Off-topic rant: SNL’s “Appalachian Emergency Room” skit

Off-topic rant: SNL’s “Appalachian Emergency Room” skit.
I live in Nashville and have been south of the Mason-Dixon line since 1979. They’ll never let me be a southerner down here, but that’s okay. In my mind, I have the t‑shirt. A few weeks ago, I went after Bill Maher and what I felt was his very unfunny view of southerners, and now I have a few words for Saturday Night Live writers.

In “Appalachian Emergency Room” this weekend (a recurring sketch), we were taken into an obviously hicksville hospital where patients in stereotypical rural, redneck, southern garb had various afflictions. One man had a can of “Axe Bodyspray” stuck up his butt. Ben Affleck’s character had a ferret gripping his privates with its mouth. A woman had her hand stuck in a Tampax dispenser. But it wasn’t the situations that were intended to provide the humor. In dress, speech and mannerism, the laughs were provided by the hillbilly characters. Funny stuff, eh?

It would be easier for me to laugh at this kind of humor, if the concept was universally applied to all groups. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. What makes white, rural southerners immune from the laws of political correctness? These skits ridicule rural southerners in a way that would be viewed as ghastly to the moral rightness party, if they involved any other group of people. How about “Mo Bettah Emergency Room,” where we poke fun at urban blacks? Better yet, let’s do “Queers and Dears Emergency Room.” Or why not have a little good-natured ribbing with our Jewish friends in “Semite Emergency Room?” We could always do “Reservation Emergency Room,” couldn’t we? Or Chink, Spic, Wop, or Polack Emergency Room?

What makes the word “hillbilly” acceptable where “nigger” is the sin of all sins?

I lived and worked in Hawaii for two years, a place where racial humor is widely practiced and accepted. It was funny across-the-board, because there was no majority picking on minorities. Everybody was treated equally. If such an influential show as Saturday Night Live wishes to make a statement that ethnic or regional groups have funny quirks, then how about applying it equally? It’ll never happen.

From my perch here in the south, I am continually astounded at the pompous and arrogant manner in which educated northerners have fun at the expense of rural southerners, when they’ve never met one, much less found themselves in the midst of the rural south’s gracious hospitality, warmth, self-reliance and family ties. To broadbrush an entire population group by mocking its extreme is just sick, and it’s the kind of thing entertainment producers and writers avoid with every group except white, rural southerners.

We poke fun at ourselves down here, like all groups do, and redneck comedians are among the funniest on the planet. But — like Richard Pryor, who found wonderful humor in his own culture — they’re making fun of themselves. It’s very different when those outside the group do so, especially from a visible platform such as Saturday Night Live. Then, it comes off as dehumanizing.

It’s bigotry in its ugliest form, because it hides behind the mask of fun.


  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you! As a lifelong Southerner, I get very sick and tired of people making fun of my speech, many of whom don’t know the meaning of half the words I use but consider themselves superior because they pronounce their long i sounds more sharply than Ah do. If I used one-tenth the meanness in going after any other “group,” I would be tarred and feathered. PC standards should be applied equally or not at all.

  2. As a born and bred Southerner from North Carolina, who has lived in and traveled to 48 states, Canada, and Mexico, I have always been disheartened and often angered by the use of Southern/Appalachian sterotypes by the “entertainment industry” and others. Why is it that Southerners are fair game when no other group is? Could it be because we’re strong enough to bear the weight of such tasteless media trash when no other group is? Or could it be part of some ill-conceived plot to keep the Southland down? Or is it perhaps some twisted form of jealousy based in the ‘percieved notion’ that Southerners have it somehow better than the rest? I have no answers, only questions and the frustration that comes with being victimised by bigotry at it’s worst. Thank you for pointing it out. When we Southerners point it out we just face more of it. ‑Billy

  3. Nashville Banana says

    First I would like to say that I am 100% Southern. My white ancestors go back to the 1700s here. My american indian, well that goes back several thousand.
    Some of y’all are not going to like what i say, because i don’t agree with the author.
    Second, I would like to say that I am proud of my southern heritage and I don’t plan on EVER losing my Southern accent or manners, for that matter.

    Saturday Night LIve pokes fun at everything and everyone. They DO poke fun at other ethnic groups, including blacks and hispanics. Don’t y’all remember the “corn chip nail tips” commercial where these very black women were eating their edible long nails? I can’t think of any other examples off the top of my head, but I do recall them making fun of feminine men, gays, lesbians, mexicans, blacks, muslims, drunk girls.

    It’s all a part of the show.

    Lighten up people!!

  4. Neopresent-new says

    Good day to all

  5. CablithtitO says

    Is this gonna end someday??

  6. dead_drederS says

    Priveet!! Medveed!!!

  7. lavalgeInvili says

    hi everyone, i am new to this forum 🙂

  8. sheporehype says

    I’m the only one in this world. Can please someone join me in this life? Or maybe death…

  9. P.s. If you think the words “nigger” and “hillbilly” are even comparable, please ask yourself why there was never a show called “The Beverly Hill-Niggers!” Yeah, because “hillbilly” isn’t even CLOSE to being as offensive.

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