Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music

Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music

Paperback - 2014
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In her provocative new book Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music, Nadine Hubbs looks at how class and gender identity play out in one of America's most culturally and politically charged forms of popular music. Skillfully weaving historical inquiry with an examination of classed cultural repertoires and close listening to country songs, Hubbs confronts the shifting and deeply entangled workings of taste, sexuality, and class politics. In Hubbs's view, the popular phrase "I'll listen to anything but country" allows middle-class Americans to declare inclusive "omnivore" musical tastes with one crucial exclusion: country, a music linked to low-status whites. Throughout Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music, Hubbs dissects this gesture, examining how provincial white working people have emerged since the 1970s as the face of American bigotry, particularly homophobia, with country music their audible emblem. Bringing together the redneck and the queer, Hubbs challenges the conventional wisdom and historical amnesia that frame white working folk as a perpetual bigot class. With a powerful combination of music criticism, cultural critique, and sociological analysis of contemporary class formation, Nadine Hubbs zeroes in on flawed assumptions about how country music models and mirrors white working-class identities. She particularly shows how dismissive, politically loaded middle-class discourses devalue country's manifestations of working-class culture, politics, and values, and render working-class acceptance of queerness invisible [Publisher description].
Published: Berkeley :, University of California Press,, [2014]
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9780520280656
Branch Call Number: 781.642 HUB
Characteristics: xiv, 225 pages :,illustrations ;,24 cm


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Nov 10, 2015

Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music is an excellent book for those who want to think about and be challenged by what they are reading. Here, Nadine Hubbs examines "class" in America, specifically how the middle class maintains its identity by continually separating itself from working-class values, as exemplified in the often-heard response to the question, "What kind of music do you listen to?": "Anything but country."

In this academic study, Hubbs looks at working class and rural values, showing how they are reflected in the lyrics of country songs, and how they often contrast with middle-class values. For example, working people often have a live-and-let-live attitude (my words, not hers) toward their neighbours. Hubbs points out, with considerable documentation, that until recently, it was among working and rural people that "gay" people found acceptance, not among the middle class. This is certainly true to my own Canadian experience. Until recently "out" homosexuals or others living outside traditional gender roles lived primarily in poor parts of town, and their bars were not in middle-class districts. As well, I've seen a benign acceptance of homosexuals in rural dictricts, though not without some joking and teasing. Yet, as Hubbs points out, media continually carries the message that so-called "rednecks" are homophobic. She shows us reasons that middle-class people perpetuate such stereotypes of working-class and rural people, and why in the upward mobility of the gay-rights movement, "queer" people have joined the attack.

The main flaw in this book is that Hubbs, of working-class origins herself, sometimes ennobles working people at the expense of the middle class. For instance, she deals with the idea of the working man who "inserts" during male sex defining himself as not being homosexual, as an example of different sexual definitions among the classes. I'm afraid that I'm with the middle-class in finding such an attitude hypocritical. Furthermore, in my lifetime, I've known of brutal attacks on gay men by working-class, as well as by middle-class, males, though Hubbs does not acknowledge that such situations happen.

A person used to light reading might find this book difficult, but any thinking person who occasionally likes to read the sort of challenging and stimulating book that you had to rush through too quickly in a university course should enjoy poring over Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music.


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