Any understanding of the Southern United States is necessarily incomplete unless you realize that there's a lot of irony and self-satire going on in some places. Of course, Southerners are serious, too damned serious, when it comes to topics such as football and barbecue. However, even some irony comes into play even with those institutions. Many of the folkways have this self-effacing irony to them, like we're really not taking ourselves seriously. Indeed, that's the key to Southern identity: being able to be amused at Southern stereotypes.
Take the trashy bit of irony in lawn decorations: the plastic flamingos. It is not unknown for people with otherwise impeccable lawns and landscaping to place one or two of these pink plastic avians on the lawn; perhaps as an aww shucks statement lest people think they're full of themselves.
And that Possum Drop in western North Carolina that PETA got so hot and bothered about a few years ago? In fact, the possum was ceremoniously lowered with the New Year, treated royally up to then, and no possums were hurt with that bit of local tomfoolery.
Southern dialogue sometimes has a mild irony to it: "It takes two men and a boy to look at her," "That dog don't hunt," "Whoever does that doesn't love the Lord and Southeastern Conference football." Not to mention "Bless his heart." That comment carries an implication of "he's so dumb as dirt he can't help himself."
A few years ago an owner of a garden statuary store displayed a number of nude garden statues that were not moving fast enough, so she dressed them in little bikinis and they started selling. Prudishness? No, acute saleswomanship!
Jeff Foxworthy redneck jokes are enjoyed nowadays within the South. Few necessarily associate the term redneck with dermatitis, historically one of the symptoms of pellagra. Some people enjoy playing redneck too.
And sometimes local festivals feature redneck games such as axe-throwing, watermelon seed spitting, the mud pit belly flop, the armpit serenade, and tossing the hubcap.
Also, there are redneck beauty contests, featuring contests dressed in Daisy Dukes and exhibiting redneck talents. Contestants try to combine beauty with a subtle irony. Here's a comely contestant for the one in Woodstock, AL.
So it always pays to take Southerners acting stereotypically Southern with a grain of salt. There's a lot of leg-pulling going on.
Hawaii Photo of the Day
5 hours ago