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Friday, June 10, 2005

The Klan Meeting's Been Moved to the Pancake House

You might be a Redneck if . . . you never miss a single episode of King of the Hill.

What makes a Redneck a redneck? Does the fact that I make an effort to watch UPN each night at 9:00 in order to enjoy a full hour of King of the Hill . . . does that make me a redneck?

Does the fact that I grew up in Oklahoma, building fences for my step-father, make me a redneck? How about the fact that my step-family—the people I grew up with—well, some of them may be rednecks?

They enjoy their Friday and Saturday nights sitting in the backyard, in lawn chairs arranged in a circle, with an ice chest full of Coors and Bud Light in the center. . . smoking and sucking on tobacco, kids playing noisily in the background, Charlie Daniels Band is playing on a the stereo inside and can be heard drifting through the kitchen windows . . . and they all sit around smoking and joking and talking until the back porch light can no longer fight the darkness enough to allow them a clear sight of the beer they have been sipping.

At times, I find that to be an enjoyable way to spend time with friends and family. Does THAT make me a redneck?

On last night’s episode of King of the Hill, Hank is accused of being a racist after Ladybird, his bloodhound, bites a black repairman. In response, he is fronted out in church, he is ostracized at work, he is shut out by his wife and even his friends turn on him. (Bill had a great line when, over a beer, he looked to Hank and sincerely asked, “C’mon, Hank, haven’t they been through enough already??”) It all comes to a head when half the church starts singing “Kumbayah” on Hank’s front lawn.

(If I was Hank, I would have pulled out the garden hose.)

And through it all Hank continues to defend himself by repeating: “But I believe in judging a man not ‘by the color of his skin but by the actions of his heart.’” (A clear reference to King’s admonition to judge a man not “by the color of his skin but by the content of his character.”)

Having grown up in the “South,” just a stone’s throw from Dixie, I have been educated and re-educated time and time again on the evils of racism. Of course there are still a very, very many prejudiced people driving the dirt roads of “Beulah” with their Achy-Breaky haircuts in their 1975 Chevy trucks, but merely living here no longer makes one a racist. Instead, for most, slavery is now seen for what it was: a horrible and morally-destitute institution. It was the cancer that killed a once extremely proud and otherwise great society.


By the end of this particular King of the Hill episode, we see that Hank is definitely not a racist. Yet, I think, most people look at the King of the Hill characters as rednecks. What makes them rednecks? I have no clearer answer to this than I do as to what might make me a redneck.

They are middle-class, living in a small southern town. They are not highly educated, but they are honest and they make honest livings. (Well, I think so . . . not too sure about Boomhuaer, though.) Sure they like to use back hoes to dig big holes, they idolize their pick-up trucks, talk funny, and they stand in their alleyway drinking beer every afternoon. But they’re not racist and they aren’t hateful. They are good people.

Truth is, you would probably call me a redneck simply because of where I came from and, when I’m around other so-called “rednecks,” the way of speaking I slip into. But should I put on a suit and (quite comfortably) correct my speech . . . you would never know.

. . . I’ll tell you what.


Blogger Mark in Mexico said...

Nice post. You need a trackback feature.

6/11/2005 10:36 AM  

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