Saturday, November 9, 2013

When Did White Trash Become Normal?

“Society crumbles when it takes cues 
from the underclass” 

~ Arnold Toynbee

by Charlotte Hays 

NEW YORK POST - November 2, 2013

Mike Thompson and June Shannon from the hit show "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo"

When Snooki, whose talents include getting sloppy drunk and throwing up on camera, made Barbara Walters’ “Ten Most Fascinating People” list a few years back, one could only ask: Was Octomom not available?

Last year, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” which features a cornucopia of social ills, was TLC’s highest-rated show, attracting more cable viewers than the Republican National Convention, which had the misfortune to share the time slot with the charmers from Georgia. The show’s matriarch, June Shannon, has four daughters by four men, one of whose names she can’t recall.

White Trash is the new normal — and you don’t have to tune in to reality TV to rub elbows with pathologies that once stayed put in Skunk Hollow. White Trash Normal has invaded every nook and cranny of life, from table manners, to dress, to money management.

Remember when bouncing a check was shameful? Now apparently it’s shameful for banks to charge overdraft fees.

Students of Arnold Toynbee, the English historian, will recognize what is going on here. In a chapter of his “A Study of History” entitled “Schism in the Soul,” Toynbee argued that it is a sign that a society is disintegrating when it takes its cues for manners and customs from the underclass. He describes such societies as being “truant” to their own values.

Toynbee is the guide to what we see all around us today.

We modern philistines tell ourselves that rejecting the customs and conventions of a stuffy, old elite will release creativity and bring about a renaissance. Nothing could be further from the truth. According to Toynbee, self-expression replaces creativity when disintegrating societies look downward.

Aspiration is replaced by complacency. Shame vanishes. Any criticism becomes “haters gonna hate,” or the White Trash motto: “It don’t make no difference.”

White Trash signifiers have changed of course — the foreclosed McMansion with the mosquito-infested swimming pool has replaced the rusting tractor permanently bivouacked on cement blocks in the front yard. But it’s the same general idea.

Obesity, the product of a lack of discipline, sloppy dressing, loud and intimate cellphone chats broadcast to a captive audience and foul language nonchalantly uttered in the ATM line are all forms of this “self-expression.”

Pre-White Trash, physical intimacy was reserved to private places. Now it’s reserved for the subway. You no longer have to live in a one-room shack to learn the facts of life early. Just walk down the toy aisle at Toys “R” Us for a sexpot Bratz Doll.

Children who see daytime television, broadcast in public areas, are inevitably treated to Jerry Springer reruns. How do you explain “Honey, I’m a Ho,” or “Transsexuals Attack” to a tot? Oh, wait, the tot explains it to you.

Tattoos are form of self-expression that have moved from gangs and prisons to the mainstream.

A 30-something scholar with a respected organization in Washington, DC, recently showed up at a fancy dinner in a little black cocktail dress, her shoulders extensively inked. Further sign of the impending apocalypse: She is a tattooed Chi Omega, once the Southern snob-appeal sorority. My young friend wore a “bespoke” tattoo, which means it was designed in consultation with an “artist.” In my mind, it bespoke volumes.

People in all walks of life used to put forth effort not to be taken for White Trash — in contrast to people today, who risk hepatitis to ape the decorative styles of prison gangs.

Not being White Trash wasn’t a matter of money. It was purely behavioral.

When did we decide that elastic waist bands, convict-inspired fashion and swearing on a cellphone were authentic ways to express individuality?

If we read our Toynbee, things may be even worse than we think. In Toynbee’s view, it’s up to the elites to save a civilization. They must become once again vigorously creative (think: great art, not twerking on TV) and worthy of imitation.

But how to get there from here? We could try saving our admiration for what’s really admirable. So let’s quit pretending that there’s anything charming about stripper-themed fashion and financial irresponsibility. All we have to lose is our inner Honey Boo Boo.

Bring back manners, bring back aspiration, bring back responsibility, heck, bring back the man in the gray flannel suit. We miss you.

Charlotte Hays is the author of “When Did White Trash Become the New Normal? A Southern Lady Asks the Impertinent Question” (Regnery Publishing), out this week


  1. When Did White Trash Become Normal?

    I can't say definitively.

