"One class gets the sugar and the other gets the shit"(Fussell, 25) and in American society the
invariably poverty stricken and powerless. Classism is at the core of the problem. The hatred of
the poor is an evil secret of America,
by the ingrained myths of "liberty and justice for all." Americans are taught to believe in a
classless, equal opportunity society. Yet, the facts of poverty, illiteracy and ignorance are hard to
ignore and the reality is that some people have advantages over other people depending on which
they are born into. Therefore, when wealthy people confront the poor a sense of guilt and
superiority merge into the reactionary fear that has manifested itself as racism and classism
through the centuries. Sut
Lovingood, an anti-hero of Southwestern humor may have put it best
when he said of the genteel class, "they are powerful feard ove low things, low ways, an' low
pepil" (Cook, 8).
The working class white has always been an ideal
candidate for this role in society, and mainstream society has revealed their fright. As Jim Goad
explains in his Redneck Manifesto, the "redneck"
stereotype is especially fitting because it fills all the scapegoat requirements: biological
--inbred, less intelligent, unattractive; geographic and regional
differences --trailer parks, rural south, hillbilly; economic differences -- poor, sick, lazy, dirty;
cultural differences-- fundamentalist, superstitious, loud, kin networks; and moral differences--
trashy, racist, violent (Goad, 76).
The development of poor white stereotypes center around literature, comics, movies and
television. These stereotypes are easily created and accepted because the culture of working
whites exists within its own set of values and practices. These values are separate from, not
subsets of, mainstream American society. Within the media section of the site, I will focus on
mainstream society's creation and use of a dichotomous relationship between "white trash" and
"good country folk"; addressing the use of physical and mental descriptions to fulfill the
requirement for scapegoating. The next four sections will deal with remaining societal beliefs
are used to "other" this class. Religion and race will address the cultural and moral dissimilarity
the mainstream, while lifestyle and work will address geographic and economic variance.