Day after cotton-pickin' day, we are invited to hate white trash. Our media machines and their huddled suckling masses show scant pity for the redneck. Our magazines and sitcoms and blockbuster films are crammed with slams of hicks and hayseeds and hillbillies and crackers and trailer scum. Through relentless exposure to images of lowlife undesirability, we are led to sniff disdainfully at the sour stench of retrograde Eurosweat. Gradually, we come to believe that working-class whites are two-dimensional cartoons-rifle-totin', booger-eatin', beer-bellied swineflesh. Skeeter-bitten, ball-tuggin', homo-hatin', pig-fuckin', daughter-gropin' slugs. We learn to laugh at-and fear-their zit-scarred visages and stupid filmy eyeballs. We chuckle at the crank-shooters and fart-huffers. The chip-tossers and snake-handlers. The bouffanted hausfraus and ducktailed loggers. The hairy-assed werewolves who occupy trailer parks out near Superfund cleanup sites. The obese, curler-wearing women standing unashamed in orange bikinis, their sloping boobs slung over Cesarean scars. Their unwashed, uncomprehending kids with cavity-peppered chartreuse teeth. The scaly, pale-grey skin of bucktoothed men who inhale turpentine and punch the fuck out of anyone smarter than them. Skull face after skull face of dull-brained peasantry. Rolling landfills of curdled whiteness. Cat piss and dirty diapers. Crusty dishes in the sink. Yellowy armpit stains on white T-shirts. Millions of smelly white assholes stinking up the nation.



To some, claiming that our popular imagery is hostile to rednecks might seem as preposterous as saying that the danged Nazis ain't getting a fair shake, either. There exists, I dare say, a myth of redneck power in this country. As my bloodshot, squinty, suspicious eyes see it, one of the primary problems is semantic: People confuse "good ol' boys" with the "old boys' network." I've often heard the terms used interchangeably, or one term used where the other would have been appropriate. This blunder occurs with such frequency that the phrases are thought to be synonymous.

This is a mistake of megaton-sized proportions. In confusing the good ol' boys with the old boys' network, the redneck beer belly gets mistaken for the capitalist fat cat. As defined for my purposes, the good ol' boys and the old boys' network are at loggerheads. The good ol' boys are rock quarrymen; the old boys' network are Rockefellers. The old boys' network represents the entrenched elites whose white talons have been wrapped around a disproportionate percentage of wealth and power for thousands of years. The good ol' boys are the guys in aluminum trailers and rusted-out trucks who keep wondering when they'll finally get a chance to join the old boys' network.


From Chapter 3: A QUICK HISTORY OF THE WHITE AMERICAN UNDERCLASS (And an Even Quicker History of the Goads)

Some have estimated that as many as half of all white bound servants, throughout the two-hundred-plus years the system was legal in America, never survived their term of indenture. If you have any residual doubts that this was a merciless system which chewed up humans and spat out cadavers, consider that these dizzying mortality rates occurred among a population comprised mostly of teenagers whose typical term may have been seven years.

Yeah, Mister Charley, an indentured servant's life was just a long, gluttonous, pig-feast on that triple-scoop smorgasbord of lily-white skin privilege and sterling cultural entitlement. I wonder what a white slave of two or three hundred years ago, after being whipped, shackled, beaten, raped, starved, infected, or impregnated, would have thought of the currently fashionable Soho/boho doctrine of white skin privilege. They'd probably want to kill every writer in New York.


America's hate affair with white trash is, ultimately, self-hatred. Guilt projection. A convenient way for America to demonize itself, or, rather, to exorcise the demon and place it somewhere outside of itself. In giving fangs to rednecks, they've defanged all the white-barbarian tendencies they fear within themselves.

