Jan
10

CMT’s “My Big Redneck Vacation” Perpetuates Stereotypes

January 10, 2012 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  45 Comments

Every day I give thanks to 8 lb. 6 oz. baby Jesus that I don’t have cable, but unfortunately as the proprietor of a country music website, I find myself on CMT’s website quite often to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the mainstream country world. That’s where I was so unfortunately and indecently exposed to the trailer of an upcoming series on CMT called “My Big Redneck Vacation” beginning January 21st.

The premise appears to be to ship a bunch of yahoos from the South up to The Hamptons in New York, and have them behave like a troupe of Barnum & Baily hillbilly oddities for the bemusement of New England’s sniveling upper crust, all while middle class suburbanites sit at home and live the stereotypical corporate country life vicariously through these redneck caricatures. See for yourself:

Perpetuating negative stereotypes on television about people from the South, and people from the country in general has been going on since the medium of television was created and before, and this dumb and clearly-staged reality show is in no way either a new concept or out of character for the entertainment elitists living on the two coasts. My beef is where this particular show is coming from.

There’s a contingent of white people who love to point out how you can have Black Entertainment Television (BET), but if you had “White Entertainment Television” it would be racist. They act like it’s some deep point that hasn’t been made a million times before when they make it, when it really goes without saying. But one of the reasons BET was created was because certain black entertainers and television executives were tired of seeing blacks depicted only negatively on TV. In the beginning, BET tried to make people of color proud of who they were, reinforce positive role models, and preserve black culture and history.

Then to make money, BET went to a strictly music format. And then Viacom, the same company that owns MTV and CMT, bought them and made even more changes until the vision that BET began with was all but erased. Instead of trying to break stereotypes, BET began creating and reinforcing them. MTV has also gone through a significant programming shift, from almost strictly music videos, to almost strictly reality programming.

“My Big Redneck Vacation” is the cultural equivalent of eating your own children, and the beginning steps down the slippery slope that CMT’s Viacom brothers of BET and MTV have already traversed into the pit of cultural decay. I know some will say CMT is in cultural decay already, but the format change from music to reality, and vice versa has always been the guidepost in Viacom properties moving away from values and towards maximizing revenue. We know folks outside of the country culture are going to use negative country stereotypes as a form of entertainment, so why would we then reinforce these stereotypes by engaging in these practices ourselves?

“My Big Redneck Vacation” is no different than the Jason Aldean’s and Justin Moore’s of the world singing laundry list songs filled with banal countryisms to bored suburbanites, while ignoring the things that actually make the country life beautiful and unique.

And it almost appears that these negative country stereotypes are becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. By glorifying and showcasing stupid behavior, we’re perpetuating it. Folks are acting dumb, behaving idiotically, and eating poorly because that is what they think they need to do to be accepted, or to part of a front-running culture, even though they know it’s bad for them. They are proud of being stupid, because right now, being stupid gets you attention

…or maybe I’m just over-reacting, or being “high fallutin’”. I’m sure that’s what the “Clampitt’s” would say.

45 Comments to “CMT’s “My Big Redneck Vacation” Perpetuates Stereotypes”

  • With the ongoing deterioration of the middle class in the United States, those in power must attempt to continue to perpetuate the myth that there are innate differences between us. In an attempt to justify their continued control of the majority of our earth’s resources, elites use such stereotypes as the ones you write about here to elicit our (the masses) support of their project of domination. I mean, if they’re idiots, they deserve to not have clean water, good schools, good jobs or a home, right?

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    • Exactly Noam . . . I mean Kak!

      (I knew you’d take that as a compliment)

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      • I DID!!!! :)

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  • Well, I can tell you one thing, Clampitt is their real last name. A friend of mine was in one of the girl’s weddings and I can verify that is correct.

    I see your points, and they are valid, but I don’t know if I agree. If you watch the promo, there is redemption and common ground found by both parties and they both seem to accept each other and become friends. To be honest, the people in the Hamptons would probably give me some of the same looks and have me kicked out of there and I’m in no way a redneck haha. I think you may be over-reacting a bit on this. The “redneck” series isn’t new, it’s been around for a while.

