Monday, May 22, 2006

If they're only paid to sing and dance...

Photo by Jill Greenberg for TIME

The latest issue of TIME magazine is out, and the cover article is devoted to a country music trio known as The Dixie Chicks. You may remember when one of them told a crowd in London they were ashamed of their president. (That would be the one in the middle of the photo, at the bulls-eye.) I'm betting very few artists mouth that kind of drivel out of any sense of conviction, so much as to get some mileage in the form of publicity.

Well, they got mileage alright. More than they bargained for. Now some country music stations won't play their music, since these little Chickadees overlooked the fact that country music audiences tend to be conservative and fiercely patriotic. And that's a shame, not because of their astute political wisdom, as they have none to offer -- they don't make their living with it, remember? -- but because they are female artists who actually play their instruments, and play them very well. And that, my little Chicklets, is what is needed in the recording industry today. Women are still treated as "eye candy" by the business, and I daresay the women themselves generally play right into it.* Even these would-be heroines have to admit that. After all, one can't imagine it was entirely their decision to lose the cowgirl garb in favor of the sexy outfits that make them look like everyone else. Nor could it have served to diss the imaginary "Nashville establishment," which is just another transparent marketing ploy, designed to make the alleged miscreants look interesting.

And if it was their decision... well, it only proves the point even more.

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* Mary Chapin Carpenter is one of the few who does not. She even writes her own songs, and doesn't need others' stuff to make the hit parade. You go, grrl!

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