    However, the first I noticed the practice of "dressing down" on the job was during the Clinton Presidency. It was during that time period (1996-1997) that I found myself working for a school that promoted "Dress Down Fridays." Or maybe they called Fridays "Casual Fridays."

  2. It's no accident that the mediocre, the mundane and outright evil are enshrined, worshiped even. It's simply the culmination of a long process. The cost of which is yet to be paid by a world that has been suckered into this sham.

    It's become more evident over time that the selection of Barrack Obama as President is another huge step in arriving at the determined destination. Too many people that have know him years previous to the launch of his moonshot of a political career have either not said anything of have been silenced, one way or another for divulging the emperor without his clothes, so to speak.

    Here's another recent addition to the collection (from his so-called high school days in Hawaii:

  3. These disgusting phenomena go hand-in-glove with the points I tried so desperately to make related to the article on NOO YAWK TAWK and other hideous, uncouth variations of the language.

    "LOW" is not necessarily "STUPID," many low class people are in fact very intelligent, but even when it's very bright and creative, "LOW" is still LOW -- i.e. vulgar, uncouth, undesirable and something a properly ambitious individual ought to do his best to overcome -- as so many have dine very successfully in the past.

    If you remember the advent of Marlon Brando playing STANLEY KOWALSKI, you should understand EXACTLY what I mean by the term LOW.

    For the record "LOW" is not to be condemned, or treated with cruelty. It's more to be pitied than despised, but if Civilization is ever to advance again, "LOW" must be OVERCOME with "HIGH" or we shall revert to "apehood."

  4. A third of one percent of the population tunes in Honey Boo-Boo (many of them due to a morbid voyeurism) and it's all going to hell.

    Or maybe the election of Obama is the demarcation?

    I'm surprised yo aren't going on about the 60's.

    If it were up to FT, we'd all be in museums staring at baroque English portraits of boring swells staring out showing you how rich they are.
    I blame Chardin and Turner.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Not Even As Dust Beneath Thy Feet Am I Worthy to Be!

    And He Walks With Me
    And He talks With Me
    And He Tells Me I Am His Own,
    And the Joys W Share
    As We Tarry There
    No Other Has Ever Known

    Vododio-do! Vododio do!

    Twenty-three-skidoo and Poo Poo Pa Doo!

    Radio Poppa, Please Turn Me On

    Awl I Want Faw Kwithmith Ith My Two Fwont Teeth!

    C'mon a My House, My House a C'mon.

    How Could You Believe Me When I said, I Love You, When You Know I've Been A Liar All My Life?



    Rock Around the Clock

    Dr. Ruth Westheimer

    The VAGINA Monologues

  7. There's no delicacy nowadays. No consideration for others. Refinement's a thing of the past! Manners are dead!

  8. It certainly looks that way, Jez, if one takes one's cues from the enemedia and the Icons of bad Taste who run shape the culture through the dissemination of the increasingly vile Popular Culture.

    My point in posting these articles is that we have been DELIBERATELY led astray by nefarious forces bent on weakening and demoralizing is by perverting our value system. The ultimate motive behind all this is decidedly political. Weaken the moral fiber of a people and you may conquer them far more easily.

    Most people are born to be followers not leaders. When leadership becomes corrupt or demented the people follow in that direction. Most are never aware of how they have been betrayed by their OWN sad, sick desire, based on Envy and Spite, for a less strenuous, more indolent existence paid for by "Someone ELSE."

    It's sort of a "Peter Pan Forms an Alliance with the Pied Piper" syndrome.

    THINK about that, and you may be able to catch my drift, even though our thoughts usually run along parallel lines, as I've said before numerous times.

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  10. Trash is trash. Color is not -- nor should it ever be -- the issue.

    Human beings of any variety were all created by God in His image and likeness, should never be regarded as "trash." Their BEHAVIOR, however, is another matter altogether.

    "Poor White Trash" is an old southern term devised by white people who liked to think of themselves as superior to -- and separate from -- the commonest, vilest, most obnoxious elements in the white community.