    On an unrelated note, I usually take issue with a lot of the things you post. In particular the way you speak about my beloved home of Nashville. I saw some pictures of you on Facebook and realized that you were actually quite nice to me and several others at Muddy Roots.

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    • I see your point about “redemption” and “common ground” but if you’ve ever seen the ‘plot’ unfold over a few seasons of a reality show, the redemption fades while the antics become more unreal. The point is and and always will be the shock value of stupid rednecks. As the shows goes on i’ll bet the target audience will be referring to anyone who owns a toothbrush as “high-fallutin’”. I’m just waiting for the song about a guy that prefers the smell of coon piss to french perfume.

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    • I have no doubt Clampitt is their real name, that is why they were cast. And of course this has been going on forever. I went out of my way to make that point above. But this is the first time it is originating from Nashville.

      As for Nashville, at this beginning of this site 4 years ago, I used Nashville and Music Row almost interchangeably. These days I make very sure to delineate the two, and NEVER generalize the city and it’s beautiful people and history with the music industry that in the end makes up only a small segment of it. I understand it might be easy to identify me with the “screw Nashville” crowd, but honest to God, I take the generalizing and stereotyping of Nashville very seriously, and try to avoid it at all costs.

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      • The “Nashville” thing is probably my own fault, I get bent out of shape when I see it associated with the crap coming from Music Row. When I see “Music Row”, I don’t have the same reaction ya know?

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  • What do you think about a movie like “Dead and Breakfast”?

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    • Never seen or heard of it, but I will look into it.

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  • I actually liked this film and thought it did a nice job of openly exploring myths of rednecks – Deliverance style…

    http://www.magnetreleasing.com/tuckeranddalevsevil/

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    • That movie is BRILLIANT!

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      • Agreed. :)

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        • Just watched that movie the other night. Hilarious!

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  • I agree 100%. Reality TV in general is completely disingenuous, and nothing but coached individuals who are encouraged to act like a caricature of whatever stereotype they supposedly represent. And by doing so, they serve to reinforce a negative view of whatever culture of subculture they’re grafted onto, as well as reinforce all the negative behaviors of those in the general public who want to identify with the people they see on TV. This is the Jersey Shore for corporate country culture. Absolutely nothing good can come of it.

    In response to Jeff’s comment above- I’ve never seen Trigger Man write something negative about the town or people of Nashville, only the Nashville music row country music establishment. In fact, I’ve only seen him write about the city with reverence for it’s history, and a desire to preserve that history and the city’s wonderful country music heritage.

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  • Anyone read “The Redneck Manifesto” by Jim Goad? He discusses a lot of these issues.

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    • I saw him open for Hank3 in ’07 backed by Power of County and it wasn’t half bad.

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      • I saw that too!

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  • I’m gonna be the one to say – I like “reality” TV and I would watch this cause it looks hysterical. Stereotypes exist for a reason, right or wrong, good or bad. The truth is that there are uptight society people AND people without high-society graces. Most of us fit somewhere in the middle. I doubt the show has any real value other than to show us that we all could use a change of perspective and scenery once in a while, to get out there and have new experiences. I don’t watch CMT but I’ll tune in for the trainwreck at least once…

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  • Doesn’t look any worse than the picture Hank3 or the Whites paint of rural culture.

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  • Seeing how I live on Long Island let me say this, the usual New York stereotypes do not apply to the Long Island people at all, (you could say where country lol), You will find these stereotypical NY people of course in NYC (which is where the stereotypes started) and the most western part of the Island, the further east you go the more it becomes the usual (enter laundry list song topics here). UNTIL you hit the Hamptons, that is a world of it’s own, you think rural people have a culture shock? Us LONG ISLANDERS have a big enough culture shock of our own if we ever stroll into the Hamptons haha. Just another thing to consider, the state of New York is huge! Get past the city and western LI its nothing if not like rural Virginia or the Carolinas, not to mention upstate has our own slice of Appalachia. Just another view on this. And I gotta laugh, last time I was at Hampton beach I TOO got kicked off the beach for fishing in the water in the middle of the summer, something about a big tourist season? haha.

