Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Redneck TV

I used to think Jeff Foxworthy was a funny guy. There was a time when he was making fun of white trash and inbred hicks. Now he ensconces himself in that shroud of ignorance and laughs all the way to the bank. Larry the Cable guy started out as a parody of the stereotypical hick, but somehow he's become some cultural hero that people almost look up to.

The two of them anchor a show entitled Blue Collar TV. Somehow elevating their trivial and tired acts into some sort of working class celebration. As somebody who comes from a blue collar background I find it insulting to assume that everybody in the working class would be entertained by the stupid crap these hacks foist upon their viewing audience.

I don't begrudge these guys making money. Nothing would give me more joy than to realize a revenue source in making a complete ass of myself and if I could exploit some niche market to maintain a lucrative following I am certain I would pander to that audience too.

My issue is with the fact that there is an audience that celebrates the disagreeable negative stereotypes portrayed by these comics. When Chris Rock did his bit on the difference between black people and niggers, he didn't embrace an audience of gang-bangers and remove the satire from his act to embrace them. He was speaking to his audience of regular people of all colors. He was bemoaning the fact that a handful of jerks ruin life for everybody by perpetrating a negative stereotype. It was a biting commentary on our society that addressed the small minority of blacks who live down to negative stereotypes while skewering whites who accept that stereotype in general. Best of all it was funny.

Foxworthy used to be funny because he made fun of a segment of white society that represents a small but very negative minority. He wasn't exceptionally cruel in his comedy, but he made fun of those hopeless morons who think it's OK to leave the trash in a pile in the back yard instead of walking it out to the curb once a week. Suddenly his You might be a redneck... schtick is like some sort of anthem for the mobile home set. It's not funny when the people you're making fun of wear that joke like some badge of honor. Foxworthy doesn't care as long as the money keeps rolling in.

Larry the Cable guy has departed from his witless banter about naked grandmothers and fart induced fires to dabble in political issues but his political commentary isn't comedy or satire. Since Larry is a character who doesn't so much tell jokes as he does portray them, the political aspect of Larry the Cable guy comes across as racist and ignorant. The lines between comedy and hate-mongering are blurred.

In fact the lines between Larry the Cable guy and his creator have become blurred to the point where Dan Whitney no longer exists. In Cars the role of Mater is credited to Larry the Cable guy. The same is true in Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector. One would think that Dan Whitney, who started out with several characters he would portray, would want to have a career outside of Larry. Eventually the novelty will wear off and Larry the Cable guy will go the way of Buster Poindexter, and other fictional characters that became part of pop culture. Sure Dan Whitney will still have the money, but will he still be trying to milk that Larry the Cable guy act 20 years from now?

I suppose that the success of this genre speaks to the ignorance of the fans. Since most of those who watch Blue Collar TV wouldn't know how to spell satire much less define it, these idiots think that Larry the Cable guy is empowering in some sort of way and that being a redneck can't be a bad thing if they talk about it on TV. They are simple minded people and the comics have resorted to very simple material to amuse their audience.

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