She may be from the backwoods of Tennessee, but Dolly Parton has the ability to change. Over the course of her career, the 25-time Billboard country-music chart topper has come to embrace her status as a gay icon:“I have a huge gay and lesbian following and I’m proud of ’em, I love ’em and I think everybody should be themselves and be allowed to be themselves,” she told PrideSource in 2016. And now, as Confederate monuments and flags are being taken down around the country, Parton is removing the “Dixie” from her dinner show “Dixie Stampede” in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and Branson, Missouri. (You know, Las Vegas as run by Ned Flanders?)
The show, now called “Dolly Parton’s Stampede,” was the subject of a critical Slate article earlier this year, which called it “a lily-white kitsch extravaganza that play-acts the Civil War but never once mentions slavery.” And while Parton’s statement on the name change doesn’t mention the Slate article specifically, it does cite “changing attitudes” and “removing confusion” as the show expands into bigger, less backwards markets.“Our shows currently are identified by where they are located,” Parton says, via WCBV. “We also recognize that attitudes change and feel that by streamlining the names of our shows, it will remove any confusion or concerns about our shows and will help our efforts to expand into new cities.” Dollywood media director Pete Owens tells Knox News the show is being “updated” for the 2018 season, as it is every year, although he wouldn’t get into specifics.
But even this mild change to a show that, as of 2015, had Confederate soldiers riding out to a cheerful rendition of minstrel-show staple “Dixie” is too much for some. Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett tells Knox News, “Well, like everybody else, I love Dolly, and I love all that she’s done for our community, which is her community, and I’m disappointed that they’re yielding to political correctness.” That same theme—that Parton was somehow betraying her Southern heritage by “yielding” to “politically correct” forces (we’re picturing shadow people in pantsuits and sensible shoes)—runs through Twitter criticism of the move, albeit with less, let’s say, polite language.