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Hillbillies & White Privilege

Hillbilly Elegy was released Tuesday on Netflix and promptly shredded by woke critics everywhere.

Based on the 2016 J.D.Vance autobiography of the same name, it tells the story of a poor Appalachian boy who gets himself through Yale Law School. If there’s anything progressives hate, it’s a good rags-to-riches story. It’s dangerous to tell a tale that might inadvertently breathe some much-needed life into the American Dream.

Progressives call the movie “poverty porn” and falsely suggest Vance is blaming the poor for not trying hard enough. Vulture calls it “irresponsible and grotesque” for its “right wing tropes.”

What really bothers the woke about Hillbilly Elegy is that it smashes their racist idea of white privilege. Vance’s book, even more than the movie, is an unvarnished look at disadvantaged, suffering white people (Appalachia includes 25-million Americans spread over a dozen states) facing joblessness, poverty, drug addiction and hopelessness. Millions of these disadvantaged, overlooked whites flexed their political muscle for the first time in 2016 and helped make Donald Trump president.

Progressives who constantly preach “white supremacy” hate the scene where Vance, a white man, flounders at a Yale recruitment dinner, confused by the wine selection, which fork to use, and denigrated by powerful representatives of law firms as a redneck. The woke squirm at Vance’s honesty, because according to leftist tropes, whites are privileged, and never marginalized.

Hillbilly Elegy is the kind of book that rarely gets published and the kind of movie that rarely gets made. It shows a different side of America; a side the left refuses to acknowledge. It suggests oppression, marginalization and powerlessness aren’t restricted to immigrants or certain races. The story calls into question the core beliefs, the largely false beliefs, of progressives.

Their negative reviews are high praise.

GeeMac 8 Nov 25
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And telling people that have power over you, that they are full of sh-t, even when they are, can cause the same outcome!!!!
But, always remember outcomes can be overcome, I am case and point, but that is a whole different story!!!!!
It sounds like the story referred to in this post is another case and point!!!!

Serg97 Level 8 Nov 25, 2020

I think you are confusing class (socio-economic) privilege with white (race) privilege. One need look no further than the "old country" (whatever your European ancestry may be) to find examples of class privilege. Indeed one need not look any further than the 20th century here in the USA. Look at anti-Irish, anti-Polish, anti-German sentiments and policies. If you do a little digging you will find it still going on today.

My point is... just because some white people can behave like total assholes towards other white people does not mean that they can't also behave like total assholes to non-whites.

Humans... and I am most familiar with "white" humans seem to be obsessed with the question, "Who am I/we better than?" Maybe it is some sort of competition. Maybe that's why we have "races."

Void Level 4 Nov 25, 2020

That’s exactly the point. “Race” privilege, defined by progressives isn’t just about race, but also involves an infinite number of other variables, notably class, affluence, education, motivation, discipline, work ethic, physical ability, family influence, and the list goes on and on.

The left usually discusses marginalization and oppression almost exclusively through a racial or class lens, never through a broader human lens.

@GeeMac I agree that there are many kinds of privilege. There may even be an infinite number since we seem to be able to make them up as we go along. But the types based on race have a fundamental difference from most of the others.
The difference is that most all the other variables (as you call them) can be changed, altered, adjusted and overcome with some amount of ambition, hard work, determination, and a fat dose of good luck. I do not mean to say it is easy. Some are in fact quite difficult and the odds are stacked against you by "them" (the privileged) and even by "us". By "us" I mean the people whos class you come from. The ones similarly privileged (or not) as you are. After all, many or most of "us" are also competing with you.
The one thing you can not change is your race. You can change your name, accent, language, clothes, address, education, job, religion... whatever. You can not change the color of your skin.

@Void My OP suggests the woke idea that oppression and powerlessness have a disproportionate impact on select identity groups is both false and dangerous. Granted some groups do suffer more, but race is just one — and not necessarily the greatest one — of a vast multitude of factors.

I agree no one can change race, but neither can one change a physical deformity, a mental illness, a physical disability, a severe cognitive defect, being LGBT, getting older...the list goes on and on.

American royalty like Obama, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Kobe, Oprah, Ali and countless others certainly “overcame” the barriers of skin colour. And regardless of any barrier — according to the famous Brookings Institute study — finishing high school, having a full time job (even entry level) and avoiding having children before marriage is the best way to escape the grinding poverty, which leads to much of the misery commonly — and mistakenly— blamed on race.

The longer we continue with the relentless woke message that race is the root cause of everything that goes wrong, the greater the problem will grow. We need to stop telling kids that the world hates them and they can never succeed.

I have zero confidence that will happen any time soon, because the culture has been so racialized by destructive woke thinking, which in America has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

@GeeMac I don't have much time to respond right now (Thanksgiving and whatnot) but... to be quite honest I had to look up what "woke" means in the context of politics and race. Speaking for myself the simplest solution to the problem seems to me to be to simply ignore it. These things come and go and the MSM seems to get worked up about them a couple times a decade and in the end it makes little difference. The current unrest will eventually calm down.

@Void Happy Thanksgiving! The best cure for being woke is eating lots of turkey.


Looks like its worth a look.

Yes, it does, but I won't be watching it on Netflix.

@KeithThroop good thinking.


wait i thought netflix was woke?

you think the left really think all white people are privileged and can't suffer poverty etc? who said that? sounds like a hilarious strawman argument to me.

bastion Level 7 Nov 25, 2020

If it sounds like a straw man argument, I’d agree it’s from the woke left, yes.

According to most progressive thinking — Robin DiAngelo is the current flavour of the month — whites are racist and enjoy privilege whether they consciously know it or not. Progressive terms like white privilege, white supremacy or toxic masculinity do indeed falsely focus human issues on specific demographics.

@GeeMac Do you really think the "woke" consider dirt poor people to have lots of privilege?

Do you have a quote from someone "woke" like this DiAngelo to back that up?

@bastion you are rational and logical in seeing the distinction between the relative privilege of “dirt poor” whites and more fortunate people. The problem with DiAngelo — and many progressives — is that they don’t make that distinction and they generalize instead. DiAngelo talks about “white privilege”, the “white worldview”, the “white voice”, the “white lens”.

If the woke actually admitted that dirt poor whites don’t have privilege, they’d also be forced to admit that what they call “race privilege” is often more related to, for instance, level of affluence, rather than tone of skin colour. In fact to constantly focus on a concept like privilege only in terms of race is ridiculous, because a seemingly infinite number of other interacting variables is at play in any given situation.

DiAngelo is making a fortune running re-education sessions telling people they are unconscious of their own racism. It’s a completely unfalsifiable and ridiculous proposition.

@GeeMac Do you have a quote of her saying something that backs this up?

@bastion what specifically are you doubting?

Nothing that I’m saying is new. “White Fragility” has been out for two years and DiAngelo appears in tons of YouTube videos.

@GeeMac I'm doubting Di Angelo (or any "woke" person) would say that dirt poor people with appalling standards of living have a high level of privilege.

A quote or two saying this or similar would be good.

@bastion thanks for clarifying. I would also doubt DiAngelo believes “dirt poor people...have a high level of privilege”. That’s silly and absurd. Which is exactly why using broad terms like “white privilege” make no sense.

There is no “white privilege” precisely because of the case you cite.

That’s the point of my original post: Hillybilly Elegy questions the woke dogma of “White privilege” by showing that whites can also subsist in profound poverty, appalling conditions and powerlessness. Misery is not exclusive to any identity group.


I had a feeling this would happen...

KanjaG Level 7 Nov 25, 2020
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