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  • How annoying. Last summer I spent time in the Hamptons and time in the South. All the trips were really fun and I spied a few stereotypical characters from both cultures but we didn’t bother to judge each other. It was more about the beach, the music, or the mountains.

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    • thats what its all about

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  • Has anyone seen “Idiocracy”? Every day, shows like this bring us one step closer to being a bunch of mindless morons impatiently waiting for “Ow! My Balls!” to come on the tv. I don’t watch reality tv. Not going to start, either. Unfortunately, country people aren’t alone in having the worst of the worst exploited on television. Just think about how the average Joe in New Jersey feels about Jersey Shore. And being from WV, the granddaughter of a life-long coal miner, and from the county where the Battle of Blair Mountain took place, I am sick to DEATH of decades of using the term “redneck” as a slam against someone. People need to educate themselves and stop paying attention to the garbage that tv feeds us.

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    • Ow! My Balls! Sounds great! Do you know when it’s premiering?

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    • Carrie the word “Redneck” is far from being a pejorative for people that have studied the history of Organized Labor in America. It’s a badge of honor. When I hear it used disparagingly I just smile and think “This dumbfuck doesn’t even know the words their using”.

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  • I find this endlessly fascinating. I work for a TV network and my job is making the promos, just like the one you see above. So blame me. It’s my job to make a promo like that to drive viewers to the show. I actually felt the promo producer was rather generous in the way they finished up the promo, on a touchy-feely positive note. I personally wouldn’t have, I’d have kept the most shocking antic til the end and finished it with a reaction shot of one of the high fallutin’ types. It’s not about making people look good or doing the honourable thing, it’s about bums on seats.

    I love my trash telly as much as my high-brow cable dramas, and I would watch that show for shit and giggles. Yep, of course you are right that it reinforces negative stereotypes, however it did seem quite ‘hammy’ to me – it’s clearly loosely scripted with pretty elaborate setups too (ie the party, where did they get the ‘gator and snake? Or can you buy that at the supermarket in the Hamptons?)

    I’m a big fan of culpability, clearly the Clampitt’s happily agreed to go on this show, got a fancy holiday in a place they’ve never been before and probably got a bunch of money for their efforts too.

    As a foreigner, I’m besotted with the southern states of the US and I’ve spent a bit of time there on holiday, so I understand the vile stereotypes and am often the one defending the south (people, music, landscape etc) to my friends who live in CA and NYC. And yes, of course these sort of programmes do nothing but reinforce the negative impressions they have. It’s not called the ‘Idiot Box’ for no reason!

    The format of this show is nothing new, Trading Spouses and Wife Swap have been doing this for years. I think I’ve mentioned before that on Trading Spouses they actually subtitle the southerners, which I find totally appalling and insulting. I have a feeling this isn’t for the international feed we are sent, I think it’s just something the producers do to make those sitting in The Hamptons understand the southerners better.

    End of the day it’s just entertainment, pure and simple. You’re also probably preaching to the choir here, as I think pretty much all of us are in agreeance with you about this. It would be really fabulous to actually get this article published in the mainstream media, Trig. It’s very thought provoking and the message is important.

    PS Desperate for any kind of southern fix I can get here in the deep dark depths of the south pacific, I do have to say I was very happy to find Hillybilly Handfishin’ here on Discovery Channel the other day!

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    • Carla, thanks for the kind words about the South. I’ve lived here all my life and get kind of frustrated with the stereotypes, too. That being said, there is a difference between the lifestyles of people in the rural South and people who live in the urban Northeast. People in Upstate New York would have a lot more in common with the Clampits. But then it wouldn’t be such a “fish out of water” story.

      I watched the premiere and laughed out loud. My husband and I hunt with people like the Clampits. They’re a lot of fun. I’ve also met writers from NYC at our local writers conference and they are wonderful people, too.

      It’s true that Southern white people are the only group that the media (or anyone else) can make fun of anymore. That makes me angry sometimes, but you know what? We just keep on keepin’ on. I’m reading a book called “Born Fighting” by James Webb right now that explains a lot of the how and why about Southerners.

      I hope you can get a Southern fix soon!

