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Monday, December 23, 2013

The Fall of Duck Dynasty.......Is this the End of the Redneck Renaissance?


Over the past few years America has been in a love affair with The South.  Southern settings and themes begin to pop up in top fictional TV shows like True Blood and the Walking Dead.  Even more rampant is The South influence on reality television.  For a long while reality TV tended to focus on dysfunctional self indulgent celebrities.  In recent years this has shifted.   With shows like Swamp People and Call of the Wildman rural Southerners have been put front and centers.  The South has been very "in".  We were truly in a Redneck Renaissance which I previously talked about HERE.

The first crack in the armor may have been the Paula Deen "scandal, which I touched on HERE.  The media delighted in the downfall of the once proud Queen of the South when the shocking revelation came out that she said the N-Word once in the 80s.  It was a major blow to the South, as one of its main ambassadors was raveled to be a racist.  Which is one of the greatest taboos in modern culture.  I think that public crucifixion of Miss Deen was wrong.  I felt like it gave people an opportunity to pigeon hole Southern people into the box that they like make.
 

Recently another major Southern Icon "came out of the closet" as a supposed bigot.  This man is Phil Robertson, star the what is easily the most popular show in the Redneck Renaissance Movement.  Phil got his start in the duck call business and made a fortune.  After becoming a popular figure in hunting culture he and his family made a surprising splash in their reality show "Duck Dynasty".  The plot of the show revolves around Phil's son Willie trying to grow the family business while the rest of the family goofs off and extolls Redneck virtues.  Phil is portrayed as a laid back sagely elder.  At the end of every episode Phil prays with the whole family.  The prayer segment is somewhat interesting as he explicitly talks about Jesus in a mainstream show.  I always thought this was pretty cool, as it allowed the family to be themselves without whitewashing anything.   Interestingly enough, the family had made a few public statements complaining about the A&E network editing out a lot of content about their Christian faith, as the family is deeply Christian.


Things were recently split wide open when Phil did an interview with GQ magazine.  While this is a little odd in and of itself, it was the content of the interview that shocked people.   Phil made comments about homosexuality being akin to bestiality.  In addition he said that during the Jim Crow era South he felt that blacks were happy and he did not see them mistreated.

Let's start with the anti-homosexual comments.  First of all, I am a ardent supporter of gay rights.  I feel that homosexuals should be given the same rights as everyone else, including the right to marry.

Now, am I surprised that Phil Robertson things homosexuality is a sin?  No.  He is a 70 something self professed Redneck who grew up in rural Louisiana.  Phil is an evangelical Christian and such beliefs are held by a majority of such Christians.  I have to ask.  Is anyone actually shocked?

I live in a state where the majority of people voted to outlaw gay marriage.  Its sad to say, but aren't Phil's supposed eccentric believes actually mainstream?  Just look at our laws.  Phil's beliefs are shared with a lot of people.

I could not disagree with Phil any more on this subject.  I do think that this does not make Phil a bad person.  Most people have something unsavory about them and reality TV is bound to dig up something bad about someone.  No one is all good or all bad.

As for the racial comments Phil made, I think these were made more out of ignorance then hate.  Clearly racism was a problem in the entire country and Phil must have been blind to miss it.  I do hate to see the Robertson's get a bad rap on the racial issue.  Phil has an adopted grandson who is half black and an adopted granddaughter who is Asian.  I do not think this man is a racist, just a little unobservant.

A&E has suspended Phil for his comments, which has angered quite a few fans.  The Robertson family has stood behind Phil's comments and refuse to apologize.  So suddenly, a good clean honest fun show has become a political wedge, which is really unfortunate.   I feel this development, much like the Paula Deen incident has allowed people to both Pigeonhole and politicize Southern Culture.

Now, while the Robertson family has previously been beloved and seen in a positive light, there is another TV family who has been the constant source of hate and ridicule:  The Honey Boo Boo Clan.


Which I had the honor of meeting.

Ironically, the family that everyone loved to hate and knock are ardent supporters of gay rights.  They have been outspoken with their support and June and Alana even attended the GLAAD awards this year.

Maybe we should not judge people so quickly.


