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Rednecks and Country

Country Standard Time Editorial, October 2006

Comedian Jeff Foxworthy became very popular thanks to his trademark shtick of "You'd be a redneck if..." The list went on and on and on about the dumb things that rednecks did or said. Foxworthy, a Southerner, never exactly seemed to embrace the lifestyle as one that was all that commendable or worthy. His treatment of the subject at hand was more in terms of poking fun than glorifying the lifestyle, which has long been the object of ridicule.

But somehow that notion has changed in recent years. The starting point can probably be traced to Gretchen Wilson and her catchy super megahit, "Redneck Woman," from her first album in 2005. All of a sudden, the idea of being a redneck wasn't so bad because it meant that you were independent, stood up for yourself and did things your way.

Whereas once the idea of a redneck was a hellraiser, who worked the fields and was racist, all of a sudden, the term was co-opted by a few members of the country music club and twisted and turned and used to good effect.

That eventually extended to "Redneck Yacht Club" by Craig Morgan and other subtler depictions of Southern pride.

Perhaps the most ridiculous utterance of the idea of being a redneck was from young singer Katrina Elam whose second album is coming soon. During a recent concert in the Boston area, she said she was a redneck because she was a small town girl from the boondocks of Oklahoma and yodeled.

Sorry Katrina, but try as hard you might to cash in on the concept of rednecks being cool, you are not a redneck. It was as if some marketing consultant sat down with her and told her the quickest way to success is to admit being a redneck so she would come off as another tough chick doing their own thing the way they want to.

Even funnier is when these artists come north and ask how many rednecks there are in the audience. Of course, a few people always answer in the affirmative, but these artists ought to come up with better stage patter that doesn't sound so cheap and contrived.

What is most ridiculous is that these artists totally altered the definition of redneck. Let the term stand for what it really is and was and not change it for some attempt at trying to come off as cool in a marketing ploy. Where's Jeff Foxworthy when we need him for some real, genuine unforced redneck humor?