Sunday, August 07, 2005

Rebelling against 'The Dukes of Hazzard'

“Just the good ol’ boys,
Never meanin’ no harm,
Beats all you never saw
Been in trouble with the law
Since the day the were born”
From the “Theme from The Dukes of Hazzard (Good Ol’ Boys)”
By Waylon Jennings

OK, I admit, when I was in junior high, I was a fan of the TV show “The Dukes of Hazzard.” Back then, my primary obsessions were pretty women and fact cars, because I had never experienced either. And “The Dukes of Hazzard” had both.

I mean Catherine Bach in those cut off shorts that are now known by her character’s name Oh my God. And those tied-up tops that accentuated her breasts. A boy could sprain something just watching her on that show.

Yea, the car was pretty cool too. Although I wasn’t a big Dodge Charger fan, and the fact that it was orange didn’t do much for me either. But hey, at the time I wouldn’t have kicked it out of the garage for leaking oil.

To be honest, I don’t remember much about the show. Even though I do, from time to time, break out my Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane impersonation when I’m happy about something. I do his little tittering, half laugh half cough thing that sounds sort of like “Kew, kew, kew. I love it I love it.” Eat your heart out
James Best. Here is a link to an audio clip of Best, but it’s not quite the delivery of the line I was hoping to find, but you might get the idea.

Well, the impression doesn’t work to well in print, but trust me, I can nail it if properly inspired. Most people look at me like I’m fricking losing my mind if they are subjected to it, and truth be told, I may be.

But, I won’t be looking to relive my youth, and that crush on Daisy Duke by seeing
“The Dukes of Hazzard” movie that hit theaters over the weekend. Not that Jessica Simpson isn’t crush worthy. And it’s not that I don’t think Willie Nelson would be a good Uncle Jessie, or that Burt Reynolds wouldn’t be a hoot to see as Boss Hogg. And Johnny Knoxville might even be able to pull off Luke Duke if there are any scenes that require the character’s scrotum to be stapled to his leg (or is that a Steve-O bit?).

No, I just don’t have any desire to see the film. One reason I don’t really want to see it is because of that damned rebel battle flag painted on the hood of the car. Back when the show was on TV I didn’t have any aversion to that flag. I probably even thought it was cool. Years later, when I was in college, on my first trip to the South, I even bought one of those Confederate flags.

I was on a road trip with a friend I met on a summer job. He was from Texas, and I rode from Corvallis back to San Antonio with him at the end of the summer. We stopped in one of those tourist traps along the highway and I stocked up on some authentic Texas souvenirs, including a set of horns, a Texas flag and a rebel flag.

The friend I was riding with gave me no end of shit for buying the rebel flag. I was stunned, and obviously naïve. I didn’t know what the big deal was. I thought it was a cool symbol of the South and my visit there. He attempted to inform me that it was a racist symbol and decidedly not cool to have.

To be honest I didn’t get it. It was many years before I would get it really. I grew up in a very small, very white, town. I didn't know many people of color. What I knew I learned from TV and from the stereotypes, jokes and stories told to me by friends.

I was as naïve as the came, and a real redneck. I fit the Dukes’ demographic to a T as a kid, and far too late in to my adult years.

My not seeing this movie is no grand boycott. I haven’t seen a movie in a theater in probably about a year, maybe even longer. So, Warner Bros. won’t miss my money.

I’m just disappointed that in the year 2005 the makers of this movie would choose to paint that damn flag, which is a symbol of hate and racism no less vile than a swastika or a burning cross, on the hood of a car for yet another generation to think it is a cool thing on a cool car.

I get annoyed every time I see some jackass, particularly here in the Northwest, or even when I was in Southern California, with a rebel flag on a license plate frame or a window sticker or any other type of decoration on his car. But then, I remember myself as a young man, and how naïve I was about what that flag stood for, and I hope that perhaps it is another unenlightened soul that will someday realize that it ain’t cool to support a symbol like that.

The flag itself is not the problem. It is the racist thoughts and actions that do the harm. If nothing else, that banner can sometimes make the assholes easier to spot.

If they’re just good ol’ boys who don’t mean any harm, that’s one thing. But if the intent is to proudly proclaim their desire to return to a time and a place where people owned other people as property, or who think one race is inferior to another, then that is a problem.

Sometimes I’m proud to be a good ol’ country boy. And sometimes I’m ashamed of it. Fortunately I’ve outgrown the Dukes of Hazzard, or at the very least the flag emblazoned on the roof of the General Lee. I wish Hollywood had too.


GRT said...

Today's NY Daily News Online carries a story of a black man being attacked by whites wielding a baseball bat.
The flag, in and of itself, of course, is not the problem. A lack of serious discussion with children at an early age is the problem.
Your friend gave you the first lesson; someone who had the responsibility of socializing you at an early age should have done that much sooner.
The problem is endemic. My father "nigger"-ed until the day he died--in the arms of a black woman who was giving him his morning bath.

Ghost Dog said...

See, they shoulda made "Airwolf" into a movie. The helicopter was black *and* white.

grace said...

watch this shit... heh. made me laugh so hard:

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