Folks here know country ... and that ain’t country

Opinion Column

Carlton Fletcher

Carlton Fletcher

I got a shotgun, rifle and a four-wheel drive, And a country boy can survive. Country folks can survive.

— Hank Williams Jr.

Me and my family was livin’ proof That people forgot about poor white trash. And if that ain’t country I’ll kiss your a.

— David Allan Coe

I laugh at people like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (not to his face, of course), the beardy guy on “Duck Dynasty,” Honey Boo Boo and about half of the singers whose songs sit at the top of the country music charts these days.

A seemingly diverse group, they all have one thing in common: They’re selling their peculiar brand of “redneckism” to a white audience obviously desperate for pop culture heroes. (Sorry, you’re not going to see Lebron James, Jay-Z and Aziz Ansari standing around the water cooler talking about the latest zany antics of a lovable little chunk of authentic Georgia sunshine who just happens to — on her own, mind you — come up with such witticisms as “You better redneckognize!”)

Because people obviously now have very little to do other than sit around and text each other about the latest adventures of Beardy and Stone Cold’s “hell yeahs” on “Redneck Island” — plus no one’s making rock music anymore — there seems to be a large enough audience for this faux country-tinged entertainment to keep a lot of phonies employed and well-paid.

There’s something about finding out the latest chart-topping single blowing up on CMT is being sung by a guy who had a pampered, country club upbringing and wouldn’t know a great speckled bird from pheasant under glass or a dirt road from a driving range.

Here’s how you can tell if all these would-be rednecks and “real country” superstars are genuine or products of Hollywood and Nashville’s redneck assembly lines (with apologies to Jeff Foxworthy):

  • — If they hunt from a heated/air-conditioned shelter with running water and electricity and have someone pick up the game they shoot so they don’t get their hands dirty, they might not be a redneck.
  • If their “scruff” is “groomed,” each darkly tinted hair lined up in neat rows, and there aren’t splotches where no hair will grow, they might not be a redneck.
  • If they spray themselves down with every chemical known to man in an effort to “scare off those horrible creatures” rather than just poking their lower lip out and blowing the gnats away from their eyes, they might not be a redneck.
  • If they have a catchphrase that doesn’t include the words “yee” and “haw,” they might not be rednecks.
  • If they turn their nose up and go “Ewwww!” at grits or red-eye gravy, they might not be rednecks.
  • If they prefer champagne, wine — especially from a particular “vintage,” whatever that is — or mineral water over a cold Miller or a glass of sweet tea, they might not be a redneck. (Full disclosure: I drink neither beer nor tea, so read what you will into that.)
  • If their knowledge of country music goes back only as far as Hank Jr. and doesn’t include Hank Sr. (the REAL Hank, no offense to Jr.), they might not be a redneck.
  • If they talk about “shooting targets at the gun club” and not about blasting away at tin cans or beer bottles on fence posts, they might not be a redneck.
  • If they’ve never been involved in a “dirt clod war” or even have an idea what one is, and if they swam only in heated pools, never skinny-dipped in a farm pond, they might not be rednecks.
  • If they say “Yeeeew all” in a phony, lilting voice, especially in reference to a single person rather than a group, they not only might not be rednecks, they ought to be taken out and fed to the mosquitoes without any Off or Deet.
  • If they watch any of these ridiculous TV shows and actually believe that’s the way Southern people act or if they listen to the latest country hit by some tight jeans-wearing “cowboy” or low-cut top-wearing “cowgirl” who wouldn’t know a cow pie from an Eskimo pie, they definitely are not rednecks and they need to let some of these good ol’ Lee County boys take them out snipe hunting some evening.

Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at carlton.fletcher@albanyherald.com.