The Carpetbagger

Please feel free to email me at jacobthecarpetbagger@gmail.com
And don't forget to check out my Flickr Photostream and my Youtube Page

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Carpetbagger on Youtube!

Hey everyone.   I have put together the first Carpetbagger video.   We discuss Southern legend Harrison Mayes.

Enjoy!





The Carpetbagger

Please feel free to email me at jacobthecarpetbagger@gmail.com
And don't forget to check out my Flickr Photostream and my Youtube Page

Monday, December 16, 2013

Put the Krampus back in Christmas


Santa Claus: we all know the guy.  He's big, he's fat, he's jolly, he wears an unmistakable red suit and delivers presents to good children.


When you take a look back at the evolution of the Santa Claus mythology.  You'll notice that a great deal has evolved over the years.   Santa didn't always travel alone.  He used to have a posse that traveled the world with him ensuring that children were good.  While Santa Claus liked to use positive reinforcement in rewarding good children with presents, his friends were less forgiving and liked to use negative reinforcement and handed out beatings to bad children.

The first lost member of Santa's Posse is Zwarte Piet, or Black Peter.   Piet was Santa's right hand man, or personal servant.

From Wikipedia

He's also a white man dressed in horrifying black face minstrel makeup.  Maybe a black stereotype serving as a personal servant to fat rich white man isn't a great idea.  Maybe the less said about this the better.   Let's move along.

The most remarkeable member of Santa's super team was the beast called Krampus.


Krampus is a straight up hairy demon with a disturbing long tongue.  Krampus is based German folklore (where else?).  He takes corporal punishment to a new level.   He beats children with sticks and chains.   Instead of carrying presents in his sack he carries naughty children.  It is not disclosed what he does with the children.


For some reason, at one period in time sending Krampus based Christmas cards was perfectly acceptable, despite the fact that they are more horrifying then anything you would see for Halloween.  The term "Grub Von Krampus" means "Greetings from Krampus".


Let's take a look at these terrifying cards and remember:  Krampus is not Santa's nemesis, he is his friend.


Here is business casual Krampus.....


Here he is in the Krampusmobile...







Possibly the most disturbing card I have seen is this one of Krampus carrying a dead child around with a pitch fork.  Remember, this is a CHRISTMAS card.


And there is this super surreal card, where Krampus is roasting hearts with faces.


I actually wanted to make some of my own Krampus cards, integrating Krampus into some classic Christmas moments........Here is the only one that is not too offensive to show.....


Merry Christmas, ya'll.


BTW, all classic Krampus cards are vintage cards and the images do not belong to me.

The Carpetbagger

Please feel free to email me at jacobthecarpetbagger@gmail.com
And don't forget to check out my Flickr Photostream

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

This Year's Christmas Parade Circuit


Last year I talked about the amazing spectacle that is small town Christmas Parades.  This year I was only able to hit two Christmas Parades (my record is 4 in one season).  We attended half the Asheville, NC Christmas Parade before being frozen out (the mountains can be surprisingly cold in the winter) and the parade in my home town of Waynesville, NC.



So let's take a look!

We have a Christmas Kangroo........


And the normal barrage of Nativities.....

We have a tree trunk nativity......


A manger with no wheels....


And an kickass semi nativity.....


A monster truck plowed through as fake soap sud snow fell on Waynesville........


And we had our normal endlesss stream of corporate mascots, such as the Geico Gecko and his friends.....


The Chrysler Hampster......


Some lesser known mascots such as the State Farm Insurance Bear.....


...The Wells Fargo Dog Man......


And who can forget, militant Spongebob.....


Or this weird Bee thing.....


Santa forgoes his sleigh to drive a comically small bus.....


And what would a parade be without someone picking up horse turds?


Its good that they keep things subtle.....

Of course this year, I actually jumped out of my seat, ran right into the middle of the parade and photographed what may be the greatest sign I have ever seen in the history of Christmas parades.


Merry Christmas, Ya'll.

The Carpetbagger

Please feel free to email me at jacobthecarpetbagger@gmail.com
And don't forget to check out my Flickr Photostream

Monday, December 9, 2013

The President's Hall of Fame and the Citrus Tower


As winter drags on I'd like to take some more time talk about some of the wonderful tourist stops in the lovely state of Florida.  Last time I visited the state I had the honor of visiting this unique little attraction:  The President's Hall of Fame.

