam Hussein as lovers. Another image has her face superimposed on the body of a toad.
In conservative country-music circles, Keith's crude attacks have gone uncriticised. But Maines faced a fresh backlash when she responded by turning up to a country music awards ceremony wearing a T-shirt bearing the slogan: "f.u.t.k."
And, remarkably, the reporter blames this episode on the Chicks' backlash:
- Standing in line at Cincinnati airport, an immigration officer asks the purpose of our visit. When we tell him we're here to interview the Texan trio, he refrains from spitting on federal property. But you can hear the sound of phlegm gathering in the back of his throat. "They should string those girls up," he snarls.