The ‘Enlightened’ vs. The ‘Rednecks’
Posted on 02.14.09 by Danny Glover @ 4:13 pm

A couple of weeks ago, a supposedly “enlightened” family from San Francisco and a clan of “rednecks” from Missouri voluntarily subjected themselves to each others’ ways of life for an episode of the ABC reality show “Wife Swap.” The clash of cultures brilliantly illustrated the contempt heaped upon rednecks across the land.

The rednecks in the show, Alan and Gayla Long and their kids, had their bad moments. I’m thinking in particular of when Alan Long grilled his temporary wife about her patriotism and derided housework as “skirt work,” and when Gayla Long called her temporary husband’s British accent “annoying.”

But the sophisticates in the show, Stephen Fowler and Renee Stephens, had far more bad moments. They were so bad to the bone that the rare excesses of the Longs were barely memorable.

Stephen Fowler was the by far the worst. He was such a jerk that even an elitist publication like the Silicon Valley gossip blog Valleywag spoke ill of his boorish behavior.

“He was phenomenally cruel to Gayla, giving her the silent treatment for much of her stay,” Valleywag noted. “When he did talk to her, he managed to insult, among dozens of groups, fat people — the fat people who pay his wife money to make them not fat.”

ABC currently does not have the infamous episode online. That’s a mistake because it would drive a lot of traffic to them. But if you want to see Fowler and his wife in all their obnoxious glory, Hot Air has the show posted in a series of five video clips. (The clips strike me as a clear violation of ABC’s copyright, so go see them quickly because I suspect they’ll be pulled eventually.)

In case it’s pulled, here are some of the verbal gems of condescension Fowler spouted during the show:

  • “The main differences between her family and our family: They believe in being fat; we believe in being fit.”
  • “I think the worst thing that James [Fowler's son] could do would [be to] tell me that he wanted to move to Missouri. What is wrong with the United States in the middle of the country is that people, frankly, are just like you [Gayla Long]. … Uneducated, simple and without a clue about what’s going on in the world. You are undereducated, over-opinionated, and you’re overweight. It’s not a good combination, Gayla.
  • Speaking to his children: “From tomorrow, we have the pleasure of pretending we live in some podunk town in the middle of Missouri. … If you live in a podunk town, your worldview is going to be very restricted. I don’t see how someone could be offended by the term podunk town.”
  • Speaking to Gayla: “I probably earn more in a week than you do in a year. … You read that so well. Congratulations. I didn’t know you could read.”
  • “Midwesterners are so predictable.”
  • Speaking to Gayla after she jumbled the word “agenda”: “Oh, agenda. OK, that’s a big word for you — given that your two languages appear to be bad English and redneck.” When Gayla cursed at Fowler after he mocked her, Fowler turned to his daughter and said: “She’s a very rude lady, isn’t she? But that’s OK, she doesn’t have an education.”
  • “I object to the National Anthem because it is humiliating and objectionable.”
  • Speaking to Gayla: “Look, you dumb redneck. I’ve already told you once.”
  • His take on paintball as recreation: “For a lower-class family that has young boys that have aspirations perhaps to join the Army. So if that’s the extent of your ambition as a young man in your family, I can see how this is a perfect fit. We need folks like your family to feed it.”
  • Speaking to Alan: “You know, I just spent the worst week of my life with your wife. So if you expect me to bring enlightened joy into this meeting. You’re off your trolley path.”

This closing slam by Fowler against Long gets to the heart of how the elitists of the world come to look down their noses at we rednecks: “I’ve never had any serious interaction with anyone with that level of intelligence before. I think she was out of her league. Not every day she’s going to come across someone like me.”

The heart of the problem is that Fowler and his ilk live sheltered lives surrounded by a circle of friends who think they are better than everyone who doesn’t score in the 99.9 percentile on their college entrance exams. The redneck Longs proved themselves to be far more enlightened. They took to heart Renee Stephens’ lessons about staying healthy and gettin’ educated.

Fowler, on the other hand, showed no remorse for his behavior when the families reunited. And while his wife looked slightly embarrassed by his continued outbursts in her presence, she wasn’t embarrassed enough to scold him or keep her distance.

Their behavior at the reunion and in the post-show taping several days later makes the apologies of Fowler and Stephens, issued after an online outcry against them, suspect in my book.

Filed under: Culture and Hatin' On Rednecks and Human Interest and People and Rednecks and Spotlight


  1. [...] between real folks like Foxworthy who appreciate the everyman and judgmental people like, say, reality television flop Stephen Fowler and Manic Mother. addthis_url = [...]

