i've been a fan of the Dixie Chicks for years - "Wide Open Spaces" was released at an ideal time for it to become my anthem, even though i'd loathed country music before then. when i got the call about the screening, i'd just been to see the Chicks live on their Accidents & Accusations tour - a truly amazing show - so of course i jumped at the chance to see the movie. it was so good, so unbelievably good, that i ordered my own copy when it was released on DVD last week and watched it again over the weekend. Al Gore is great and all, but this documentary kicks his in the ass, so much. it's incredible.
everyone knows the story by now - the Chicks opened their tour in England in March of 2003. there had been a gigantic war protest earlier in the day only a short distance from the theater, and the invasion of Iraq was imminent. that night on stage, Natalie was trying to endear herself to the fans, connect with them, so said she was on their side - she and the other Chicks felt the same way about the war, violence wasn't the answer. then she said, "And we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas." and that one little sentence ignited a maelstrom so insanely out of proportion, it would be hard to believe if it weren't all on film.
the documentary is so great because it's done in cinéma verité. the filmmakers let the wingnuts speak for themselves; thus, their bass-ackwardness comes through loud and clear. their mass disposing and destruction of formerly beloved Dixie Chicks CDs just looks like a pitiful temper tantrum. their rants to country music station producers are almost comical. then there was the woman protesting outside a Dixie Chicks concert somewhere in the south. her powerful message? "screw 'em." then she tries to get her baby to say it. "right?" she says to the poor innocent kid. "screw 'em...c'mon, say it." the kid - clearly smarter than his mom - stayed quiet.
meanwhile, because it was still 2003, the Dixie Chicks had eight million consultants and publicists and god knows who advising them about damage control. one guy in particular was adamant about Natalie expressing her support for Bush and the war, because it was all going extremely well, the war would be over in another two weeks and the President would be a hero. oh, the irony. the bittersweet irony.
my absolute favorite part is when Natalie reads a transcript of Bush's comments about the Dixie Chicks controversy. during an interview with one of the evening news anchors, he said, "they shouldn't get their feelings hurt because some people don't want to buy their records." Natalie reads this with disgust and says, "we shouldn't get our feelings hurt? what a dumbf*ck!" then she looks into the camera, "you're a dumbf*ck!"
it's such a perfect moment in the movie because she was right. the war was a disastrous idea, now everyone is ashamed the President is from the United States, let alone Texas, and the country is so desperate for new leadership that the 2008 race is already underway. the current perspective makes what happened to the Dixie Chicks even more ridiculous - there were death threats and boycotts and a lot of hullabaloo over nothing. but, as everyone knows, the Chicks came out on top and i love that. i love that they wrote a passionate, no-holds-barred album, and then swept the Grammys. i love that Natalie hasn't shut her big mouth yet. and i love that someone was smart enough to make a documentary of the whole thing. maybe those wingnuts will finally shut up and watch it.