Thursday, August 9, 2007


Hi-Fi Stereotype

“And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds,
and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our
God hast punished us less than our
iniquities deserve and hast given us
such deliverance as this;”
Ezra 9:13

When John Boorman directed
Ned Beatty to drop his pants
and squeal like a pig for
local actors pretending to be
some crazed mountain men,
dirty, bent with bestiality
(“If there were ever any
degenerate red-necks,
they are these two”),
did they think that
somewhere in those
twisted hills,
those hollows
of American darkness
crawled the real thing,
toothless crackers,
hillbilly inbreds
whose sole desire
was to gleefully molest
unsuspecting city folk,
young men who just wanted
to canoe a little white water?

No Shucking The Corn,
no Old Joe Clark,
just wicked crackling,
sharp cutting chords,
banjo strings plucking
in the background,
over the rapid’s roar.
As the water carried them,
they paddled urgently,
with fearful and tense bodies,
peering into the forest’s edge,
surrounded on both sides
with the unfamiliar, therefore evil.
You know he’s coming for you,
Lucifer of the mountain laurels,
Beelzebub of the brambles,
while Eric Weissberg
picks his way through
brand-new Pioneer
surround-sound speakers.
I never knew a banjo could make
such a harrowing sound.
Paddle faster.


Mike said...

Welcome to our humble site, David. Glad you decided to join us here.

Wow! No holds barred in this piece. lol I think it is still the image much of America, if not the world, holds of our homeland.

But we know the truth and that's all that really matters in the end. The truth will out....

Sometimes I wonder if this image is not a blessing in disguise, as it keeps a lot of the 'ne'er-do-wells' away from our quiet communities. There are better places for them to be than in our towns and hollers. I know I don't want to be the one who has to answer to the law for their lack of manners.

The fact of the matter is that mountain culture is not simple or backwards. Actually, it is quite complicated and diverse. I have lived in and around that culture all of my life and there is much about it I don't and probably never will understand. But it is not contingient upon my understanding to exist as a truth. I don't have to understand how a nuclear submarine works either to know that it does.

I personally don't care what image the world holds for my heritage or my culture. That doesn't cost or make me a dime either way. How they do things in the big city is not applicable here. It is just not the way we do things. And that works the other direction as well, I suppose. I just don't want a strange culture thrust on me against my will because someone from somewhere else think they know what is better for me. They haven't a clue what I need or want.

I guess it all boils down to the old adage, "When in Rome...".

Emily B said...

Welcome! I have to admit that when I first started reading, my blood began to boil. I wasn't sure where you were going. I thought we might just have to have a "come-to-Jesus meeting" right here on the blog. . . sometimes the stereotypes really tread on that last nerve, you know? Many thanks for challenging how hill foks are viewed!

Mike said...

Excuse Emily's spelling, David. She just gets so excited when she is on the verge of speaking in tongues. rofl.

David Wayne Hampton: said...

Thanks for the feedback! and I didn't mean to upset you, Emily :) I wrote this poem in college at Appalachian State after taking a class called Hollywood Appalachia. Rather than focusing on the struggle and reckoning of John Voight's character as I think James Dickey intended in his novel, Director John Boorman decided in the filming of the movie to make the rape scene the crux or main focus of the storyline. And since then, "Deliverance" and "Squeal like a pig" has been the catch phrase or punchline for many a stereotypical joke. I was taking a chance in hopes that readers would catch the satire.

Mike said...

I caught a lot of ribbing in the Army for my hillbilly brogue and I guess, without a doubt, I heard about every "Deliverance" and "Squeal like a pig" joke there is. But give the devil his due. I rose in rank quicker than most of my contemporaries and then there was black hell to pay.

He who laughs last, eh? :D