Pointing an accusatory finger at the "Deliverance people" has become an easy way to express one's urbanity. But it also may be a way of expressing one's insecurities. Non-Southerners (and self-hating Southerners) have often alleged that the American South has a "rape complex," involving fears of a violent sexual uprising of hostile buck nigras, their ebony swords hoisted to slay lacy-white Southern belles. Oh, sure. Whatever suits your fantasies, pro or con. I think it's just as easy to argue that America, particularly in non-Southern areas, has a Deliverance complex. Urban America may subconsciously fear a mass invasion of stubble-chinned rural degenerates eager to settle the score.

Most of us have a redneck in the woodpile somewhere. One day the crackers may come home to roost. Howdy, Amurrika. Yoo sher dew have a purty mouth.


From Chapter 5: WORKIN' HARD

How will the country change when the millions who've always teetered just above the poverty line start free-falling into the pit? Utter hopelessness has a way of smacking people out of their stupor. If most of white America becomes white trash, redneck rage might suddenly not seem so uncool to them. When all these peacenikky, tie-dyed, dreadlocked, baggy-panted, snot-bearded, eyebrow-pierced, community college graduates realize they'll never do much better than $5.50-$7.50/hr. part-time without benefits, their equation of working-class anger with bigoted backwardness will evaporate. Their Fabergé-egg ideas of cultural etiquette won't appear nearly as pressing as immediate material needs.


From Chapter 6: PLAYIN' HARD

Working-class amusement is always too much. It operates from an Overdose Aesthetic. It's nominally leisure, but it often seems more like an endurance test. You don't make love, you fuck your brains out. You don't laugh, you piss yourself laughing. You don't listen to music, you pump up the volume until your ears bleed. You don't just drink, you drink yourself blind. You don't want to get high. You want to get FUCKED UP. BLASTED. OBLITERATED. You don't punch someone, you beat the shit out of him, kick the snot out of him, and thrash him until he pisses blood. If it can't kill or permanently maim you, it's not a sport. If nothing gets blowed up real good, it isn't a movie. And you don't want to see just one murder, you want mass murder, preferably thermonuclear annihilation....

White-trash fun is desperate fun. Painful fun. Risky, bleeding, murderous, frightening fun. It's fun which in any other context wouldn't seem like fun. It owes something to Russian roulette, autoerotic asphyxiation, hot-rod "chickie" races, and those suicidal Argentinian kids who "surf" atop moving subway trains in Buenos Aires. But while the nihilism may be what catches your eye, there's also an upside. Flapping around in the mud and the blood and the beer can be a cleansing experience. And unless you've personally known the joy of smashing everything in a room to pieces, judge ye not another man's moccasins.


From Chapter 7: PRAYIN' HARD

Since I don't know a thing, I figure I'm as qualified as anyone else to talk about religion. I have no inkling why I'm here on this dirtball planet, and I'm even less sure about you. I'd call myself an agnostic, but that sounds as if I'm nasally congested. I'm a simple boy. My life has never been French-kissed with supernatural phenomena. Never had a personal chat with God. Can't say I've had a tumor disappear through the power of prayer. Haven't seen any suspicious flying objects. No Sasquatches rooting around in my garbage can. I've sometimes been relaxed enough to feel what you might call "one with the universe," but that's as profound as it gets. Sometimes you want to feel connected to the universe, sometimes you don't. I get more religion taking my dog for a walk than I'd get in any church on earth. I've taken shits which have provided me with more exquisite spiritual satisfaction than twelve years of Catholic school.

If there's a God, one of his best skills is concealing himself. I ascribe to the Cosmic Joke theory, that God puts us through the motions for no reason beyond his own sadistic delight. But I just can't trust a God so cruel he'd force me to live forever. I don't believe in an afterlife apart from the literal fact of biological recycling. After croaking, you decompose into mulch and thus aid the growth of plant life, which feeds the cows, who are eaten by humans. You turn to food when you die. Surviving homo sapiens feast on your recycled protoplasm. What a treat. Makes it worth getting up in the morning.



