You can count me out of the trendy Redneck Renaissance going on. I guess I’m one of the silent minority who doesn’t feel any pride or respect for being called a redneck. I’m absolutely as Southern as I can be. I’m definitely a country boy, and I’m filled toe to top with Southern pride, but I’ll be darned if I’m a redneck.
To me, “redneck” is not a synonym for “Southern,” because being Southern does not mean being a redneck. All rednecks are not Southerners, and you can definitely be Southern without being a redneck (thank God).
My parents raised all of us to be intensely proud of our Southern heritage, but they expressly forbid us from acting like rednecks. My maternal grandfather was an Alabama farmer his whole life, but he would have decked anybody that dared call him a redneck. My mother told me he used to work out math equations, problems, and formulas in his head as a way of passing the time while he sat on a tractor. My paternal grandmother was the very living embodiment of the word “Lady,” but she would have surely slapped you down if you referred to any member of our family as a redneck.
I don’t fault Jeff Foxworthy for basing his entertainment career on the premise that there are rednecks everywhere, because he’s right. There are definitely rednecks in Iowa, Michigan, Indiana, and even New Jersey. I have no problem there. But for some reason, that simple notion of his has been corrupted to insinuate that being redneck is something uniquely Southern, and worthy of some kind of cultural dignity.
I totally disagree, and the country music establishment should be ashamed of itself for exploiting this absurdity.
In my mind, being a redneck is not a status to which anyone would aspire. I don’t believe the current Hollywood and media trend of depicting all Southerners as rednecks is a good thing. Therefore, I’m just disturbed a little bit by TV shows that loosely interchange the word “redneck” for the word “Southern.” In my way of thinking, Hollywood is using all of this as an excuse to “cleanse” Southern pride from our culture and replace it with redneck pride, and the only way it will work is to trick Southerners into calling themselves rednecks instead of Southerners. I ain’t falling for it.
Like I said, I’m probably in the minority on this, but I still don’t like it.