    Pingback by The Enlightened Redneck » Rednecks: ‘The Backbone Of Society’ — May 27, 2009 @ 10:09 am

  2. “I think the worst thing that James (his son) could do is to tell me that he wants to move to Missouri. What is wrong with the United States — people in the middle of the country frankly (laughs) are just like you. It’s amazing - uneducated, simple and without a clue about what’s going on in the world.” ~ Stephen Fowler, Jan. 30th episode of “Wife Swap”

    During both world wars, it was mostly the “clueless Americans” from working class families throughout the middle of the country who gave their lives and bailed out Britain and France.

    After the end of WW II in 1947, the Truman Doctrine followed by the Marshall Plan pledged American financial aid for a generous program of European economic recovery. This is why Europe and Britain were able to rebuild and afford good social programs and national health care — while we go without!

    And international class bigots like Fowler dare to insult those same Americans?

    For the past 65 years, Europeans have enjoyed longer life expectancies and higher living standards on the dime of poor working class American’s tax dollars that benefited everyone else — except Americans.

    It was the tax dollars of working class Americans that funded the financial aid package to rebuild European nations after WW II. Who does that smug prick think paid for the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan, which made social benefits and socialized medicine affordable for Britain and France? The Tooth Fairy?

    Every day, 122 poor uninsured Americans die for lack of access to healthcare, 1 in 5 foreclosures are due to unaffordable medical bills, 1 in 4 bankruptcies are due to unaffordable medical bills and extremely high prices on medicine in the US.

    Stephen Fowler and the rest of Britain enjoy generous social programs and safety nets, made possible because of poor working class Americans whose taxes funded Europe’s economic recovery post-war. And for this, we are put down for our weight problems, our inability to afford university educations, healthy foods, and being “militaristic” and “fascist.”

    If it wasn’t for our military and our poorer people who have been deprived of opportunity and healthcare while our taxes funded the rebuilding of Britain (after our taxes paid for our military to save Britain’s butt), Stephen Fowler would not have had the luxury of growing up with access to low-cost high quality medical and dental care so that his advanced education and opportunity to achieve economic success would have been possible. His parents would not have had a nice middle class life due to the security that comes with having access to health and dental care so that he could go to a prestigious university. And it would be Stephen Fowler, not the majority of struggling Americans, living in a “podunk town” with nothing. Britain would have remained a pile of rubble and ended up as Hitler’s outhouse.

    Comment by Jacqueline S. Homan — October 31, 2009 @ 6:18 pm

  3. [...] Posted on 12.31.09 by Danny Glover @ 2:36 pm Nothing says anti-American “elitism” like condescension with a British accent, and Stephen Fowler mastered it in his appearance on “Wife Swap.” His performance earns [...]

    Pingback by The Enlightened Redneck » Elitist Of 2009: Stephen Fowler — December 31, 2009 @ 2:36 pm

  4. [...] no “class.” You mean like the cultural elites who make fools of themselves on reality [...]

    Pingback by The Enlightened Redneck » Elitist Of The Week — February 20, 2010 @ 12:14 pm

  5. Hi everyone, Happy April Fool’s Day!

    A woman was thinking about finding a pet to keep her company at home. She decided she would like to find a beautiful parrot; it wouldn’t be as much work as say, a dog, and it would be fun to hear it speak. She went to a pet shop and immediately spotted a large beautiful parrot. She went to the owner of the store and asked how much. The owner said it was 50 bucks. Delighted that such a rare looking and beautiful bird wasn’t more expensive, she agreed to buy it.
    The owner looked at her and said, “Listen, I should tell you first that this bird used to live in a whorehouse. Sometimes it says pretty vulgar stuff.” The woman thought about this, but decided she had to have the bird. She said she would buy it anyway. The pet-shop owner sold her the bird and she took it home. She hung the bird’s cage up in her living room and waited for it to say something.
    The bird looked around the room, then at her, and said, “New house, new madam.” The woman was a bit shocked at the implication, but then thought, “That’s not so bad.”
    A couple hours later, the woman’s two teenage daughters returned from school. When they inspected the bird, it looked at them and said, “New house, new madam, new whores.” The girls and the woman were a bit offended at first, but then began to laugh about the situation.
    A couple of hours later, the woman’s husband came home from work. The bird looked at him and said, “New house, new madam, new whores; same old faces. Hi George!”

    Happy April Fool’s Day!

    Comment by Kelle — April 2, 2010 @ 4:38 am

  6. Personally, I would have hit him. I’m a redneck, born and bred southern. A true GRIT. However, I am in the Army,I do have a master’s degree in Biology, and I do chew. I am in the 99%. And I love showin this jackwads what a true southern can do. Yee-Haw ya’ll keep the rednecks alive.

    Comment by Sheila-Jean — February 7, 2012 @ 7:00 am

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