Sunday, February 14, 2010

Playing the so-called "redneck" card (and why I plan to keep on doing it)

The so-called "redneck card"

Hello once again, my dear readers and cherished friends:

On the last episode of Mail Order Zombie, a listener claimed to be offended by my use of the term "redneck" and accused me of "spreading propaganda" each week on the show.

Let me answer the second charge first. A propagandist? Moi? Don't make me laugh! I'm giving a three-minute editorial at the end of a podcast each week. That's hardly propaganda. On the other hand, I'd say that decades upon decades of so-called "zombie" movies, comics, novels, and video games are much more suited to being called propaganda, insomuch as they've been used to poison people's minds with incorrect information about the living impaired. This charge is baseless. I plead not guilty and fully expect an acquittal.

But now, let's deal with a thornier issue: my repeated use of the word "redneck" to describe the people who routinely hunt the living impaired for sport. Before we rush to judgment, let's examine this term and see what it really means. First, it should be obvious that "redneck" does not necessarily refer to Southerners. I am originally from Michigan, and I can tell you that my home state is crawling with rednecks. Hell, my own family tree is crawling with rednecks! (More about them later.)

George Romero's "dead" films frequently feature those I would call "rednecks," and they're set in Pennsylvania, for pete's sake! Let's take a look at some of these folks in action:

In short, rednecks are everywhere! (NOTE: The comedian and actor David Cross, a Georgia native, has a good bit about this on his album, Shut Up, You Fucking Baby!)

So if I don't use "rednecks" to mean Southerners, do I use it to mean lower-income, poorly-educated white people? Absolutely not. Most of the "rednecks" I know are not poor! Many of them certainly have more money and socioeconomic clout than I do, that's for damned sure! Look at all the products which are directly marketed to rednecks! If you haven't been to a Wal-Mart lately, just go in and look around to see what I'm talking about. The existence of all this crap leads me to one conclusion: rednecks have money! Guns cost money. Ugly hats cost money. Terrible comedy albums cost money. You think they're giving lawn ornaments away? No, sir! I know I can't afford that junk, even if I wanted it.

If rednecks aren't defined by money or by location, then who are they? To me, "redneck" is a mentality. It's a state of mind, a chosen lifestyle. To be a redneck is to embrace everything that is tacky and puerile and to turn a blind eye to knowledge, truth, beauty, and progress. I know it well because I've been running from it all my life: figuratively during my "living" years and now often literally as an LI. You see, as I said earlier, my family is full of rednecks. To attend a Kotke Family Reunion is to see a Larry the Cable Guy routine come to life. But early in my life, I made a vow to myself that I was not going to live like that. No, I was not going to have the police break up a domestic disturbance on my front lawn. No, I was not going to lose a foot to diabetes. (I ended up losing an arm, but that couldn't be helped.) No, I was not going to limit my reading to "Bazooka Joe" comics. In short: NO, I WAS NOT GOING TO BE A REDNECK!

So that's why I use the term and will continue to use it. Thank you for reading this rant.