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The Chicks: Some of the First Celebrities Subjected to Cancel Culture

Natalie Maines, the lead singer of The Chicks, stepped onstage in Toronto hours after Roe v. Wade was overturned, and she cracked a joke: “Back in the dressing room I was watching a clip of Phoebe Bridgers at Glastonbury and she said, ‘Fuck the Supreme Court.’” Maines feigned shock that Bridgers would say such a thing. “I was like, 'You can’t say that! Especially on foreign soil, what is she thinking? She’s gonna get canceled!'” She and her bandmates laughed, and the audience roared along with them.

Everyone in the crowd was well aware of the context. In 2003, The Chicks (known as The Dixie Chicks at this time) were performing in the UK at the outset of the Iraq war when Maines told the audience they were ashamed to be from the same state as then-President George W. Bush. The statement that would forever alter the band’s trajectory.

Their largely conservative fanbase was furious, and as a result, The Chicks were, for all intents and purposes, thrown out of the Nashville music scene. They were blacklisted from country radio. People held album-burning rallies. Country singer Toby Keith performed in front of an altered photo that showed Maines hugging Saddam Hussein; they also received death threats. They went on hiatus and became one of the first artists to get canceled, to go away for a while, as a result of the intense, nationwide backlash. The court of public opinion forced them into exile, and they weren’t allowed to return until nearly two decades later.

In 2020, they emerged from their i