Conor Knighton on TV's obsession with rednecks
(CBS News) A certain TV trend is riling our contributor Conor Knighton:
Comedian Jeff Foxworthy had that famous routine about how to tell if you're a "redneck."
"If you've ever taken a beer to a job interview, you might be a redneck. If you can burp and say your name at the same time ..."
Well, these days, there's an easier way to tell:
If a cable television network is profiting by showing how backwards you and your family are, you might be a redneck.
For some reason, cable channels have become obsessed with "rednecks" - typically, lower-middle-class white Southerners.
The last few years have brought us "Redneck Rehab," "My Big Redneck Wedding," "Rocket City Rednecks," "Hillbilly Handfishin'," "Swamp People," "Redneck Island," "Duck Dynasty," "Bayou Billionaires," "Moonshiners," "Lady Hoggers" ... the list goes on and on.
This summer's breakout hit, "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," featured a family in rural Georgia. TLC filmed them bobbing for pigs feet at the Redneck Games and passing gas on camera. The family members, who speaks English, are subtitled. And while they're always the butt of the joke, they seem to embrace the attention, even coining catch phrases ("You better REDNECK-ognize!").
It's hard not to see these shows as trafficking in a bit of "redneck-sploitation."
As someone who grew up south of the Mason Dixon line, it all makes me a little uncomfortable.
On one hand, I do know people like the stars of "Hillbilly Handfishin'," and I do think it's interesting to see them represented on TV.
But most of the people I know aren't ANYTHING like that, and I worry that the recent explosion of these types of shows perpetuates outdated stereotypes.
And I'm not the only one.
My home state of West Virginia denied a tax credit to MTV's upcoming series "Buck Wild," fearing that the show would portray West Virginians in a stereotypical, "derogatory manner."
I understand their concern. Based on cable's other offerings, they may have "redneck-ognized" a trend.
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