Monday, November 18, 2013

When Did White Trash Become the New Norm?

Lord have mercy, Charlotte Hays has a new book out "When Did White Trash Become The New Normal?"  It was only a matter of time before someone addressed this subject.

The New York Post recently featured this article regarding the subject, submitted by Ms. Hays.


Charlotte is also the co-author of one of my all-time favorite books..."Being Dead Is No Excuse," which I wrote about in this post.

"Rampant irresponsibility, shameless greed, and bumptious disregard for other people have broken out of the trailer park and into the country club; you now encounter White Trash Normal at high-end grocery stores and posh garden parties." ~Charlotte Hays

From the behavior of those on the Jerry Springer show to the Kardashian clan, nothing is sacred anymore.  Tackiness is all around us today.  Per Ms. Hays, "You no longer have to be White Trash to do White Trash things.  Even highly educated, well-to-do people are behaving like White Trash!  Tramp stamps and skank stamps are all the rage now and even mosquito-infested swimming pools in the back yards of foreclosed McMansions are no longer a sign of embrarrassment to some."

The book includes recipes for White Trash cocktails, appetizers, sandwiches, entrees, side dishes, and desserts.  I must admit that I turned down the page for the Redneck Riviera Iced Tea and the Spiked Church Punch...gonna put those in my recipe file.

The author also includes a White Trash Timeline--Some milestones on the road to White Trash Normal.  Starting in 1936 with the first Tampax ad {don't even get me started on these advertisements for unmentionables} and bringing us up to present day 2013--a CBS production of the Two and a Half Men musical "Who Needs Charlie Sheen?  You're a Douche!"

Anything goes now.  What used to be shameful is now put out on parade for everyone to see.
The term "White trash" has been used in the South for a long, long time.  In the movie "The Help," Jessica Chastain played the part of 'Celia Foot' and Octavia Spencer played her maid 'Minny.'  When Celia asked Minny why none of the other ladies in town liked her, Minny answered her in a blunt yet somehow comforting tone "They don't like you 'cause they think you white trash, Miss Celia."

Hattie McDaniel, who played 'Mammy' in "Gone With The Wind" used the term "White trash" several times during the movie...referring to field hands and such--all the time telling the O'Hara girls not to act like "White trash."

My friend Miss Joy gave me this cookbook many years ago...it contains recipes for all my favorite Southern comfort food--White Trash Cooking!

While I do not have this book, I definitely have attended a couple of "White Trash Gatherings!"

So what are your thoughts?  Discuss. 

15 comments:

Mid-Atlantic Martha said...

Well I can tell you that in the small town where my grandmother lived if someone was identified as "white trash" (only said in a hushed whisper) that was the END of them socially for about the next four generations!

Leiah said...

My sister and I were trying very hard not to be ugly so we used our Cajun heritage and said someone was "debris de blanc." To this day, we still use the term.

And I have the White Trash Cooking cookbook, too!

Monique Lehnhardt said...

I look for signs of rebellion against the trashy bad girls of the media. There are glimmers but the lowest common denominator is portrayed as normal too many times. I've declared our home a Kardashian free zone. Fight the tide and sponsor a young girl for cotillion. You'll feel better for it.

Monique Lehnhardt said...

Declare a Kardashian Free zone and sponsor a young girl for cotillion. You'll fight the tide of ugliness and feel better for it. Nikki

Lobster Meets Peach said...

I don't like the term "white trash" because there are some very nice and charming people that where just not taught manners but their hearts are good. And then their are those who where taught manners and know better yet chooses to act ugly.

But what do I know I am just a Jersey girl living in NoVa:)

Rachel S said...

I love "debris de blanc"!

Rachel S said...

I love "debris de blanc"!

Rachel S said...

I love "debris de blanc"!

Simone Lynch said...

This and the article by the NY Post came across highly judgmental. I've come across people who by social standards would appear to be white trash but have hearts purer than those who judge them. As someone with a West Indian background, I can attest to the fact that Americans alone have habits that would not fly in the West Indies. But we are all raised differently. Only God can judge, and I bet when that day comes, it may not be the people who identified and turned their backs on those they consider "white trash" crossing through the gates. It may be those who were judged as white trash.

Michelle said...

I believe the historic reason the South is more sensitive to the "white trash" subject is because so much of it's early founding by Europeans had a good deal of younger sons of nobility who came from England to make their fortune (since they couldn't inherit not being the oldest). This founding and the subsequent wealth that followed with the use of slavery economic system created a stratified class based social order that is still seen today. Yet, I believe we have to differentiate between being poor and "white trash". Rick Bragg does such a nice job of teaching in his books that the stereotypical plumber with his pants that don't fit well is not necessarily white trash. Pat Conroy also takes a hard look at class in Prince of Tides. A hard worker in a factory or otherwise that goes home to a trailer every night is not "white trash" in as much as they are a person most likely not born into privilege. A perception of a bank balance does not insure either way. Currently in this country there are not many ways to have social mobility. Small business loans barely exist, college is only getting more expensive and there are fewer ways to gain a leg up as in the past. Top CEO's make a ridiculous amount compared to their workers and union protections (which were never strong in the South) are only holding by a string around the U.S. Those people in pop culture who represent "white trash" tastes are often seen as representative to people who have fewer choices than in the past(I'm thinking of Larry the Cable Man for example). I believe the 1960's may have been the strongest time for the middle class but sadly these days such is not the case anymore. Even with 2 incomes many families can barely make it. So many families have lost their homes to foreclosure. None of this makes these people "white trash". It may be making them feel better to see people on TV making fools of themselves. Manners are not dependent on bank balance and neither is compassion. Let's look to any neighbor in need as an equal and try to make sure that we are supporting lawmakers who are working for the common good.

The Lady Caroline said...

As an English Lady can you lovely Southern Ladies explain tramp stamp and skank stamp to me please.

Miss Janice said...

A tattoo on the lower back of a female.

The Lady Caroline said...

Thank you Miss Janice, I thought it must be something involving a tattoo. I still don't understand why women feel the need to have them, but that is just my personal opinion.

Donna said...

Boy howdy, Miss Janice, this post brought some interesting responses. I view the term "white trash" to be a certain mindset. Economic standing alone does not make a person debris de blanc. (Thanks to Miss Leiah for the term!) I did some sewing for the daughter of a very wealthy shopping mall magnate and she would be considered by some as white trash. One cannot buy (or legislate) good manners, taste, charm, or consideration for others.

Kathie Truitt said...

I really don't care for the term 'white trash'. But with that said, I have always believed being 'white trash' is a choice. I don't think it has anything to do with economic standing - I've known people who have lived in trailer parks that have class, taste and manners. And yet I've met people who live in mansions that are absolutely awful. It all depends on how you treat people and how you conduct yourself.