    The now-taboo term "nigger" was not always used derogatorily, but after the horrors of Reconstruction it took on the entirely pejorative context it bears today.

    By your standards, RR, the proper term for "Black Trash" would be "Niggers." What that REALLY means is dark-skinned people of African ancestry who behave boorishly and exhibit thuggish characteristics. It is NOT a term that should apply to ALL members of the Negro race many of whom are fine, highly intelligent upstanding citizens who've made great contributions along the way.

    Decent people don't use the term publicly anymore, because they've bullied into submission by the PC Brigade.

    Seize control of the LANGUAGE and you've taken control of the PEOPLE.

    Liberal-Progressive-Communists think this is a laudable achievement. Conservatives see the grave anger in it. That does not make Conservatives inherently bigoted or viciously prejudiced against all black people.

    These fine distinctions too easily get lost in the furor surrounding these issues -- a constant state of incoherent RAGE it is in the best interests of the LEFT to keep blazing. When we conservatives join in the Feces Festival, we not only lose our dignity, we lose our credibility.

  11. Did you catch my quote from The Private Life if Henry VIII? (it's a film your avatar constantly reminds me of)

  12. Sorry, Jez. I don't think I did.

    My avatar is a portrait by George Bellows of a fellow artist named Waldo Pearce, who came from the state of Maine -- a place my ancestors helped settle c. 1630. Waldo may very well be distantly related to me since his people and mine emigrated here from England in the same time frame.

    I bear an uncanny resemblance to Waldo. Long time friends of mine from way back found this portrait in a San Francisco museum around the time we had our fiftieth high school reunion -- now four years ago already. They nearly fell on the floor at seeing "me" gazing down a them from the wall of that museum, and couldn't wait to tell me about it, and sent a copy of the portrait forthwith.

    Perhaps both Waldo and I are related to Henry VIII, probably n the wrong side of the sheets. In any event I hope not, because Henry was one of the most odious creatures in the Pantheon of Odium. A deeply unpleasant man to put it mildly.

    At any rate, Henry was much too big around, and was dead at 56, I believe. I am nearly 73, and better proportioned than that, though hardly an Adonis. ;-)

  13. Lol at the reunion story! By the way if you haven't, you should watch the Charles Laughton film, which is magnificent (and probably bears little or no resemblance to the historical King, who imo could have given Stalin some competition.)

  14. Here is the comment Radical Redneck removed. I place it back here so others may see specifically what it was I responded to above on 11/10/13 at 11:47 AM.

    "And what about Black Trash such as Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson,and all the other race baiters. Why not expose these frauds, who only shows up for money and if the shooter is white! And Trayvon Martin's girlfriend Rachel Jeantelle that obnoxious, uneducated, dishonest, ignorant waste of space who was the Queen of black trash!"

  15. And yes, Jez, I have seen Laughton as Henry VIII. I'm a great fan of Charles Laughton from his pathetic-heroic performance as Quasi Modo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, through his touching portrayal of Rembrandt, which I've always found superb, his villainous-venomous roles in such diverse films as Anthony Adverse, Jamaica Inn, The Big Clock, and The Paradine Case, his comical charm as Oscar Wilde's Canterville Ghost, His supremely funny-but-touching portrayal of Sir Wilfred, the irascible-but-good-hearted defense attorney, in Witness for the Prosecution is partocularly memorable. Laughton as Sir Wilfred coupled with his wife, Elsa Lanchester, as the irritating, but sincerely devoted, long suffering nurse, whom Laughton continually abuses in a most endearing fashion makes the film the gem that it is, and far surpasses any excitement or intrigue generated by Agatha Christie's famously ingenious plot.

  16. I like Laughton, but have not yet seen Witness for the Prosecution -- I'll keep my eyes out for it. Thanks.

  17. Not seen Witness? Astonishing -- especially for an Englishman.

    The play may still be running for the tourist trade in the West End for all I know.

    It's a very old movie now. I think it was made in the late 1950's. It's a wonderful 'set piece' -- great entertainment. Not to be taken seriously, of course, but some of the performances are marvellous. I imagine you'd enjoy it. The dialogue between Laughton and Lanchester is well worth the price of admission alone.



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