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"What's going on?" with pop culture, artists, and the politics of war: The Dixie Chicks as a case study in narratives of resistance

Kristi L Gerding, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


I utilize narrative to analyze both the ontological (theoretical) and epistemological (methodological) elements of the public discourse surrounding the Dixie Chicks' March 2003 declaration of shame for the President. My goal for this project was to uncover how popular culture contexts provide resources for our individual agency; constructions of our ability to stand as self-oriented and self-motivated agents. I use, (a) citizen-generated commentary, (b) popular news reports, (c) the Chicks' own responses, and (d) the discourse, such as popular country music songs, which establish the expectations that fans have for their celebrated artists. This allowed me to examine the symbols centering on character, act, and context in order to get a sense for how the dominant, public narrative puts the pieces of the story together in order to create a vision of the world. The meaning that results from the portrayal of the Chicks' resistance includes: (a) the championing of an aggressive patriot, (b) the connection between a rough, redneck character and Middle-American values, and (c) a 'shut up and sing' attitude which diminishes the agency of celebrity-artists. A critical analysis of this narrative reveals: (a) that the above named constructions have consequences upon the shaping of our agency, (b) that popular culture both enables and constrains resistance in various ways, (c) that resistance is caught in a contradiction---it has to be popular, yet, it cannot be, and (d) we need to change our theoretical conceptualizations regarding both master and counter narratives and postmodern and modern theory.^

Subject Area

American Studies|Music|Speech Communication

Recommended Citation

Gerding, Kristi L, ""What's going on?" with pop culture, artists, and the politics of war: The Dixie Chicks as a case study in narratives of resistance" (2006). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3230061.