Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Lighten Up, Mr. Biden

During last night's YouTube Democratic Presidential Candidate debate, a couple of witty hillbillies identifying themselves as the "Red State Update" from Murfeesboro, Tennessee, asked a tongue in cheek question of the candidates about Al Gore's continuing unseen presence as a Democratic contender in the 2008 presidential race. Referencing the mainstream media's continuing interest in "Ole Al Gore", the two men, identifying themselves as Jackie Broyles and Dunlap asked the candidates, "What we want to know is, does that hurt ya'll's feelins'?"

Seeming to not understand or care about the intelligent satire implicit in the question, candidate Joe Biden seized on the opportunity to take up for the good citizens of Tennessee by responding, "I think the people of Tennessee just had their feelings hurt." While I didn't grow up in Tennessee, I grew up fifty miles from the Virginia/Tennessee border and I for one didn't have my feelings hurt one little bit. While I cringe at dumb Hee-Haw portrayals of Hillbillies, these guys are obviously smart and witheringly funny and while Mr. Biden might not realize it, these men are using humor to show the rest of the thinking world that hillbillies too have brains in their heads. It's irony, Mr. Biden, so please don't take up for us by putting down these creative gentlemen. While some of the well heeled country club types in Nashville might get riled up a bit by the portrayal, I'd like to think that most Tennesseans were rightfully proud of these fellows and their well portrayed parody.

A clip of the question can be accessed via YouTube at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_yVxv0I1_I and the Red State Update site is here.

I visited the site this morning and had a good chuckle. I hope we can laugh at ourselves without needing Mr. Biden to come to our defense. But thanks anyway, Joe.


Steven said...

I love this blog... and lurk a LOT. This got me out of lurking mode. I totally agree. Who's to say that hillbillies can't simultaneously embrace the hillbilly aesthetic and push it away. There are other cultures that simultaneously poke fun of themselves and push for understanding and equality. How are we any different, really? Biden is a putz. Right on April!

pk said...

oh, hogwash. i'm a tennesseean living in chicago, and i can see it from both sides. i watch travis and dunlap religiously; they're hilarious AND truthful.

pk said...

guh. travis and jonathan. (i'm terrible with names.)

April A. Cain said...

PK, I think Steven agrees with you. I presume the hogwash comment was aimed at Biden!! I intend to check out travis and jonathan frequently.

April A. Cain said...

Someone sent me Jackie and Dunlap's response to Biden which aired on CNN this morning:

Byron Chesney said...

That was absolutely hilarious!

An unoffended Tennessean

Steven said...

Darn tootin' I agree. But I also get miffed when outsiders like Biden pull rank... native American and African American cultures have very similar dichotomies, I think -- and vigorously defend themselves against stereotypes.

Here's a good example... Pigeon Forge, TN. I mean, how much money does that place produce for the region's economy? Millions? Billions? Who pumps most of that money into the economy? Appalachians. And how many barefooted hillbillies do you see shopping or eating there? None. Despite that.... every corner you turn has a mural of some ragged-hat, cob-smoking hillbilly with bare feet painted on it. Hello!? Am I offended? Sometimes, I suppose. But I also love the Hillbily Aesthetic and embrace it's camp and irony.

Great topic and discussion! again, I love this blog!

CG said...

Damn yankees always wanting to "save" us.

Kell said...

I absolutely l-o-v-e Red State Update and I'm not offended either! It's funny, extremely smart, and puts a positive spin on the hillbilly stereotype.

I am of the opinion that one of the best ways to combat that stereotype is to parody and stretch it to extremes. Makes people think about how backwards THEY are for buyin' into it.

Lord knows how many times in my travels in the "outside world" when I've answered where I'm from and they ask "You are from BLOODY HARLAN?", and "Is it true that people will shoot you down right in the street for nothing?"

I always answer by putting my hand against my chest and draw out the best of my accent: "Oh yeah, it's crazy there. I've lost 37 members of my family that way in the past two years...ain't ye ever h'yeard of the MOUNTAIN MAFIA? Yeah, that was us. We'll shoot ye faster than you can say haddy." LMAO

...Gets 'em every time. Then once their jaws close I give them a history lesson on how Harlan County got the nickname, who gave it, and what caused it. THEN they understand how ridiculous they were being for thinking we were a bunch of trigger happy hillbillies.

I'd like to think I'm educating the masses of unlearned Yankees on their wrong assumptions...(oh damn, I'll admit, I like to have a little fun with them too).

We only get a bad rap to the yanks because those poor people just don't know any better.

I say we should embrace our Hillbillyhood and give it a new definition to the outside world. We know we're great, they're just too shortsighted to see past The Beverly Hillbillies to know that things just aren't what they seem.

Red State Update does just that.