The Liberal Redneck Manifesto
Holy shit, y’all! You’re readin’ a book by us. Us. That’s wilder than hill people on mushrooms during a thunderstorm.
We ain’t writers! I mean, we are, but as comedians, we just write jokes usually. You prolly knew that. Maybe not. Well, that’s what we are: traveling joke salesmen. And we kinda figured we’d always be just that (with hopefully a movie or TV show role peppered in). We were happy to live a life of no to moderate fame, eating fried food at three in the morning in a town no one had heard of and fallin’ asleep on floors and in terrible hotels with names like Tanya’s Hideaway Bar and Inn. What’s Tanya hidin’ from? Lord knows.
Then Trae made a video and called himself the Liberal Redneck, and the world sort of changed. Life’s weird.
“Wait. Like an actual book? Y’all tryin’ to address Dixie with a damn book?! Like a readin’ book?!”
Yes. We are. It’s a book about the love/hate relationship you have with your homeland. It’s a book about the South and all its problems, but also all its beauty. We thought it was time to talk about where we’re from with both empathy and tough love—and have some damn laughs along the way. Feelin’ conflicted because you support gay rights but can’t help that you still crave Chick-fil-A? Buddy, we get it. Mad as hell about what the local college’s football coach and the hypocritical local senator said at their recent press conferences? Love buffets but hate yourself after you go? Well, boy, do we have something to make you feel better!
“Is it pills?”
No, damn it, it’s this book! We’re talkin’ about all that’s right about life below the Mason-Dixon line and also all that’s wrong—like the damn pills. Anyone who has grown up in the South in the last thirty years understands, whether they’ve ever thought about it or not, that there’s a central dichotomy that permeates every aspect of Southern life. Even if you don’t know what half them five-dollar words mean, if you’re from here, you get what we’re talkin’ about. A divide underlies the actions and words of every native Southerner. And no, it ain’t “Ford versus Chevy.” The internal conflict that has defined what it means to be from the South is that of “Pride versus Shame.” For example, jean shorts. We invented ’em. They hit. They also somehow don’t hit. Proud. Also ashamed.
To those outside the South, the “shame” side of things is easy enough to understand. After all, there’s plenty to be ashamed of down here (the Stars and Bars, Jim Crow, Florida Georgia Line, etc.). And we feel that way a lot. Duck Dynasty? Shame! Truck nuts? Shame! Institutional racism? Hell, double shame! We get it, is what we’re saying. The shame is well founded. Spending all your extra money on a houseboat rental and a keg over Labor Day weekend hits. But for whatever reason, when your in-laws find out, you feel a little guilty—like you ort not done that. That’s what being from here is like, kinda.
And many native Southerners live almost entirely on the shame side of the scale, leaving home the first chance they get, going out of their way to lose their accents and hide where they’re from. It’s a lot
easier to resist ordering biscuits and gravy if you move to Connecticut and become gluten free, after all. These people who’ve left behind their Southern home, sympathetic though their stance may be, are not helping. If everyone who’s worth a damn just leaves as soon as possible, then what’s left? How will things ever get better? Sure, the demolition derbies and meat shoots (that’s where you shoot guns to win hams) will kick more ass without those pussies around, but race relations probably won’t improve too much.
Still, the people on the shame end of the scale are much easier to understand and deal with than those on the pride side of things. And these people are legion down here. After all, how could they not be, when everyone else just runs away? For those of you outside the South, when you think of “rednecks,” “hillbillies,” “hicks,” or “Southern Baptists,” these are the people you’re picturing. They fly the Stars and Bars high from the back of their jacked-up trucks, the flagpole rising up between the bumper stickers on either side of the back glass with phrases like “Drankin’ Beers and Shootin’ Deers” and “Honk If I’m Payin’ for Your Health Care” (because we all know the country’s entitlement programs are propped up by the tree-trimming and pumping-gas-at-a-boat-dock industries). Well, we’re ready to dive in on what exactly it is they’re proud of. It can’t be the 2.2 GPA they maintained at one of the worst public schools in a state ranked forty-ninth in education. Is it their ability to pound fourteen beers during the ball game and still drive home?
No. There actually is a lot to be proud of down here. And that’s the part that’s so hard for outsiders to understand. They easily grasp the shame, but the pride leaves them dumbfounded. But, hell, fact is, we do some things better. College football? Check the scoreboard. Whiskey and bourbon? Shit ain’t close. We celebrate as good or better than anyone else in the whole country. Hell, that’s half the reason why we get so patriotic—when lovin’ America and supportin’ the troops
means gettin’ hammered on a lake and shootin’ fireworks at each other’s faces, it’s hard not to feel like you are in the best country on earth. We know how to party.