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Sorry Chicks

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

Like it or not, a musician, actor or entertainer is selling a product. And consumers who buy the products have certain expectations.

The expectations associated with musicians who incorporate the word "Dixie" in their name, and perform traditional country and bluegrass music, are obviously going to be different from the expectations associated, for instance, with grunge rockers.

So how do the Dixie Chicks try and reconcile with fans who have been estranged as a result of unmet expectations? They get naked on the cover of a magazine. At least Michael Moore didn't go this route ­ thank God for small favors.

Do these country croonettes and/or their handlers really believe that disaffected devotees are going to flock back to the Chicks' ranch just because they show some skin? Well, apparently that's the plan.

Along with the buff strategy comes a worried-faced Diane Sawyer and her fact-altering unreality show. On an April 24, 2003, ABC "Primetime Thursday" program, the Dixie Chicks paused, sighed, sobbed and sniffled their way through a softball interview.

Noticeably absent from the scene were any signs of contrition. What was evident in the patter, though, particularly on the part of Natalie Maines, was defiance. Her admissions were usually either qualified or countered by some further inappropriate pap.

She owned up to "wrong wording" but claimed that her erroneous message was made "with genuine emotion and questions and concern." At one point, Maines moaned, "Am I sorry that I asked questions and that I just don't follow? No."

But let's look at the actual sequence of events. Maines was on a concert stage. She was overseas in the U.K. Contrary to whatever she says was going on in her head, she didn't ask any questions during her performance. Instead, what the British audience heard on the eve of the war was a statement of her embarrassment that the U.S. commander in chief hailed from the same state that she did.

Wrong time. Wrong place. Wrong words.

It's pretty clear that the lead chick is no fan of the president. Maines told the syrupy-faced Sawyer that she "felt there was a lack of compassion every time I saw Bush talking about this [the war]. "

When asked whether she had anything to say to the president, the singer wisecracked, "Your show's not long enough."

Her statements seem to emanate from that time-honored liberal value of ducking responsibility. The message the public is getting from Maines is that, no matter what, she's not going to change. She's not seeking forgiveness. She doesn't think she needs it. But she is calling for acceptance.

Even though Dixie Chicks' songs were removed from many radio station play lists, the group is still riding high on the record charts and selling a bundle of concert tickets. And in the world of entertainment, getting a TV special and a big magazine cover aren't exactly viewed as punishment.

From a personal perspective, the whole thing just looks to me like a naked attempt to attract a more "chic" and less "Dixie" kind of audience.

Reproduced with the permission of . All rights reserved

Copyright © 2003
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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