Sunday, April 1, 2012

Redneck Network: Now we’re gettin’ somewhere!

(Reprinted from today's Times and News-Star)

I can’t remember which Christmas it was when small white lights in the outline of a deer about to be field dressed hung in festive holiday fashion from my sister’s front porch in Swartz.

God bless us, every one.

My oldest sister and her ever-expanding gang – the six children she bore are all grown and fertile – are not rednecks in the way the great unwashed would define it. But they ARE rednecks in the way that America is coming to accept and love this most authentic and all-American backbone of the country.

Who knew that in this new millennium, where third-graders carry cell phones and commuters read novels on electronic notepads, that the modern world would find fascination in the simple life of Redneckdom?

There is beauty and excitement in simplicity, if it’s the right kind.

In the bell-bottomed 1970s and anything-goes ’80s and all points until recently, it’s unlikely My Big Redneck Vacation or Hillbilly Handfishin’ would have made it on TV. America was being told by electronic media that we were too cool for rural.

Of course, we’ll never know if those shows would have made it after 1971, when CBS executives axed “Green Acres” the “The Beverly Hillbillies,” though both were still popular. “Petticoat Junction” and Uncle Joe had been deep-sixed the year before; only “Hee Haw” was left to carry the banner. Not only were Mr. Drucker and Jed Clampett hurt, but so were people like me. American wanted urban shows, we were told; you see where television has gone since.

Now, the thrill is back. Swamp People draws 4.5 million a week; 1.6 million tune in for Lizard Lick Towing.


My friend and former Times sports magnate Nico sent me a note this week reminding me that in two seasons as Louisiana Tech’s starting quarterback, “a guy named Phil Robertson guided teams that went 1-9 and 3-7. In the 1-9 season, the star of the victory at home against Southeastern Louisiana was a freshman named Bradshaw. In their last game together, Robertson and Bradshaw combined for seven interceptions in a 58-7 Southern Mississippi victory at State Fair Stadium to close the 1967 season.

“I guess Robertson's career fell apart after that,” Nico said. “Wonder whatever happened to him.”

Nico was joking, of course. “Duck Dynasty” premiered on A&E Network last week, a show about the Duck Commander’s “outdoors empire,” as it’s been called. The founder of the family business?: steady Phil Robertson, king of cammo, loaded with dough and ducks.

Hello! “Redneck reality TV” never had it so good.

How far might we be from a Redneck Network? A RedNeckwork, I guess it would be.

Rednecks Gone Wild: In the season’s final climatic episode, Jess shoots the big buck that has eluded him all season, fills the deep freeze, then naps a winner’s nap on his front-porch couch.

Redneck Fashion Idol!: In the pressure-packed semifinals, Dickies squares off against Red Wing, Carhartt meets Red Kap.

The Girl With The Chicken-Fried Steak Tattoo: This week the surprise sitcom hit features BettyJo frying truck-stop bacon while she studies for her bar exam. Order up!

Kay’s Hair Here: Between perms and rinses, Kay polls her customers on which special new pocketknife she should get Bubba for their 40th wedding anniversary.

There’s something endearing and patriotic about the resourcefulness of folks who are willing to work at something they love to make honest dollars. I would say it’s inspiring. You’ve got to appreciate people who are exactly what they ought to be.