Shut Up And Sing

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This is actually kind of interesting. Reuters is picking up the story of Barbara Streisand's little incident where she told a member of the audience to, "Shut the **** up". But they are reporting fan reaction, not the incident per se. It's not all that pretty for Babs.

Streisand apologized to the audience of about 20,000 people for losing her temper, but her outburst and inclusion of her political views in her show alienated some fans who have written to newspapers and Web sites to rebuke her.

One fan, Margaret Ferrante, said she was outraged to hear Streisand ridicule an audience member and any Republicans in the audience.

"She turned a display of her phenomenal musical talent into a profanity-laden attack on people who paid good money to see her," Ferrante wrote the New York Daily News on Thursday.

"I love her voice but could not in good conscience ever pay to see her perform again."

Another fan, John Culver, who attended the concert on the night of the heckler, said the man had been bothering the singer all night — but slammed her anti-Bush skit.

"Don't bite the hand that buys your record, Barbra. We all know your politics. Shut up and sing!" Culver wrote to the Daily News.

Dan Johancsik wrote to the Orange County Register in California to say: "Subjecting loyal fans to one's own sour grapes politics is flat-out immature."

Columnist Liz Smith in the New York Post praised Streisand's show — but blasted the singer for making her concert so political.

"She apologized for losing her temper, and spoke of unity. But it is the very nature of her pointless parody that divides," wrote Smith.

Long time readers know I have said almost exactly the same thing about the Dixie Chicks. But once again, let's point out the obvious. In a day and age when the country is pretty evenly divided in political outlook, why would an entertainer risk potentially alienating 50% of her audience? In the long run this is self defeating. It used to be that stars kept their political views to themselves knowing that it was bad for business. Obviously, Streisand is narcissistic enough, and successful enough, that she doesn't care (her spokesperson says she has no intention of changing her show or her skit). Yet for up and coming musicians (or actors), they may be risking serious damage to their careers by trying to play pundit instead of just shutting up and singing. It is their choice to do so, of course, but it is their audience's choice to remain fans or not. Freedom of speech does not grant freedom from repercussions.

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5 Responses to Shut Up And Sing

  1. Dan says:

    Didn’t you start this blog at the beginning of 2006? Did you bring up the Dixie Chicks years after the fact, or did you write somewhere else first?

  2. Gaius says:

    I’ve been commenting on their antics this year, Dan.

  3. syn says:

    Having been formerly part of the NY theater scene, Barbra simply brought out onto the stage what was said in the dressing rooms for years.

    Barbra spoke about unity? Right.

  4. Nell says:

    How ironic to have an amazing musical gift, but to decide that your paying fans would rather hear the braying jackass sounds of a partisan extremist. Only to find out that now they don’t want to hear your singing either.

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