February 07, 2007

Oh, Look! The Bottom of the Hole! Keep Digging!

You know, the thing that I find most tiresome about each and every instance of Academic Overreach Versus The Public is how it inevitably becomes a ginormous whinefest of epic proportions, with keening cries of "Oh, I've been silenced!" and "Oh, the dread Chilling Effect!" being given air by every public and media forum around.

Look, it's my old friend Irony! How ya doin'?

Irony: I demand beer. Copious amounts of beer.

Me: Why? Because it's Wednesday?

Irony: No, because I am working my ass off with this whole Group of 88 "we're so oppressed we have to have a public seminar about it" crap, and not ONE PERSON in the group has bothered to recognize me. Seriously, is it too much to ask that a "silenced" academic take one or two minutes out of his or her full slate of media interviews to thank me? IS IT?!?!

Me: I'm detecting bitterness, I.

Irony: You bet your bippy! I mean, it's one thing when a bunch of "silenced" singers releases AN ENTIRE ALBUM ABOUT HOW SILENCED THEY ARE, because hey! I don't expect artistic types to be able to pull their heads out long enough to recognize my presence, but these people are PhD holders in the humanities! They should at least have a passing familiarity with literary terms! WHAT is the university coming to?

Me: Do you really want an answer to that?

Irony: No. I'm depressed enough. Beer me.

Me: Done. Mind if I join you?

Posted by Big Arm Woman at February 7, 2007 05:05 PM | TrackBack

I hope someone brave makes a documentary about them. It is art's duty to speak for those unable to speak for themselves. I would do it, but I wasn't able to get a word in edgewise to suggest it to them.

Posted by: marc at February 7, 2007 05:18 PM

"You bet your bippy!"

With a reference like that, just how old are you?

Posted by: Locomotive Breath at February 7, 2007 07:11 PM

LB -

I'm on the high side of 30, but just because I'm a sad little Gen-Xer doesn't mean that I'm not hip to the Laugh-In Jive...

Posted by: BAW at February 7, 2007 09:09 PM

The problem with making a documentary is that the script wouldn't be much longer than this post, the flourescent idiocy being that obvious to anyone who would ever understand it.

I, personally, don't wonder about the people in the Group of 88. Although it seems stupid to us, clearly it's working for them in a career sense. The people to worry about are the ones keeping those careers humming along.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at February 7, 2007 11:06 PM

"the current of criticism and attempts at intimidation directed against faculty who comment on larger social and political issues, and following the events of last spring, this forum addresses connections between faculty interests and local, national, and international politics."

Oh, puke. When did people like this become so obtuse and thin-skinned that they don't distinguish between criticism and intimidation? There's kind of a huge difference. Yet another class of viciously persecuted professionals suffering for their harmless yet deeply held beliefs. The gulags are starting to get crowded.

Posted by: Emily at February 8, 2007 01:08 PM

Could you point out how the entire Dixie Chicks album is about being silenced? In fact, could you point to event one specific line of one song on that album that's about being silenced?

Posted by: CM at February 8, 2007 02:01 PM

CM! Nice to hear from you again - and no, I'm not being sarcastic.

Their last album has been described as a "defiant resonse" to their whole "OMG people are MEEEEEEEN" experience, and surviving the apparent horrors of discovering that just because you are surrounded by sycophants at work, you might not be in the real world.

They are part and parcel of the "We Are Brave For Speaking Out in A Society Where the Consequences for Speaking Out Consist Mainly of a Diatribe by Bill O'Reilly and Decreased Album Sales, and Oh, Did We Mention the Sympathetic Treatment by 60 Minutes and Subsequent Documentary?" club, and the irony of that, in a world where female muslims who criticize their own religion must then spend the rest of their lives in hiding is simply enormous, and further proof of exactly how out of touch some folks can be.

When the out of touch are in entertainment, it's fairly simple to laugh off. Not so much in academia--at least for me.

Links? Here's a TIME article that dissects the lyrics in terms of silencing: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1187173,00.html

Or the NPR piece: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6429158

Or just for kicks you can Google "natalie maines silenced" and read the fun! Of course, bloggers abound there, so I can't vouch for the sanity.

Lyrics? See "Not Ready to Make Nice." The video is a nice counterpoint as well, especially with the black paint "smearing" their white frocks.

Posted by: BAW at February 8, 2007 11:02 PM

Link to first hand account of the meeting...


Posted by: Locomotive Breath at February 13, 2007 11:36 AM

I read the lyrics to Not Ready to Make Nice, and they're not about being silenced, unless you're using a very broad definition of "silenced." It's about the threats and the really stupid criticism they received.

The issue of female Muslims is irrelevant here. I'm not sure why you bring it up. The fact that someone somewhere has it worse than you doesn't mean that you don't have a right to complain about your situation. Otherwise survivors of genocide would be the only ones with a right to complain about something.

They faced more than a diatribe by Bill O'Reilly by the way. Radio stations banned them and two DJs were suspended for playing a song by them. And they received death threats.

If you look at the larger picture and the incredibly stupid behavior of their critics, I don't know why the Dixie Chicks should be the ones under scrutiny here.

The documentaries, "Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing" and "Protesting the Dixie Chicks", and afaik the 60 Minutes show weren't commissioned by them.

Posted by: CM at February 13, 2007 02:05 PM

Oooh. radio stations "banned" them. More quasi-censorship crap, serving only to reinforce BAW's point. Some radio stations refused their merchandise -- that's what it really meant. Just like I can refuse merchandise I consider offensive.

Item: The Dixie Chicks (you do understand the 'dixie' part, right ?) apparently wanted to play on their real or imagined Southern heritage.

Item: The Southern heritage is steeped in America, Momma, and Apple Pie.

Item: The DC's largest fan base prior to their marketing stupidity was Country & Western music fans.

Item: C&W; fans tend, more than others I've known, to being steeped in America, Momma, and Apple Pie.

(Are you beginning to understand the depths of their marketing stupidity ?)

Item: On tour, they expressed a viewpoint not shared by the majority of their fan base. In a feat of stupidity not matched in recent memory, they did so DURING the concert. In so doing, they wedded their politics to their music.

Item: The did this while abroad, in defiance of the Southern heritage of "Don't air dirty linen in front of strangers."

And then they are shocked ! shocked ! when their previous fan base evaporated like a drop of water on a hotplate. How godawful stupid do you have to be to whiz all over your fans' sensibilities in public and not expect a backlash ?

And when radio stations -- responding sensibly to their own audience -- promise to never again play a Dixie Chicks song, it's not "censorship," it's the free market in action.

The 1st Amendment protects the Dixie Chicks from the government, it does NOT protect them their own colossal stupidity.

And for the record, note that I have never argued the politics of their opinion, only the stupefying foolishness of being upset when their previous fan base gets cranky.

And also, for the record, I have no Southern heritage, being born and raised in New York. But having travelled a lot, I pay attention to people, and so was not surprised at the actions of folks who they upset.

Death threats ? Big deal.. I've seen far too many extremists on both sides ranting their crap to take it seriously. And here, I'm with BAW -- the Dixie Chicks don't have nearly as much to fear as women in fundamentalist islamic countries. So I guess that's relevant after all....

Posted by: 1charlie2 at February 13, 2007 07:49 PM
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