If you go see the Dixie Chicks doc Shut Up & Sing, which opens tomorrow, and come away thinking, "I'd really like to see less of the band and more of the protestors," well, we have a movie for you. It's called Protesting the Dixie Chicks, and, if nothing else, there's definite truth in its advertising. The movie, which was directed by Washington, D.C.-based Christoper Fleeger and will be available on DVD tomorrow, features nothing but protestors, pro and con, for the entirety of its 59 minutes.
You won't hear a single note of Chicks music or a single word from Natalie Maines or sisters Emily Robison and Martie Maguire; for that, you'll need to see Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck's illuminating doc, among the year's best. Fleeger, who followed the band during its 2003 U.S. tour, is forced to use dolls as stand-ins, next to which he runs screens full of text without accompanying audio. What Fleeger does offer is a parade of protestors, including one baseball-capped good ol' boy on his way to the Dallas show in May 2003 who tells the filmmaker, "They should be shot for saying something like that." (You can hear some folks giggling in the background.) The American Airlines Center gig also features prominently in Kopple and Peck's movie, about which there's a story in this week's Dallas Observer: It was here, after all, that Maines' life was threatened by a man she insists is "cute" when she's shown a picture of him by local law-enforcement officers.
In a poorly punctuated release sent along with a copy of the DVD, Fleeger writes that his movie "focuses on the people who were inspired to add their voices and views to this storm of controversy," and how much of that you can stomach is your call; me, the only thing I find more ennervating than attending protests is watching them on DVD. "The film has also captured a crucial moment when Americans sought to censor dissenting voices preferring to support military actions which are now considered to have been monumental errors and according to recent polls are considered the biggest problem facing America today."