Filed under: Comment
I made by bed, and I sleep like a baby
With no regrets and I don’t mind saying
It’s a sad sad story
That a mother will teach her daughter
that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world
Can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they’d write me a letter
Saying that I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell
And I don’t have time
To go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is
You think I should
The above lyrics are to the song ‘I’m Not Ready To Make Nice’ by US group, The Dixie Chicks. The song was their response to the unbelievably hostile reaction they received at the hands of US companies and music fans when at a concert in London, they casually quipped they were ’embarrassed to come from the same state as George W Bush’.
Within days their records were being burnt, their concerts were being cancelled and death threats were being sent through the mail – which not only led to the band almost splitting up, but made a mockery of America’s ‘freedom of speech’.
The fact that the girls – especially feisty lead singer, Natalie Maines – refused to back down is fantastic and having followed the whole sorry episode in their brilliant DVD [Shut Up And Sing] I have a massive respect for them – far more than I will ever have for someone like Bono or any other of his bandwagon-jumping pals.
What really struck me was the Dixie Chicks ‘fight’ … not just that they defended themselves, but that they took the issue on and played it out on a bigger stage, regardless of the implications on their career.
Compare that response to how most corporations would act.
If anything negative is said, they tend to immediately apologise or clam up – before disappearing into the background until the dust has settled.
Hell, Hill & Knowlton – one of the most well known and respected PR companies in the World – openly state that their first response to clients [who are in situations that could cause corporate harm] is to say ‘nothing’ – and they charge billions of dollars for that advice!
OK … so the situation that the Dixie Chicks found themselves in is probably quite different to that of most corporations … however it does seem we are becoming a nation where standing up for what you believe in is left to ‘some other guy’ rather than take the issue on ourselves.
To be honest, that’s not really that surprising when we are exposed to millions of messages each and every day subliminally telling us to SHUT THE FUCK UP and carry on as normal!
Hell the bible probably started it all off when they told the masses “The meek shall inherit the Earth” which is hardly a subtle declaration to keep quiet and let the powerful people get on with whatever they want because ultimately it’ll be for your own good.
There’s a great quote in Michael Moore’s new movie ‘Sicko’ where someone describes the difference between the French Government and the US.
“The French Government are scared of the population and so actively work in their best interests whereas the US population are frightened of their Government so let them get on with whatever they want to do”
You see while democracy is a wonderful thing – if culturally you are more inner focused than outer aware, you end up voting for what is right for YOU rather than what is right for all of you – and if someone questions society on its actions, you end up being treated in the same manner as the Dixie Chicks … which is probably why so many politicians are toothless idiots these days.
I don’t really know what I am trying to say in this post [I’m sure you’ve gathered that already] and I appreciate there’s massive holes in my argument – but I just feel we need to create/become more heroes because if we don’t, we’re going to embrace a life of conformity which [I believe] is one of the most dangerous thing facing society.
Once when I was working on Coke, I ran some research groups where I made the participants watch a compendium of epic movie moments. Every film I showed featured the pivotal moment where the central character triumphed over adversity – from Erin Brockovich’s speech to the big corporate lawyers trying to shut her down, to Rocky’s final exhausted punch to glory through to Al Pachno’s adrenalin inducing speeches in Scent Of A Woman or Any Given Sunday and pretty much everything inbetween.
Anyway after we watched all this, we discussed how these clips had affected the viewers, and almost all of them to a man started talking about how they connected to the characters for two different reasons …
1 They wanted to see the character succeed in their quest.
2 It encouraged them [even if for a micro second] to go out and stand up to the wrongs they felt were going on in their immediate lives.
Did any of them then go out and change their World?
I have no idea – but what I do know is that if a movie character can make people feel positive and optimistic about their life, then the more ‘real’ heroes we have can only be for the better.
What has this all to do with adland?
Nothing really – except my industry is one of the worst offenders in ‘talking’ rather than acting – so maybe if they stopped pretending to be on the cutting edge of the new and stopped trying to create big news out of little evolutions of change [Channel Planning anyone?] then it might, just might reclaim some respect as a home for the ingenius, creative and imaginative.
In all seriousness, I have more respect for The Smiths than I do for most in adland – at least they stood up for what they believed whereas most ad agencies never do anything that they fear could alienate the client.
For them, their policy seems to be ‘never offend’ whereas The Smiths lived by the belief of ‘inspirational actions’.
Me supporting The Smiths? I’m either tired, ill, or very serious about more of us needing to make a stand rather than a little bit of noise!
PS: Sorry how preachy this has come across, it wasn’t meant that way – blame it on the jetlag, that’s as good an excuse as any 🙂
40 Comments so far
Leave a comment