Homo Redneckus: On Being Not Qwhite in America

Homo Redneckus: On Being Not Qwhite in America

Homo Redneckus: On Being Not Qwhite in America

Homo Redneckus: On Being Not Qwhite in America

Excerpt

In 1994, filmmaker John Waters wrote, “in six months, no one will say white trash…it is the last racist thing you can say and get away with it” (Wray 3). Waters’ prophecy has still not come to pass; instead, race specific and class specific terms like redneck, white trash, hillbilly, peckerwood, and cracker are arguably more often used in contemporary discourse than they were in 1994. Co-opted and commodified representations of rednecks and white trash proliferate on cable television. Shows like “The Naked Trucker and T-Bone Show” and “Blue Collar TV” could be described as nothing more than “working class Samboism.” These television shows help the hegemony to Other the Southern poor white working classes in America. And if the rhetoric of humor isn’t enough to drive the point home about us rednecks, the cable networks show dramatic films like Deliverance that portray us Southern country folk as monstrous grotesques that should be feared and not just laughed at.

This visual rhetoric and the speech acts that accompany it help to reinforce the hegemony’s idea of the merits of capitalism and the myth that if citizens work hard every day, then they can achieve the American Dream. In other words, we don’t HAVE to be indolent, lazy, xenophobic redneck crackers, we CHOOSE to be. Therefore, we don’t deserve to feed at the trough of the new economy with all of Robert Reich’s “knowledge workers.” We deserve our lot in life because we are rednecks and there is no room in the global economy for us backward hillbilly crackers. We are just anachronisms that refuse to adapt to globalization and therefore, deserve to be ground into the economic dirt because of our conscious aversion to economic progress. Each time a textile mill closes in the . . .

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