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