Swimming against the tide like the Dixie Chicks

Natalie Maines is the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks (DC). They were hot in 2003. Hot as in topping the Country Music charts.

Image: Rolling Stone

Image: Rolling Stone

In 2003 George Bush was riding high in the popular opinion polls having declared war on terror and the whole Iraq/Iran thing was happening. A vengeful American public was high on patriotism.

At one of the DC concerts Natalie spoke out against GWB. Her exact words to her London audience at the time were:

“Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.” 

For her trouble, most C&W radio stations blacklisted them and consequently destroyed the band and their livelihood.

Entertainers often have things to say about society. (One can argue that art is one such an expression.) Sinead O’Conner attacking the Pope, for instance.

And commentators have done a lot worse. Ted Nugent for instance compared Obama to Hitler. Chris Brown physically abused his wife. The list is very long.

The strange thing here is that although what Nugent said is clearly much more vicious and personal, he suffered no backlash. Hank Williams echoed his sentiments and although he was dumped from ESPN, no radio station blacklisted him, like they did the DC.

The Dixie Chicks simply expressed an opinion that, at that time, wasn’t popular. The supreme irony is that public opinion has since swung completely and the vast majority of Americans dismissed George Bush’s presidency as, to put it mildly, a failure. His high opinion polls tanked from historic highs to historic lows.

One could argue that the public (eventually) agreed with Natalie Maines.

They did not forgive her and they did not rectify the damage they caused. The DC are still blacklisted.

We shrug our shoulders and say, c’est la’vie. They swam against the tide and paid the price. There is no justice in the world.

But I can’t help but wonder. Why is it that certain causes grab the attention of people? I am thinking particularly at the most common form of crowds and communities and that is the Social Media Mobs. The crack-smoking mayor (Rob Ford, Toronto) and the New York Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner for ‘sexting’ are pursued and ridiculed for breaching the community’s expectations of decency.

But they do nothing when radio stations- against the general community views - destroy people’s lives unilaterally and deprive them of the opportunity to express their views simply because they are different.

Social media is ruled by mob mentality. There is really no rhyme or reason other than whatever is popular at the time, for a cause to be embraced and for a cause to be ignored.

You are probably reading this on some form of social media or at least it may have led you to this post. This is not a personal accusation. Individuals can act rationally and I am sure you do too. It is when we get caught up in a mob that things change. It is no consolation for the poor sucker caught in it that they might be ‘right’. To the mob it does not matter.

It is so sad that this must be one of the unintended consequences of social media.