Point

Point/Counterpointcelebritiesnews media Apr 7, 1999

A Well-Informed Populace Is Vital To The Operation Of A Democracy

By Noam Chomsky

If America is to have any hope of one day becoming a true democracy, its populace must be better informed. And if this is to happen, the media must do their part by providing citizens with a more balanced, carefully considered view of the issues.

It is a misguided notion that the populace is too busy watching football and soap operas to care about matters of true import, or that the apparent complacency of the citizenry stems from simple apathy. Many Americans read newspapers. And most of these readers are interested in the front page, as well as the sports page. But a complex web of corporate interests, along with a trend toward fewer companies owning more communications holdings, contributes to a narrowing of views expressed in the papers of record. If GE owns NBC, and GE stands to make a huge profit from the sale of war machines, can we count on unbiased coverage of a U.S. war from NBC? Of course not. But it is just such unbiased coverage that we desperately need if we as citizens are to enjoy a true democracy.

Those who trumpet the supremacy of democracy forget that it is merely one of many systems that govern the decisions affecting our lives. Capitalism, our economic system, exerts an equally profound influence, perhaps greater. What stricter, more hierarchical system exists than the modern corporation? No medieval fiefdom of serfs and lords could match the modern corporation in its rigorous control of the populace. And though the people sometimes stay quiet, the corporations never do. They hire lobbyists, fresh from government service, to find the ears of policymakers.

To counter the overbearing influence of corporations, the populace must engage in a vigilant fight with itself to remain educated and vocal. But they cannot do it alone: The media bear a heavy responsibility to make the interests of the people—not parent companies such as GE—their priority when making decisions regarding coverage.

An unenlightened democracy, ignored by an ill-informed populace grazing blindly in corporate pastures, is a democracy in name only.

Counterpoint

Dixie Chicks Fever Sweeps America!

By Jeff Logan, <i>USA Today</i>

Move over, Shania, country's got a new queen.

Make that three.

Their names are Emily Erwin, Natalie Maines and Martie Seidel, but to millions of rabidly devoted fans across America, they're the blonde and bodacious trio known as the Dixie Chicks. Tearing it in up in three-part harmony with their own special, no-holds-barred brand of country, the sexy Chicks just might be Nashville's answer to The Spice Girls. But unlike the British bod squad, the Dixie Chicks are definitely still flying high.

What? You say you haven't caught Dixie Chicks fever yet? Well, you're in rapidly dwindling company. Because with seven million copies of their debut album Wide Open Spaces sold to date, the Chicks are hotter than Natalie's granddaddy's famous barbecued ribs. What's more, the Chicks' first three singles off Spaces all quickly soared into the country Top 10, earning them the distinction of best-selling country group of 1998.

Not bad for a group that played its first show on a Dallas street corner for spare change.

Even music lovers who've never followed the country scene are lining up to catch the sultry Texas trio in concert. Not your average Southern set, this sass-spiked, tradition-busting threesome has tossed aside the usual country rhinestones and is wowing crowds across America with a sleek and sophisticated style that's all glitz—and all Chicks.

But lest you think the Chicks are just a bunch of pretty faces, rest assured: These gals sound every bit as good as they look. The strong vocal stylings of Maines, front and center on such platinum chart-toppers as "I Can Love You Better" and "There's Your Trouble" are electrifying when paired with the spirited performances of Erwin and Seidel on fiddle, guitar, mandolin, dobro—even banjo. Longtime D.C. fans and new converts alike can't help but be swept away by the group's unique blend of country, honky-tonk, blues and folk.

It's been nearly 10 years since its debut on that street corner in Dallas, but America's newest country sensation is still going strong, consistently delivering hits packed with sweetness and attitude. And with two CMA Awards—Group Of The Year and the Horizon Award for best new country talent—already under their collective belt, one thing's for sure: The Dixie Chicks won't be playing for spare change again anytime soon.