This is the first for Mountain Dew. It's usage of the hillbilly stereotype is more than apparent. Mountain Dew was originially conceived as something that could be mixed with moonshine.
Ma and Pa Kettle
Ma and Pa Kettle are a fictional couple that first appeared in "The Egg and I," a novel by Betty MacDonald. When Universal films created a film based on the book, audiences, especially those in small towns, loved the couple so much that Universal created a series of movies from the couple. Small town viewers especially connected with the quasi wisdom the couple seemed to possess. Ma and Pa Kettle live a charmed life. Though they are not well eductaed, things just sort of work out for them because of their wholesome qualities. Interestingly, the characters Ma and Pa are actually from the Ozarks. The Ozark and Appalachian hillbilly sterotypes have often merged and blended, but both are based on mountain rural people.
The Beverly Hillbillies
The Winston Cigarette Company paid for advertising from multiple different television shows during the 1960s. The most famous example of this was the first two seasons of The Flintstones, which featured an ad for the cigarettes in the opening credits. Here, the Beverly Hillbillies are portrayed with the cigarettes. Interestingly, R J Reynolds was from Patrick, Virginia and founded Winston Cigarettes in Winston Salem, North Carolina, both of which are in Appalachia.
This series of commercials takes advantage of the hillbilly image, portraying the hillbilly as being a backwards individual who really doesn't understand the cultured world. Hillbilly bread was created by Robert L Roush, the founder of Roush Bakery Products. Roush was from Beaver, Pennsylvania, which is in the the Pittsburg area. The bread was inspired by the Beverly Hillbillies.
Minnie Pearl was a character created by Sarah Colley. Sarah Colley was classically trained at Belmont College in Nashville, Tennessee. Minnie Pearl became famous appearing on the Grand Ole Opry. The character hailed from Grinder's Switch, Tennessee, a small town. Grinder's Switch is a real town near Centerville, Tennessee.
Ernest P Worrell
Jim Varney was a classicly trained actor from Lexington, Kentucky. His most famous character is Ernest P Worrell. Seen here in an advertisement for WDBJ-7, a CBS affiliate based in Roanoke, Virginia, Ernest displays a distinctive accent that would seem to indicate that he is from Appalachia. This advertisement is one of Jim Varney's earlist portrayals of Ernest P Worrell. Ernest P Worrell was popular in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. The character became the basis for a series of successful movies in the 1980s.
Virgil Sims is another Jim Varney character. This song is a little less ambiguous with its stereotypes than the videos starring Ernest P Worrell.
This advertisement is for a mattress store in Western, North Carolina. It was one of the most recent videos featured in this guide. The lady in this video could be mimicking Minnie Pearl.
John Boy and Billy Big Show
The John boy and Billy Big Show is a radio show recorded in Charlotte, North Carolina. Most of their bits concern how unintelligent John Boy is, as well as rural life. The radio show is broadcast nationwide.
James Gregory's comedy concerns rural American life. He grew up in a rural area outside of Atlanta, Georgia, which puts him close to Appalachia. Much of his comedy concerns his crazy relatives, a topic, which while universal, is often associated with the stereotype of the Appalachians.
Donnie Baker is a ruccuring character on the Bob and Tom show. He is a crass fellow, and is often trying to sell a boat. He speaks in a thick accent which seems to be southern in origin.
Jiggle Belly is a doll on the Cartoon Network television show "Aqua Teen Hunger Force." He displays many of the hillbilly stereotype attributes, including a jug with XXX on it and a gun. Another doll in the show refers to him as a "backwoods retard."
About This Guide
This guide is composed of YouTube videos that contain hillbilly stereotypes. This is by no means a comprehensive depiction of hillbilly stereotypes in visual media. There were several films that our Student Curatorial Associate, Travis Rigg, had wanted to include but was unable to find online or otherwise. Student Curatorial Associate Travis Rigg selected the videos, researched the context, and edited this guide in 2013.
Comments from Curator
This guide is one student's exploration into the hillbilly stereotype as found on YouTube. Curatorial Associate Rigg said to me, "if it ever appered on film or tape, someone has put it on YouTube." We decided to see how true this is for the hillbilly stereotype. This guide represents a few days of work searching for and attempting to contextualize some of these video clips.
Appalachian Studies scholars have done considerable work with the hillbilly stereotype in recent years. Studies have explored the topic from several angles. It has deep roots in general rural, bumpkin, or "rube" stereotypes that predate the Appalachian region. It also seems that some kind of highlander stereotype is found in many places around the world. One can dissect it into many variants with Ozark, Appalachian, and Western mountain man versions all existing, but often blending.
The Appalachian Stereotype is also complex. It often exhibits both backwardness and wisdom, laziness and hardwork, and a stubborness is at times a weakness and at other times a strength.