Wednesday, July 17, 2013

American Media versus Middle America

Just why does Hollywood hate rural consumers -- and their preferred entertainment brands -- so much?

Paula Deen, the Savannah, Georgia native whose love of deep fried, calorie-loaded cuisine made her a cable TV Leviathan, is the latest victim in a media purge of any and all Red state icons from popular culture. For those of you that have been living underneath a boulder all summer, Deen confessed to dropping the “N” bomb several decades ago, and since she may or may not have wanted to stage something of a minstrel show at her brother's wedding, she was immediately sacrificed on the altar of contemporary political correctness -- a considerable amount of fat to burn as an offering to the (non-gender or race-specified) P.C. Gods, no doubt.

Say what you will about Deen’s alleged statements (and, uh, the shit she actually fessed up to), but it’s hard to deny that her brutal public assassination by the media’s sharpest shooters isn’t indicative of a widespread cultural pogrom against mass media figures that are a.) lucrative, b.) beloved by rural (especially Southern rural) individuals and c.), of course, Anglo-Saxon European in culture, heritage and outward appearance.

The barons of popular media aren’t just celebrating Deen’s downfall like the denizens of a Super Bowl winning city, they’re revealing in her career suicide like Scrooge McDuck showering himself with golden coins. The elimination of Paula Deen from “the mainstream” is another moral win for the elitist, coastal media cartel -- a consortium of hyper-liberal, hyper-P.C. and hyper-snotty social guardians that have no problems making moolah off rural citizens but would rather commit hari-kari before giving them any bona-fide political and social representation in the public spotlight.

It’s a clear paradox; the New York-Hollywood media connection absolutely detests everything rural America -- especially rural southern America -- stands for. They hate their right-wing political views (automatically deemed oppressive, homophobic, misogynistic and racist, of course), they hate their religious beliefs, they hate their attachment to family (and those loathsome, prejudiced “family values” tied with it) and they hate, much more than anything, the fact that they actually HAVE money and can contribute considerable amounts of revenue into their pop culture constructions (which, clearly, most southerners choose not to.)

If you gauged what rural America was based on popular culture, it appears to be a social wasteland, filled with toothless, rebel-flag waving homophobes and subservient, still-marginalized African-Americans, united only by an admixture of charismatic Christianity, regional kitsch, folksy patois and of course, horrifically unhealthy foodstuffs. In some ways, the public eradication of Paula Deen is something of a symbolic destruction of the cultural systems that the coastal P.C. police consider the main obstructive pillars separating southern folk from assimilation into Camp Democrat. If only the whites and blacks would give up that crazy old time religion, and give up the fried food, and give up the ass-backwards lingo, and start reading Vogue and Newsweek, than maybe, we could civilize those folks into the kinds of consumers we want ‘em to be.

As opposed to other reputable news sources, of course.

The problem here is multi-pointed. First and foremost, the cultural aggressors are apparently unaware that the southland, that worthless stretch of real estate stretching from Virginia all the way to Texas, is not only the most heavily populated region of the country, it’s also…gaspthe wealthiest, being home to approximately one-tenth of the world's Fortune 500 companies.

Looking at the household income of several Southern metropolises, such as Atlanta, Austin and Charlotte, it’s quite apparent that all of us poor honkies and black folk are in reality quite a bit richer than most of the high-and-mighty denizens of Liberaltopias such as Philadelphia and Santa Barbara. The fact that cultural integration -- i.e., the levels of people of various racial and ethnic backgrounds living, commingling, schooling, working and marrying together -- is oftentimes higher in the south than elsewhere is also an inconvenient reality that is all but ignored by contemporary, coastal media. Seems to me that the media complex doesn’t WANT to acknowledge the southlands’ impressive progressivism in terms of race relations and economics, because…well, shit, I just reckon they want some racial holdover around to kick up whenever an uncomplicated answer is needed to complex social problems. “Well, uh, we can explain complicated cultural matters today because…a long, long time ago…there was racial bigotry in the South!” The past indiscretions of Dixie, it seems, is a cultural security blanket the mainstream media never intends on relinquishing -- all the while ignoring  the north's history of racial persecution and contemporary discrimination, of course.

The real rift between the rural South and the coastal media cartel is simply a matter of marketing, however. You see, the left-coast media-makers have a firm idea of what it is that American consumers want -- Tom Hanks movies, gangster rap, TV shows about New York hipsters ala “Friends” and “Seinfeld.” The thing is, people in rural America just don’t give a shit about the stuff the mass media complex keeps telling them they should like, and have instead embraced their own pop culture machinery. Country music is a format that exists entirely outside the domain of contemporary pop culture, a form of music that lives in an apartheid state completely detached from everything else in the industry; and unlike niche genres like death metal and techno, people actually BUY country music, making it, effectively, the most popular genre in the U.S. Of course, you never saw Garth Brooks on MTV, nor did you see the Oak Ridge Boys play at the Grammys -- the record companies are certainly willing to make a cheap buck of acts that cater to rural tastes, but they will be goddamned before they give them a prominent spot in the public eye.

Back in the late 70s and early 80s, movies catering to southern viewers -- stuff like “Smokey and the Bandit” and “Cannonball Run” -- were huge moneymakers for studios, but of course, the makers of such films were ashamed. Not because the films were of a low quality and pandering to rural demographics, but because the movies actually MADE money and people that otherwise had no interest in Hollywood productions actually opened their wallets to see them. Movies geared towards southern audiences today are limited to the occasional “Tyler Perry” movie, with southern viewers of all racial delineations having no interest in Hollywood claptrap like “The Devil’s Knot” -- a film that typifies Hollywood’s almost infantile inability to view southerners as actual human beings as opposed to intellectually-stunted, slow-talking space aliens.

