"I think we were one of the first people to feel that 'cancel culture,'" said singer Natalie Maines

By Benjamin VanHoose
March 16, 2020 11:30 AM
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The Dixie Chicks count themselves as patient zero when it comes to “cancel culture.”

Bandmates Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire and Emily Strayer stopped by The Ellen DeGeneres Show for Monday’s episode of the talk show, opening up about being among the first entertainers to be blacklisted for public comments considered to be controversial.

“I think we were one of the first people to feel that ‘cancel culture’ and I think, you know, what we said — or, what I said — back then would not even be a thing today because it was really mild compared to what people say today,” said Maines.

Seventeen years ago, on March 10, 2003, Maines made a brief comment ahead of a concert in London, voicing her disapproval of the Iraq war and then-President George W. Bush. “Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all,” the singer said at the time. “We do not want this war, this violence. And we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.”

Backlash quickly ensued — fans burned their CDs and radios banned their music from airwaves — as the country trio’s music career halted amid the controversy.

“On one hand, everyone has this forum where they can say whatever they want to say, but on the other hand this platform can move really quickly and ruin people’s lives,” Maines told DeGeneres.

Ellen DeGeneres plays along with the Dixie Chicks on The Ellen DeGeneres Show
| Credit: Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.
Groundbreaking country-pop trio Dixie Chicks make an exclusive appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” airing Monday, March 16th.
From left: Emily Strayer, Martie Maguire, Natalie Maines and Ellen DeGeneres
| Credit: Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.

The talk show host, 62, called the current tendency for public opinion to turn on celebrities who speak their opinions “sad,” agreeing with the Dixie Chicks that society should better accept differing ideologies.

“I think we need to get back to where we all just celebrate our differences, and we all have different opinions and it’s okay to have strong opinions,” said DeGeneres. “As long as you’re not hurting somebody else, you can speak your opinion.”

Earlier this month, the Dixie Chicks charted their return to the public eye with the release of “Gaslighter,” their first new single in 13 years and first off their upcoming album, out May 1.

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Speaking with Allure for the magazine’s April 2020 issue, Maines reflected on the fallout of her statements, expressing shock that the country music industry was so swift to ostracize them at the time.

“When we started doing this music, I liked the people in our industry. We always waved that country flag when people would say it wasn’t cool. And then to see how quickly the entire industry turned on us,” said Maines of the immediate backlash.

She added: “I wanted the audience to know who we were and what we were about. I do not like when artists get on their soapbox — it’s not what people are there for; they’re there to listen to your music — [but] the politics of this band is inseparable from the music.”