Appalachia: a big subject

Regarding the recent hubbub around the stereotyping of mountain people – specifically the Molton cartoon ["Pigdemic," May 6] and the eloquent commentary by Ms. Wallace ["Fighting Back," May 6] on Bill O'Reilly's typically ignorant statements about Appalachian folk: I am a mountain person, born and raised, and I agree with O'Reilly's comment that Appalachian children should move to save themselves.

I (and a large portion of my peers) certainly felt it necessary for survival and continued growth in late adolescence to move away from these hills, as retirees and dot-com nouveau riche descended like strip-mall vultures on this quiet, affordable area. I felt betrayed by those who profited from selling their families' lands and history (especially when some of these folks brayed the loudest about "Yankees ruining our mountains"). [But] I concur with Bill on probably only this point. Appalachian children should leave here, find the world, and experience new people and places. See how much respect and love it rewards you with for this beautiful gift we have here.

The problem with Mr. O'Reilly's statement about Appalachia is that this mountain chain runs essentially the entire Eastern Continental Divide, and represents a huge amount of his constituency. We in WNC are not the only mountain people. I have friends from northern Georgia to southern Maine who are Appalachians. Let him make his comments. It's just Bill O'Reilly.

Truthfully, Molton's "Pigdemic" cartoon personally did not offend me any more than O'Reilly's comments. I believe that most funny jokes are at someone's expense, and playing upon stereotypes has always been an effective, if juvenile, method of humorous commentary. Employed correctly, usually with irony and intelligence, it can be entertaining.

That's where Molton's cartoon goes awry – and not merely in this particular instance. It's just never funny. I don't know anyone who finds Molton's cartoons anything more than an irritant – a bit of sand on the cornea. The true insult is to my intelligence, not my hometown. Opening the Xpress every week and being spat upon by its insularity and impertinence drives me close to anger, especially when I see far funnier work only periodically run in the very back of the paper.

I have been a reader of Mountain X since its inception and find it to be a useful and informative (if sometimes not terribly reliable) source of local news and happenings. It's just a slap in the face to start every Wednesday eyeing a lackluster caricature with a local name/place/event push-pinned to it, and a ham-fisted one-liner plopped on top like a turd on an ice-cream cone. Someone out there (besides Mr. Molton) may actually find them mildly amusing, but they bring a taste of bile to my mouth that is definitely not from the overpriced downtown coffee in my mug.

— Jake Gardner
Asheville

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5 thoughts on “Appalachia: a big subject

  1. travelah

    ” It’s just a slap in the face to start every Wednesday eyeing a lackluster caricature with a local name/place/event push-pinned to it, and a ham-fisted one-liner plopped on top like a turd on an ice-cream cone”

    lol .. this is great. Molton, that’s the sum of your work, a turd plopped on top of an ice cream cone … just plain classic.

  2. bah

    This letter knocks it out of the park in its execution. However, the fact the letter is that good does not mean that Molton is that bad. Molton’s work is solid, and he’s been producing good work for a long time. Who doesn’t have a mis-fire? It’s only indicative of a mis-fire. The pile-on comes around for everybody, and this time it’s Molton turn. As the “debate” goes on, I sort of admire him for calling everyone in the region of his residence a bunch of pig-f*****s. Just to get it out of your system once, you know?

  3. FredMorrison

    “It’s just a slap in the face to start every Wednesday eyeing a lackluster caricature with a local name/place/event push-pinned to it, and a ham-fisted one-liner plopped on top like a turd on an ice-cream cone.”

    Great writing here Jake. I’d like to see you write a column for the Xpress. The root problem with the Xpress is it’s over-reliance on yankee transplant “journalists”. I’d love to see a well-spoken local person write here. It certainly beats people who pronounce “traveler” & “car” with an “ah” at the end and hold ignorant stereotypical attitudes about Asheville and the South.

  4. travelah

    fred, do you have to culture this ignorance or is it a natural thing? If you spent any time on the west bank in New Orleans, you would find many multi-generational folks who drop the hard “r” and roll their words with “ah”. I have found a similar trait in Charleston as well.

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