They have beards, therefore, they have to be racists. Clearly.

But really, it’s TV where the rift between Hollywood and Dollywood shows itself the most. Far and away, television is the go-to media format for older southerners. They almost never go to the cinema, they don’t buy music and they’re Internet use is highly limited. Therefore, they watch a TON of TV. Now, since such a huge audience of rural folks (with sizable disposable incomes, at that) are watching television, you would THINK that the coastal conglomerates would try to cater to the format-dedicated audience. While Hollywood tries to sell general America on “Breaking Bad” and “Game of Thrones,” middle America is watching what it’s always enjoyed; trashy daytime talk shows, pro wrestling, Country Music Television, SEC football, “American Idol” and the granddaddy of all old-shame, regional programming favorites, “Cops.” And even when programs of the like net huge ratings for networks -- as the “Blue Collar Comedy” flicks did for Comedy Central -- the same networks try to shy away from what puts money in their own wallets and invest more airtime in “civilized” programming that rural citizens have no interest in subjecting themselves to. This wholly explains why David Cross is allotted money for commercial failure after failure, while proven box office draws like Larry the Cable Guy, despite consistent media success, are considered persona non grata in the entertainment complex.

Strangely, the reality TV boom of the 2000s gave rural citizens its two most prominent slices of pop culture exposure -- “Duck Dynasty” and “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.” In a way, both programs are reactionary to the glut of high-society, elitist pop-crap like “The Hills” and “Laguna Beach” -- insight into the phony, plastic-wrap world of make believe debutantes and vapid high-society snobs that has about as much appeal to southerners as an all Canadian Stanley Cup Final.

The truly weird thing that happened with both programs is that, while they were clearly designed as passive aggressive swipes at regional anti-intellectualism, they actually CONNECTED with rural viewers. The misadventures of an obese, energy-drink chugging fourth-grader and the probably-scripted anti-adventures of a bunch of bearded capitalists pretending to be general store stock dunderheads had much more allure to regional viewers than, say, something like “Dexter” or  “The Wire,” if only for the fact that “Honey Boo Boo” and “Duck Dynasty” had an air of sincerity to them. In a way, the southern folks KNOW they are being pandered to with such programs, and they appreciate the honesty with the greatest civic endorsement of them all -- hitting the record button on their DVRs.

Of course, the success of the two aforementioned programs has led to a dearth of pale imitators, all trying to capitalize on the unexpected popularity of  “Dynasty” and “Boo Boo.” The coastal conglomerates MISTOOK viewers’ appreciation of the genuine representation of southern culture as the primary catalyst for the shows’ success, and instead thought that such shows were popular because viewers had a cruel, Schadenfreude streak in them that enjoyed miring in stupidity, aimlessness and the culture of rural poverty. In a recession-rocked world, THEY thought that shows of the like were ways for distressed suburbanites to vicariously pretend to be careless white trash, to fantasize about not having duties, obligations or that precarious feeling of elitist stature. And from that, enter shows about parolees and pit bulls, people that pretend to raid storage sheds for a living and quite possibly the nadir of the entire movement, “Buckwild,” a pseudo-reality program about Darwin Awards-baiting teenagers in West Virginia that incurred an untimely series finale after its star attraction was killed in a bizarre  accident that in no way, shape or form looked like the desperate act of a suicidal youth trying to escape his social confines and unwanted media attention. Tears a plenty were shed by Viacom that day…not because their reluctant lead actor was dead, but because he died BEFORE they could catch him on tape saying something politically incorrect. Suicide in Hollywood is cool, remember, just as long as you don’t commit career suicide first.

And so, Hollywood’s bizarre “white trash exploitation” fad -- a movement in which media producers shamelessly trot out stereotypical product after product and attempt to feign shame when such productions are more lucrative than their “higher brow” offerings -- looks like it’ll be chugging along for quite awhile. Methinks as the trend continues, perhaps the media producers can take their offerings to the next logical step, and utterly embrace the low-budget, hedonistic lifestyles of Southern miscreants. Coming this fall to AMC, it’s “Crankin’ Y’all!” an all-new semi-reality series about small-time meth dealers in Mississippi with third grade educations, whose dialects consist primarily of grunts and racial slur variations. Finally, a show that lifts the veil on a culture the Hollywood elitists so desperately want to exist, a veritable smorgasbord of Caucasoid idiocy and social backwardness! Mullets and illegal firearms and pitiable religiosity and of course, all the blatant, self-righteous condemnation of impoverished racists you can shake a burning cross at!

Meanwhile, the executive suits at A&E and TLC wait anxiously, twiddling their thumbs and praying to the gods they don’t believe in that Honey Boo Boo gets caught dropping an ethnic epithet in front of a TMZ camera crew, because as we all know, the ignorant parroting of a child living in paucity is a far, far greater social ill than a bunch of ravenous adults following around children with the intent of wrecking their social livelihoods. Oh, the joy producers must feel cherishing the thought of one of the “Duck Dynasty” members being recorded saying something homophobic or anti-Semitic! Never mind the squandered revenue, in this day and age, the scent of a burnt cash cow is more desirable than milking a pitiful, rural-icon for millions in annual profits.

Let’s face it; these hyper-P.C., Red-state haters aren’t going to be content until Dixieland burns down for a second time


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