So, what is the criteria for being inducted into the President's Hall of Fame?  Its not made entirely clear, but my understanding is that there are roughly 43 members. 

My dedication shined through as I drove 45 minutes to find the Museum closed, and still took time to drive back the next day.

Opening in the early 1960s, The President's Hall of Fame was previously known as "The House of Presidents".   From what I understand it was a super-low tech version of Disney World's Hall of Presidents. 

Disney's Hall of Presidents
Instead of antimatronics they used wax figures and a tape recording.  It probably didn't help that the actual Hall of Presidents is 45 minutes away.  The fact that this attraction  is still standing in the direct shadow of Disney World when so many others have fallen is a testament to its charm.


In the 1980s. The Hall was purchased by artist John Zweifel who had a long standing fascination with the White House.  In the 60s John and and his Wife Jan would create an accurate 1/12 scale recreation of the White House.  Over the years they had been given surprising access to the entire White House to make sure that every detail was accurate.  Every room is meticulously made to match the details of the actual White House, down to the curtains and furniture.






John has turned the President's Hall of Fame into a permanent home for his creation, which was previously on tour all over the country.

The Museum is no longer a non-robotic version of the Hall of Presidents.  With the Miniature White House as a center piece, the Museum has kept the wax figures, but also has incorporated various presidential artifacts.

The exterior of the building is impressive in its own right, as it is built to resemble the Lincoln Monument.



The exterior also includes a photo op miniature version of Mount Rushmore.


I was fortunate enough to meet John Zweifel white I was visiting the Museum.   John said he took pride in the label of "Roadside America", but noted that he did take offense to reviews on the internet that described his museum as dusty and claiming that the wax figures where leaning over.  I talked with John about the other Roadside Attractions I had visited.  He asked me what my favorite attraction was and I told him it was "The House on the Rock" in Spring Green, WI.  I was surprised when he told me that he had actually created some of the miniature dioramas at the House on the Rock.  Here is John posing with a Wax Figure.....of himself.....


The figures were done well, with the exception of this horrifying Ghost Faced Hillary Clinton....


And this Teddy Roosevelt who appears to have his glasses attached to his face with caulk....


For some reason a lot of the president's appear to be bowing.  The don't look like they are falling over, it actually looks like they are engaged in group prayer.


The Hall of Fame is complete with every president, including Barack Obama.


The Museum has even been updated to include several animatronics.  Including this towering Lincoln that spooked me when it started talking out of nowhere. 


FDR gives his trademark speech with the push of a button.


My favorite presidential artifact is one of the original Florida voting boots from the 2000 Presidential Elections.


Now, I don't care what your political views are, but this thing is damn confusing, just take a look.


Seriously, where am I supposed to stick my stylus?

The Museum also has sideshow legend Tom Thumb's carriage.  Which has nothing to do with president's, but its so awesome, we'll let it slide.


That's a TV playing a  DVD of Ronald Reagan doing stand-up comedy next to the carriage.

On your way out, make sure that you get your fortune taken by the animatronic George W. Bush.

 
But wait!  There is more.  While it is not affiliated with the presidential Museum, another classic Florida looms overhead.


That giant monolith is know as the Citrus Tower.


The tower was built in 1956 as a way to allow tourists to observe the beauty of the local Orange groves.

The tower is in walking distance of the Hall of Presidents.  The bottom area looks like it used to be full of shops, but they are all empty now.  There is a make shit gift shop in the center of the building made of temporary partitions smooshed around the elevator.  You can ay an admission fee at this shop to go to the top.


The elevator takes you straight to the top, as there are no other floors.  Once at the top you are released into the observation area.  You can see 35 miles from the top of the tower, sadly, you cannot see a single Orange Grove as they have all been plowed over to make room for condos.


You can get a bird's eye view of the President's Hall of Fame though.


Also, there is a wishing well, where not only do you get to make a wish, but you get to listen to your penny plummet 226 feet.


Man, I love Florida.

The Carpetbagger

Please feel free to email me at jacobthecarpetbagger@gmail.com
And don't forget to check out my Flickr Photostream