There's been a plethora of stupid that's come to light tonight. There's Big Hollywood's reaction to Earth Hour--there was Earth Hour, for that matter--there was Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza's report on her visit to Guantanamo Bay--I'm not kidding on that one--and then there's this:
So you're in a bar--and I'm guessing that's the primary reason this happened--a bobcat wanders in, and as cats are wont to do, hides under a table, and you think it's a smart idea to try to get close enough to take a picture.
But you now what I'm glad about? None of these people were from the south, at least at first glance. And my southernness is something I've gotten a little defensive about of late. I have an accent, and I say y'all, and I can, if necessary, run a trotline, though I'd rather avoid it if I can. I even know the words to a Hank Williams Jr. song or two--and not the Monday Night Football one. I like to joke that I'm the first generation out of my family to be out of the trailer park, but that's not really fair, as my parents were the first into the trailer park. My grandparents on my father's side were itinerant workers, and my sister and I were of the first generation to get bachelor's degrees. I might be the only one on that side of the family to go to grad school. I'm a redneck, in short, though I've taken steps to move beyond the caricature.
And it's the caricature that's getting more than a little old. Jeff Foxworthy--may he forever rot in hell for perpetuating the stereotype--did a standup bit years ago where he actually challenged the stereotype. And when I say years ago, I mean at least twenty, back before anyone knew who he was. When YouTube stops shitting its pants I'll try to see if there's some video of it. His piece was on horror movies, and if you'll grant that I've had a couple and haven't seen this in decades, I'll try to recreate it a bit for you.
He said that people with southern accents never get to be the stars of a movie--they're always the guys at the boat dock, winding the motor and saying "y'all gonna be out all day?" And that it's even worse in horror movies, because certain people never live to see the end of a horror movie. Ugly women never make it to the end. Black people never make it to the end. People with southern accents never make it to the end. And if you're an ugly black woman with a southern accent, you're dead before the opening credits are finished rolling.
Now I'm not even going to begin to suggest that what people with southern accents have to deal with in terms of oppression--especially southern men--comes anywhere near what people in other groups have to deal with. That would be ridiculous, especially since southern men are pretty damn good at dishing out the oppression, to be quite frank about it.
But there is a pretty heavy level of dismissal that comes along with sounding like you're southern--or rural, if you want to get more specific. It worried me so much when I was heading to grad school, that I spent the better part of a year trying to tone down my accent, and get this--I was going to the University of Arkansas. How ridiculous is that? I was afraid I would sound too hickish for a school in Fayetteville, Arkansas, which is in the Ozark mountains, and which sports a Razorback Hog as a mascot. The damn football cheer is the calling of the hogs, and includes the phrase "Pig, Soooie!" One of the more popular things to wear at a football game is a red plastic hog nose, for crying out loud.
I realize I have not done much for my argument that southerners are deserving of greater respect than they currently receive.
That said, a rural accent should not be a marker for a lack of intelligence, but too often it is. A drawl says "you've probably got incest in your background" or "you probably eat mayonnaise sandwiches" or "you've had a Camaro on blocks in your front yard at some point." And that's a hard onus to overcome, especially when you've got people like Jeff Effing Foxworthy making millions of dollars selling his own people out.
So I take my pleasure when I can, and that means that when I see stupid coming out of other parts of the country, I revel in it, because even though I know that on any given day, one of my fellow southerners is likely to call the paramedics because he got his dick caught in a belt sander, at least stupidity isn't solely a southern family tradition.