Friday, February 27, 2009

Hillbilly No More?

I knew it was going to happen. After the Children of the Mountains special a couple of weeks ago, I knew it was only a matter of time before the national media would discover Appalachia again. Now Newsweek is reporting on one of Ol' Joe's new initiatives, Hillbilly No More? West Virginia's Image Makeover. It's an interesting read, but what he doesn't get is that we can't change the stereotypes. Only they can do it. They, the outsiders who are defining us.

I'll have more after a bit, but for now I'll just leave you with a correction: Joe Manchin is a registered Democrat and always has been. I can understand Newsweek's confusion in thinking he's a Republican, as his policies are pretty much Republican, but he' actually a Democrat, at least on the ballot.


Lara said...

First, I LOL'd at the Republican thing, too! Probably a simple error on the writer's part, but I wonder if he was thinking, "Democrat my a--."

Second, did you read the last lines (the redneck quote from Uncle Joe). Way to change perception!

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

Hi Laurel, That's an interesting point about the [media] outsiders defining you all. Stereotypes are tough to fight.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Laurel, Why do you think that how people perceive you is a function of something outside yourself?
When WV changes, the perception that people have of WV will change. In my lifetime I've seen it happen to individuals and to states.
Georgia and NC used to be southern backwaters where everything northerners thought about the south was true. In the past four or five decades, both states have become economic and social powerhouses where northerners flock.
40 yrs ago Washington state was a place where lumber facks and other back woods pseudo Canadians lived. Now it thought of as one of the most progressive places in America. They changed.

As long as we're an economic backwater because of corporate and political corruption, elect morons like Joe The Monkey Boy Manchin (really, didn't we get enough embarrassment from his uncle A James?), the gold buckle of the bible belt along with all the narrow-minded, prejudicial, hate filled and simplistic thinking that goes along with it, the stereotypes will remain.
What are YOU doing to change WV?

TriState Saver said...

There were quite a few things about this whole farce that got me riled up. I watched all the videos and read the article numerous times.

I like the fact that all us appalchians are descendants of Davey Crockett and Loretta Lynn.

The main video has nothing to do with appalachian kids. It has to do with a families poor life choices.

They said in 2 of the videos that people are forced to put pop in their babies bottles. No they aren't! They make poor choices and spend their food stamps on pop, instead of milk and juice. That also brings up another point. They can't afford food? That's because they spend their $523 a month on expensive POP!! Seriously, I could feed an army on $523 a month.

They also said Mountain Dew was used as a sort of antidepressant. Really? Where does that scientific data come from? Sure all the kids drink it. It is the only option when it is all a parent buys and caffeine is addictive!

This whole story is just Bullshit! Everything they talked about and featured are life choices. People all over the United States live with poor choices. We just happen to have the abundance of them here. So, we get the attention and they pick the meth mouth to represent appalachia!

Buzzardbilly said...

I don't have the time to read the article at this late hour, but I'll be back for sure.

Just had to pipe in on King Joe: Smells like Democrat; tastes like Republican.

MountainLaurel said...

Kit, I think that by definition stereotypes (especially negative ones) are created by outsiders. That's all kinds of stereotypes, not just us hillbillies.

SH, I will answer your question but in a separate post. The thing is that all these stereotypes are dead wrong when they're said about me. I'm not like that, so why does the stereotype persist?

Tri-State Saver, Welcome! Glad to hear your voice. I'll agree that it is poor life choices and not geography or any other characteristic. I can point to folks who do similar things in WV, Pittsburgh, southern GA, and probably Alaska. So why does this stereotype persist of us, when there are folks like this all over?

Choices. And education. That's it. Can't afford milk for babies' bottles? then use water. It's cheap and much healthier than the pop.

BuzzardBilly, I'm really looking forward to hearing your take on this.

Buzzardbilly said...

It is done :)

Thanks for the heads up!

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Laurel, Stereotypes persist because of general impressions. That doesn't make them right, it just is.
I'm not an ignorant, backwoods, toothless hillbilly either. . . well, I'm not toothless.
When we begin giving the general impression that we are a suave, sophisticated, educated bastion of enlightenment, that's the stereotype that will emerge.
Till then we can't blame everyone else for our problems. How can we fix our problems if it's everyone else's fault?!

Anonymous said...

I studied Appalachian Studies some years ago at Virginia Tech. The stereotypes of outsider local color writers still plague the region. The poverty of Appalachia is rediscovered every decade or so by outsiders. The stereotypes are also perpetuated by some from Appalachia.

As far as the pop in baby bottles... my opinion is that if they fed their infants the way the good Lord intended they would not even be using bottles so they would not have to worry about what they could afford to put in the baby bottles. And why did Joe veto once again a bill in 2007 that would have protected mothers breastfeeding in public?

Anyway... interesting web site.

MountainLaurel said...

SH, I'd have to say that the image problem is one of the most serious problems that we face. I think that's got to be one prong of our reform. Only one. We'll have to address education, infrastructure, etc. as part of the overall solution and master plan.

Anonymous, Welcome! Glad to see you. It does seem to come about every 10 years or so, doesn't it? That's what I thought when I saw the Diane Sawyer special: "oh, they've discovered the Appalachian problem again." I'll have to agree about the baby bottles. Breast feeding is so much cheaper and better than the alternatives. But I also see pop in sippy cups of weaned children. So I think education has a role as well.