Recently, my oldest daughter Jennifer posted a thing on her Facebook page alleging that the town we lived in when she was growing up was the #5 Redneck Town in the state of Missouri.
Lots of people get Rednecks confused with Hillbillies, and that’s understandable. Both terms are stereotypes and who worries about splittin’ hairs when you’re using stereotypes.
To understand the difference, you have to remember that regions Rednecks live in remain a feudal society. The bankers, used car dealers, payday loan officers, and gun store owners are the Lords. Hillbillies are the Serfs. They farm the land, run the convenience stores, and otherwise do the essential labor needed to keep things going. The Rednecks are like the crops, which are harvested by the gun stores, payday loan offices, used car dealers, emergency waiting rooms, and so on.
Another way to appreciate the difference between Rednecks and Hillbillies is that Hillbillies have understood and used core life technologies like hunting and fishing for hundreds of years. Rednecks have problems with these things. They love guns, and are passionate about firing off bullets. But they have problems bringing game home for the table because their weapon of choice–the AK-47–turns a rabbit or deer into meat pudding, which is hard to transport unless you use 2 gallon Ziplock bags. Fishing is also a challenge for Rednecks. They usually quit early, because they eat the bait.
Unlike Hillbillies, who are retiring, Rednecks like attention. They like to get drunk, grab their girlfriends by the ass on the dance floor and stomp around until they bump into another Redneck. The two Rednecks then get into a bloody and protracted fistfight, and their girlfriends take whatever change is left on the table and the rest of the six-pack and leave. Often with a Hillbilly.
Hillbillies also enjoy drinking and dancing, but they usually do it at family gatherings, accompanied by skilled musicians on banjos, fiddles, and autoharps. Many of their dances can be traced back to those in vogue in Continental Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. Clogging, for example, has its roots in the Minuet. Some say.
Hillbillies have a far richer and diverse lifestyle than most recognize. They are skilled at hunting, fishing, auto repair, and whittling, and they have their own version of Terducken, which is a coon, stuffed with a possum, stuffed with a squirrel.
Tragically, the Redneck population in Arkansas and Southern Missouri is declining. The cause was a mystery for years. Then they hired a professor from Indiana University who came out and did an in-depth investigation. He discovered the principal cause of Redneck decline could be traced to an outdated highway regulation.
Many secondary and county roads in Southern Missouri and Arkansas are narrow; therefore, many bridges that span creeks and small streams are a single lane. These bridges are mandated by the State Departments of Transportation to be identified with a sign that says, “One Lane Bridge. Yield To Oncoming Traffic.” Unfortunately, one of these signs is posted on each end of the bridge. When two Rednecks approached a bridge from opposite directions, both stop and wait for the other to pass. Being stubborn, neither will go first. It is, in fact, a part of the Redneck Code that giving in and crossing a one-lane bridge first is a sign of weakness. Eventually, they become dehydrated and weak from lack of nourishment. County Road Crews make regular sweeps on back roads and collect the debilitated Rednecks, but sadly, for many it is too late.
The Indiana University Professor who solved this tragic mystery made numerous recommendations to the State Highway Department, and pamphlets containing helpful information were distributed across the region in taverns, gun stores, and hospital emergency rooms. But the Redneck population continues to decline, and it is estimated that by the year 2030, the culture may become extinct.
Ironically, Hillbillies would profit from the demise of the Redneck, since they could develop a variety of niche markets, such as whittling Redneck dolls, for sale in local tourist shops. Such dolls are destined to become pricey collector’s items, going for big bucks on Ebay. They will become a cherished conversation piece on many a Yuppie’s wet bar, but if you want to see a live Redneck you should probably visit Southern Missouri soon. You will need a good local Hillbilly guide, of course. My business number is 1-555-SEEBUBBA.