Why exactly was a UK-based publication asking a Canadian pop country star with permanent citizenship in Switzerland about the American President? It was in hopes she would be naive enough to answer in a way that would result in a scandalous uproar, and that’s exactly what has happened.
Simon Hattenstone writing for The Guardian published an in-depth, quality, and quite candid interview with Shania on Sunday (4-23), where she bared her soul about being crushed when her personal assistant and best friend ran off with her husband and producer Mutt Lange, and about being sexually abused as a child by her stepfather. There’s a lot of ‘F’ words, and even a few ‘C’ words peppered throughout the interview, and it shows the pop star in a plain-spoken light we rarely see.
There was plenty to take away from the Shania interview as insight into her 15-year disappearance in music, and her perseverance through personal struggle. But that’s not what grabbed everyone’s attention and had the entertainment press scrambling to compose click bait headlines and roil the internet, it was her passing comments at the end of the interview about Donald Trump that have many calling for Shania’s eradication from entertainment.
“I would have voted for him because, even though he was offensive, he seemed honest,” Shania said about Trump. “Do you want straight or polite? Not that you shouldn’t be able to have both. If I were voting, I just don’t want bullshit. I would have voted for a feeling that it was transparent. And politics has a reputation of not being that, right?”
And now for being honest and transparent herself, Shania has been forced to publicly apologize and is the centerpiece of the internet’s ire at the moment. And for some, apology or no, it’s time for Shania’s entire career and public life to be ended. This is the same irrational torch and pitchfork flash mob mentality we saw bring down The Dixie Chicks, only coming from the opposite end of the political spectrum. And once again it’s words that are overriding the actions of the individuals involved.
It’s the LGBTQ community that is mostly looking to decapitate Shania, even though for years she has been supportive of the gay community, has been seen as a “gay icon” for her flashy stage persona, and she was even a guest judge recently on RuPaul’s Drag Race competition. Now a lifetime of not just tolerance, but support for the gay community is being overlooked because Twitter and the internet needs its cause célèbre of the day, and someone to demonize in a political proxy war since Trump still hasn’t been ousted from office.
It was completely unfair to The Dixie Chicks, and it’s completely unfair to Shania to let irrational political vitriol cloud judgement about the personal character of an entertainer. If you were against the unfair smearing of The Dixie Chicks, it is a double standard to join the fracas now calling for Shania Twain’s head. The political makeup of any artist should be irrelevant to their career unless it’s a subject they personally choose to broach. Attacking and demonizing someone for their political stances is an element of McCarthyism.
Sure, if it comes out that an artist abuses women, or is part of some certified neo-Nazi hate group, then they deserve whatever public rebuke and punishment is coming to them. But roughly half of the United States approves of Donald Trump at the moment, for better or worse. Does that mean that half of the country should be banned from holding professional jobs, working with children, or be rendered ineligible to entertain us? Are some of those Trump supporters homophobic racists? Of course they are. But some of them are not. Shania’s comments illustrate this when taking into account her support and interaction with the LGBTQ community.
In fact it’s Shania’s closeness with the gay community that is making her such a target. If Jason Aldean says something similar about Trump, it is a footnote. The irony is thick that on the same day Shania is facing a major test of her public image, Kanye West, who is actually an American, didn’t just say he respected Trump’s honesty, he said, “I do love Donald Trump” with no qualifiers. In this instance, it’s just being cast off as Kanye being Kanye.
Shania Twain let her guard down in what appeared to be a very personal and unburdening interview. She didn’t sway the interview towards talk of politics, it was swayed there by the interviewer, which has been a common practice in the UK. It was the UK press that first started the uproar over Natalie Maines’ comments about George W. Bush in 2003. It was another UK press outlet, The Independent, that ambushed Carrie Underwood about the gay marriage issue in 2012.
Though interviewer Simon Hattenstone and The Guardian conducted a quality interview with Shania Twain, they took advantage of her honesty, and created excellent example of why music and politics rarely mix well, and artists should only enter the political fray when they choose to, and have weighed the potential ramifications.
If Shania Twain’s professional career is ended, it should be because time has passed her music by, not because she got blindsided in an interview about a subject she has no business discussing in a public manner unless it’s of her choosing. Burning her records in the streets and boycotting her music as numerous fans and media outlets have suggested would be yet another black eye on the music industry where irrational political hatred won out over a level-headed understanding that we all have different political views, and it’s our actions that should speak louder than our words.