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redneck renaissance

January 17, 2014

Last night I called my friend Dora, widow of Jim, who died last June.  We commiserate at times about our recent family losses, and I was wondering how her holidays had unfolded.  Somehow our conversation meandered into Duck Dynasty territory.  Dora, who lives in Louisiana, said that the Robertson clan lives just a few miles from her.  Family patriarch Phil, wife Miss Kay and their sons have built their duck call business into a huge success.  Their A&E series about it is even huger.

Phil, a fundamentalist Christian who has a Masters of Arts in Education, caused quite the kerfuffle last month by making controversial remarks about race and homosexuality.  His expressed preference for a vagina rather than a man’s anus ignited a maelstrom which prompted A&E to suspend him from the show briefly.  It also engendered national discourse about religion and freedom of speech.

Phil is also on record for recommending that we chaps marry women aged 15 or 16.  He, indeed, did just that with Miss Kay in 1966.  I may take issue with his other comments, but I got no truck with that one.  I also took a teenaged bride in Louisiana in ’66.

Downstate, the History Channel’s series Swamp People follows Cajuns hunting alligators in the Atchafalaya River Basin.  In central Georgia, the TLC show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo chronicles the exploits of a child who competes in beauty pageants.  The Southern drawls in the series are so thick that TLC feels compelled to run subtitles.

HBB’s mother Mama June prepares her for the pageants by supplying her with “GoGo Juice”, a blend of Red Bull and Mountain Dew.  Others in HBB’s family include sisters Pumpkin, Chubbs and Chickadee, stepfather Sugar Bear and gay uncle Poodle.  I’m not making these names up.

The magazine Out has praised the show for HBB’s acceptance of her uncle.  “Ain’t nothing wrong with bein’ a little gay,” says she.  Mother Earth Network lauds Mama June for her “keen business sense” which– according to Wikipedia — she demonstrates by feeding her family on $80 a week by “clipping copious coupons, playing bingo, exploiting roadkill and acquiring child-support checks from each of her four children’s fathers”.  If TLC pays the clan so little that Mama June only has $80 a week to feed six people, I question her financial acumen.

I watched six minutes of the show to see why so many people watch this highly-rated show.  I had to stop when my jaw started unhinging from my skull.  Mama June farted several times and called our attention to it.  She ended a conversation with “I have to go take a shit.”  The family drove through a safari park and one of the girls French-kissed a giraffe.  Even with that limited exposure, I think I figured out what the appeal is.

The series is the electronic equivalent of the safari park.  Viewers can safely gawk at the inhabitants, then go away feeling much better about their own lives and not having to clean up after them.

So do I really think that these shows and similar ones will really cause a redneck renaissance?  Do I think these folks will produce their own Galileo, Michelangelo or Giovanni Pico dell Mirandola?  No.  I just thought it was a catchy title.  Sure, Phil Robertson might give John Calvin a run for his money, but I wouldn’t overworry this.  I think you can go back to more substantial concerns like the Zombie Apocalypse.

If, however, you start craving GoGo Juice, immediately contact the CDC and PBS.

  1. January 17, 2014 3:13 pm

    I am appalled at these shows that they call entertainment and people wonder where in the world the term “White Trash” comes from. This my friend is “White Trash” in full color! The language and the actions speak volumes.
    There is a difference between being a redneck and being just trashy. I cannot stand to watch these types of shows. It seems that lack of proper manners is funny to these people and to me it is disgusting… I haven’t seen a Reality show yet that I would watch again. So sad that people are glued in front of the tv to watch this kind of thing.
    I hope that your well Allen, give my best to Jude and I am sorry, I did not mean to rant on your post. But it felt good lol.

  2. January 20, 2014 10:05 am

    I’d rather you rant here than in the streets. You and I might be less tolerant of this behaviour because we grew up with it. I could see how it might amuse an Angeleno or Manhattanite.

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