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  • I do some work for a guy who is a script writer for a couple of different reality shows. I wonder if he’s on board with this one. People like to make fun of stereotypes, and rednecks are one of last groups you can laugh at and not get sued.

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  • I remember when MTV was criticized for being “addictive”. The stream of 3 minute videos kept the the viewer watching to see what was up next. Now, people don’t have that long of an attention span. A music video can’t keep them but the promise of shocking moment to come seems to do the trick. From the reality shows I’ve seen, the preview sums it up completely, the rest is filler.

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  • The guy with the megaphone looks and sounds like he could be my neighbor’s twin… great guy by the way.

    Is it worth saying that the stereotypes are going two ways here? The idea that the Hamptons are all old, stuffy rich folks is also misguided. I lived on Long Island after college, and while old money exists in places, the Hamptons are more New York than New England, and can be as tacky as any place, just with more money. A lot of celebrities and new wealth.

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    • And then there’s also a gay wedding planner or something in the trailer as well. That is all this show is, easily-identifiable stereotypes set in almost cartoonish scenarios. In fact, this reminds me a lot of cartoons for children, where the characterization is very obvious so small-minded folks can keep up.

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      • Oh yes, I forgot to mention that bit. I think there’s a scene in the promo where they show one of the hillbillies hugging the gay wedding planner too? Because of course poor white trash hate the gays and vice versa. Yawn.

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      • Well said – though as folks have said, isn’t just innocent fun… not that I think that cartoons are innocent. And not that I don’t watch a bit of trash TV once and awhile.

        I would love to see a really thoughtful TV show about the rural south, and can’t think of any. “I’ll Fly Away” from the 1990s (set in the 1950s, moved from network to PBS because of low ratings) was good, but not really rural. The stereotypes aren’t anything new, though – think Dukes of Hazzard.

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  • [...] Sometimes the jokes just write themselves and I don’t even have to make them. Gotta love perpetuating stereotypes for financial gain. I think the Triggerman says everything perfectly about the subject HERE.  [...]

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  • Still better than Jerery Shore

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  • By the way, their family name is “Clampet”.

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  • Well you have to thank MBRV for one thing – it brought me to your site!

    I saw it advertised and wanted to see a review of the program. I wasn’t expecting much from the program in the first place, but the first review I found was yours.

    And what a revelation!

    I now have a new website on a subject I love, written well, with thought and wit and attention.

    So, while the program is crass and tasteless and the epitome of voyeuristic crap ‘reality’ TV, you have to thank MBRV for drawing me here – that, along with your well crafted site and your great way with words.

    Cheers, all the way from the hot, steamy jungles of Borneo.

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  • I watched this debacle for the first time today. These dip shits perpetuate the stigma that southerners and country folk are ignorant. I deal with enough crap from Yankees. I dont need the stereotype encouraged. They oughta be ashamed for selling out their people for a paycheck.

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  • I know this will probably be an unpopular comment, but I’m from CT and I find this show offensive too. Not all Northerners are stuck up wealthy snobs. I’d rather spend a day with the Clampets than most of the elitist people from the Hamptons. For the record, New York is NOT New England. New England is more country than the Hamptons will ever be. I definately relate more to the Clampets than their uppitty neighbors. I think both sides are getting a bad rap here. Oh and Brian – Yankees? Really?

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    • Excellent point and I’m a little embarrassed I didn’t make it myself!

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  • As a born and bred New Englander, who LOVES the south, I have to agree about your take on the show being staged and stereotypical. But please—for the love of all that is holy and good, I have to correct you on something! New York is NOT part of New England! New England is Mass, NH, Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut! And lumping New England in with NY is some fighting words!

    FYI!

    :)

    p.s. Bless your heart.

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  • Really I mean I love this show imma country girl myself, and I get sick of yuppies and there lame inputs to everything! They got a chance to go places they probably otherwise never would have and had fun and made people laugh while doing so! Keep criticism to yourself don’t hate on others because of your unhappiness! I can’t wait to see some more bring it on cmt I love it;) we southerners just know how to have a good time and we don’t give a hoot what other ppl think of us! I would love to hang out with this family for a day.

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