If our media aren't biased, tell me why we were shown EXTENSIVE DRIPPING KIDDIE GORE from the Oklahoma City bombing, but not so much as one drop of Iraqi blood during the Gulf War. In Iraq and Kuwait, our armed forces-paid for with your tax dollars-recently killed roughly ONE THOUSAND TIMES as many humans as the Oklahoma City bomb blast did, but our "objective" media didn't show ANY dead Iraqi babies. That's all you need to do to rest my mind-just 'splain this inconsistency to me. If I'm forced to pay taxes to have all these innocent people murdered, I should at least be entitled to watch.

By constantly poking you in the eyes with anti-terrorism scaremongering, the major media practice their own brand of psychological terrorism. If you've been scared by any of these images, you've been terrorized. In the new climate of iron-fisted "tolerance," it's no longer acceptable to phrase upper-class fears of lower-class revenge in terms of a Nigger Invasion. But it's quite alright to terrify people about a Hillbilly Takeover. The coverage has been so vague and one-sided that most Americans are probably convinced that the militias want to murder niggers, and they leave it at that.


From Chapter 9: ME AND THE BLACKS

I'm tired of racism, although the media apparently isn't. Race, race, all over the place. Stick it in your ear. Shove it in your face. The coverage is constant. Constant. Blecch. I WANTED to get along until you made it sound so sickening and treacly. If I see another holier-than-thou TV racial parable, I'll spew a rainbow of vomit. I've watched enough Norman Lear sitcoms over the years to learn that judging a person by their skin color is NOT A GOOD THING, OK? Yeah, it only took about SEVEN BILLION B-movie Simon Legrees before I realized that it's not nice to whip people on their bare backs until they bleed. If people still need to be clubbed in the cabeza with this "racism is evil" message, I don't think it's ever going to sink in. If they've yet to grasp the point that black slavery was a bad, bad, bad, bad, BAD thing, I don't think they ever will.

I really don't need any more sniffly images of black and white hands clasped together; no more magazine ads with Afros 'n' Euros laughing in unison around a piano; no more syrupy violins and slow-motion, wisdom-drenched gazes from wizened mulatto matriarchs; no more images of black and white kids squeaking gleefully together in playgrounds; no white, goggles-wearing assembly-line workers grinning amid showers of sparks at their black co-worker, patting his back for a job well-done; and no more sweaty, interracial, city-block basketball-game sodey-pop commercials where the white guys are somehow able to keep up. I thought we were going to get enlightenment, and all we got was more vaudeville. A social breakthrough would have been pleasant, but instead we get Al Jolson singing an encore of "Mammy."



Ideologically, the Guilty White Male is down with the program; materially, he's still a filthy-rich imperialist Yankee hyena. His "shame of being white" is more a sort of cutesy atavistic role-playing than anything tangible. He'll write soppy-wet articles about the homeless, but he won't offer his spare bedroom. He's tortured with guilt about his relative leisure and affluence compared to most indigenous peoples worldwide, yet he's not quick to pawn his cozy condo and Pentium chip in order to air-drop corn meal to the starving Pakistani peasantry. He's outraged about the oppression of blacks, but he isn't moving into the black slums, at least not this year. He feels terrible that the land was stolen from the Indians, but it doesn't appear as if he's giving it back anytime soon.

Why doesn't Mr. Multicultural give all his cool toys back to the Injuns? Because that would release him from guilt, and he likes to live in guilt. His guilt serves a definite psychological purpose for him, and he wouldn't ever want to get rid of it. The Guilty White Male takes pride in his own shame. But guilt only serves the guilty. Ever wonder why comfy urban white liberals feel such guilt about history and rural rednecks don't? The white liberal's guilt pangs have little to do with noble contrition; his guilt reflects an uncomfortable sense of his place in the historical order. If he feels so guilty...well, maybe he should. Maybe his guilt is real. Maybe that's why rednecks and blacks feel no guilt, while white liberals are stricken with it.