Being a Southerner, I am never offended by jokes about the south as long as they are coming from a Southerner. However, as my Mama would have said, “Katie, bar the door,” if some non-Southerner maliciously jokes about the South or rednecks. I don’t take too kindly to those kinds of jokes.
And, you ask, “How do you tell if it is said with malicious intent?”
It has to do with the smirk on their face, or the look that is sometimes referred to as a “constipated look.” The smirk says, “I’m smarter than you.” The constipated look is the one where they appear to be straining hard to be funny, but end up looking like they need to go to the bathroom. Both are just plain mean, and bless their hearts, they know they are dolts.
I received a redneck joke from my son Mike in Arkansas today. I knew when I received this joke that it was one of those, “lets laugh at us jokes.”
I’m always getting this type of joke. People know I like to laugh at myself, and sometimes they come pretty close to hitting home. For instance, the photo Mike sent today showed a guy roasting hot dogs. That isn’t unusual, but he had stuck a hot dog on each prong of a leaf rake. I call that redneck ingenuity, and I don’t see anything wrong with it though it did generate a laugh on this end.
I’ve also received pictures of redneck mobile homes, redneck travel trailers and redneck toilets. I can handle those. What I can’t handle is someone making fun of a Southerner’s speech.
It’s strange how people feel compelled to point out that I have a southern accent. Me? Have a southern accent? How strange! Of course, I have a southern accent. I was born and raised in God’s country - Tennessee (sorry Alabama natives) but y’all don’t have our beautiful mountains, among other things, but I digress. I don’t mind being reminded that I’m from the south as long as the person isn’t saying it as a put down. Too often you see people on TV trying to fake a southern accent, and that gets my Irish blood pumping.
My nicest advice to these TV personalities is don’t. We can tell you’re a fake even if you are 2,000 miles away in a Los Angeles studio. In one sentence, you will be saying, “ah ain’t goin’ there” and in the next, you’ll be talking about cas (cars), cricks (creeks) and drawering (drawing). Come on…I just as soon say ah ain’t as to call my automobile a ca. Don’t believe me? Tune in anytime of the day or night, and there will be someone on there with an accent unless they’ve had their mouths washed with de-accent soap.
The truth of the matter is that everyone has some kind of accent, but some of us have been taught not to point it out. We have come to accept the TV news anchor’s accents as standard, but there is nothing standard about them. They have been trained to have no accent, and it works for them. It doesn’t work for everyone. Even having no accent is an accent of sorts, if you stop to think about it. Who, but a newsperson, talks without any accent? No one that I know.
I like having a southern accent. I am happy I am from the South. But I don’t like it when we are made the butt of jokes. Some think that our form of English indicates a lack of education and polish. I hasten to point out that four years at an Ivy League school won’t make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear as politicians often prove.
So fellow Southerners, if you have an accent and you’re happy clap your hands, stomp your feet and let the world know you’re proud of your heritage. If you’re from the north and you send me a redneck or southern joke, make sure you add a smiley face at the end. That or say, bless your heart before insulting me.
Quotable Quote: “It’s unwise to speak before you think.” Unknown.