David launched into a major rant a couple of days ago, and if you knew my patient husband, you would know how unexpected that was. A friend had innocently asked him if he watched Duck Dynasty, and he barked, “No! And I am getting sick and tired of having the South represented to the rest of the nation as a bunch of rednecks and idiots so that they can laugh at us!” She pointed out that Lizard Lick Towing was a show about people right here, near Wendell (pronounced WenDELL, or even WenDAYull) and that they were probably millionaires by now. He was not swayed. Think about it: David is a guy from a small town in South Carolina, and he sounds like it. Although he graduated from college with honors, was in the National Honor Society, the Who’s Who in American High School students, and on and on, every time he opens his mouth, he is judged. Why do Southerners do this to themselves?
I guess it started with Hee-Haw and The Dukes of Hazard. Southerners never saw the inside of a school, hung out in cornfields, and the girls’ wardrobes consisted of nothing but super-short denim bottoms and gingham halter tops. Around Dukes of Hazard time, David worked for a company with a home office in Chicago, and he said once, “I know they think that we’re all barefoot on dirt floors and don’t even know how to use our computers.” Years later, we all laughed at The Blue Collar Comedy Hour, but I worried that the rest of the country really believed that everyone below the Mason-Dixon was a redneck. Yes, there are uneducated people here, but do we think everyone in New Jersey is a Jersey Shore cast member? Do we think that all African-Americans are gangsta rap artists? If you said yes to either of those questions, you need more help than I can give you.
The latest reality show line-up is beyond appalling, though. Michael roars, “Swamp People is on the History Channel! How is Swamp People history?” He mourns that his favorite channel has sold out to the alligator wrestling demographic. Even worse, Duck Dynasty is on A&E, which is “Arts and Entertainment.” This used to be a high-end channel, but I think the princess has some hayseeds in her hair. Granted, it is about a family that is now rich due to the sale of their duck calls, but take a look. We’re not talking Downton Abbey here.
Taking a quick poll of our rural North Carolina neighborhood’s vocations, I can name: nurse, food service worker, retired police officer, engineer, nurse again, plumber, retired military, librarian (me!), realtor (David), and wedding planner. I haven’t seen any wedding planners in these reality shows. I suppose Daisy Duke would be happy to end up with the Duck Call King. I know he’d be happy.
A colleague and I were laughing the other day about the Designing Women episode in which Julia Sugarbaker is berating an editor in New York about his view of the South. She drawls, “We’re from Atlanta: the one that burned? We’ve rebuilt.” Apparently, we’re burning again. It’s homeowner arson this time, and we can’t even collect the insurance.
I was heartened to read yesterday that Senator Manchin of West Virginia has formally asked MTV to cancel Buckwild, which he considers raunchy and a poor representation of West Virginians. It just goes to show how bigoted I am when I read the article and thought, “Huh! Well, that’s a revelation.” We need more voices joining his, though, and there are more states to defend! I’ve lived in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Kentucky, and I’ll step up to the plate for any and all of them. C’mon, y’all! Let’s be proud and get loud.