I’ve never really cared about the Dixie Chicks beyond this record, and I had to look up what they did that was so terrible. So I don’t like “Not Ready To Make Nice” (embedding disabled) because of its political relevance, but because of its cultural and personal resonance. Even though it’s not really ‘about’ this at all, it’s the best song I’ve heard concerning the moment when some ridiculous situation tips over from “WRONG ON THE INTERNET” into actually surreal rage and wild, disproportionate hate.
Since I’ve spent a huge proprtion of my time this decade dealing with spits and spats and sudden real crises online I can very much sympathise. OK, nobody’s ever threatened me with death and the Chicks’ protesters weren’t just virtual, but the net is usually an inflamer of angry situations: it makes judgement easy, quick and usually cost-free.
And I’ve seen enough Internet freak-outs to know that amongst the fear and verbal violence there’s always an element of incredulity, a bafflement that things have got this bad, an awareness (however deep-buried) of hate’s scary absurdity. “Not Ready To Make Nice” catches this – the Dixie Chicks don’t just defy their opponents, they pity them. But also the extended, rising verse at the crux of the song – especially coming after Maines’ troll-baiting (hence also trolling) “I kinda like it” – works as a dramatisation of the kind of dam-bursting righteous anger that exists on both sides of a wildfire argument.