Dixies, dissent and dollars
I don't believe in boycotting people because of what they say. Sure, I make fun of George Clooney and Madonna for trying to be political pundits when they are not, but I am not going to give up George Clooney movies just because he subcribes to an opposite ideology than I do. I like George Clooney movies.
On the other hand, I don't own anything by Madonna, but that's because I think she is a talentless hack and has nothing to do with her political stance.
So when the Dixie Chicks did their little "I hate George Bush" number over in Europe, I thought it was nothing more than a misguided, opportunistic sound-bite - the girls trying to connect with their Blair-bashing, USA-hating audience. Sure it was crass and even a bit idiotic on their part. But that's what free speech gets you. You take the good, you take the bad. They come part and parcel with the freedom to run your mouth.
Which all gave me just as much right to call the girls idiots or wankers or really bad musicians. Yin and yang, you know?
So months later, the Dixie Chicks are crying that their dissent has cost them dearly. They have been branded and boycotted and berated. This is where the old adage "think before you speak" comes into play. Maybe they have learned something from this.
Actually, they have learned something. They learned that radio-station prompted boycotts are meaningless and no matter how many people want to stamp on your right to free speech, and no matter how many fans of yours claim that they will never, ever listen to your music again and they will tear down your posters and boycott your concerts, American consumers are basically full of shit and when their radio is turned off and their anti-Dixie Chicks newsletter has been deleted from their mailbox, they will run out and buy the new cd.
The Dixie Chicks are more popular now than ever. They have made a career move out of a negative situation. Number one on Billboard, prime-time television interviews, the cover of Entertainment Weekly. Yes, dissent is patriotic, because very public dissent keeps you in the public eye, which leads to that great American past time of keeping the cash registers ringing. Capitalism at its finest.
I mean, who would really know that Tim Robbins still existed (except as Mr. Sarandon) if not for his public tirades against George Bush? Would Bill Maher have a tv show or Michael Moore an Oscar or Arianna Huffington a website if not for loud, public dissent?
It's a marketing tool. The people who decry capitalism and all things America are the ones scooping up the cash by the fistful because they cry the loudest.
Don't cry for the Dixie Chicks. They have risen to the top of the pop culture ladder because they said some nasty things about the president.
Ain't that America?