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in the hoosegow

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

they will come

This soggy Memorial Day weekend provided an answer to the question, "If you have it, will they come?" Saturday dawned cloudy and threatening and there was a good hour or two of rain in the late morning/early afternoon. I ignored it, continued to ready the house and cook for our bbq at 3 and told anyone who called to come on over. And they did. We spent most of the afternoon and evening under the cover of the porch roof, barbecuing, drinking, smack-talking and playing Apples to Apples. The doggies were in splashy dog heaven, even getting a dropped bratwurst to split amongst themselves.

Oddly, the ongoing discussion topic of the day was the difference between rednecks, white trash, and hillbillies. The house dictionary was consulted but decided to be out of date. Since I don't have internet access, a quick check of the OED was considered but discarded.

3 Comments:

At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Trent said...

Hey, what do a bunch of Texans know from hillbillies or white trash anyway?

But seriously: All three terms have to do with variations on working-class identity. You can find a great example of "white trash" would be the Agee / Evans book _Let Us Now Praise Famous Men," which is about the lives and limited horizons of a bunch of sharecropper families in rural Alabama. They lack education, they're dirt poor even though they work brutally hard, they don't own any property, and are basically hosed. "Hillbillies" tend to be similarly situated in terms of income, though they might own their own land. The emphasis there is on geography: hillbillies are people who live "up in the hills" and act, talk, and dress funny. (Funny strange, that is.) For both "hillbillies" and "white trash," there's an implied opposition with various flavors of landed aristocracy and / or Southern middle-class gentility. As such, both terms suggest a kind of cultural and moral deviance. Hillbillies and white trash all drink too much, sleep with their cousins, have babies out of wedlock, and spend time in jail. It's worth noting, though, that whereas calling somebody a "hillbilly" is only a mild insult at worse, "white trash" is strongly pejorative. Calling somebody "white trash" is a convenient way to excuse sticking them on the edge of your property, paying them shit for their work, and then kicking them out if it's a bad year for the crops. It's all their fault, they're no good anyway.

"Rednecks" is, if I'm not mistaken, a term that originated in TX / OK used in reference to oilfield workers and that came to refer more broadly to a kind of tough, macho rural working-class culture. Nowadays it still has some of those connotations, but it has more to do with lifestyle choices: what kind of car do you drive, which sports do you follow, what kind of music do you listen to, etc.

FWIW, I have pretty impeccable hillbilly roots, being born out of wedlock and a member of the first generation never to eat possum.

 
At 9:47 AM, Anonymous Trent said...

I can't believe all the typos and grammatical fuckups in that post. Aaargh!

 
At 11:21 AM, Blogger ranger said...

That's mostly what we decided, although I know that in Georgia, redneck can be a codeword for "whites only", especially when used in a restaurant or bar name. Thanks for the edimification, Sir Erudite Hillbilly.

 

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