Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Hank Jr. on Fox
(Hank Williams, Jr.)
This is pretty funny in many ways. Of course it's funny at one level that Fox News actually got upset because Hank Williams, Jr. trashed Mr. Obama. Must be the nuance meter was set on 7 and Hank ran it up to 13 or something. It's not like Fox News doesn't insinuate that Obama is Hitler, Stalin, Jomo Kenyata, et al., every day. It's not like Fox News didn't carry the Glenn Beck show until fairly recently. Where's Claude Rains when we need him.
On the other hand, Mr. Amato's piece in crooksandliars is pretty pathetic too. Who cares if Hank, Jr. was drunk? It's part of his public persona. The shades? He always wears shades, always. He has since he was in a bad accident which disfigured his face. And ESPN jumping on board and kicking Hank off Monday Night Football? Exactly why? "All my rowdy friends are coming over tonight." That's the Monday Night Football theme song fer christs sake. One of Junior's biggest hits, now decades old, featured a chronicling of the Williams' family traditions (that was the name of the song I think), including using drugs and alcohol to excess. And really--Hank Williams himself died in his twenties from a drug overdose while riding in the back of a Cadillac in West Virginia on the way to a New Years Day gig. At least back then Country Music was about real things--that's what Hank wrote about, over and over again. So yes, ESPN should have some principles, and yes, while Hank, Jr. always represented the Copperhead Road side of country, he hadn't come right out and screamed it, or at least not on the teevee. Maybe ESPN should have at least made a bargain of some sort: if SC removes the stars and bars from its state flag, we'll drop Junior. That'd work.
Liberals don't need to be nambypamby about country culture. It is what it is. Mr. Amato and his commenters ought to give a listen to James McMurtry's "Choctaw Bingo" some time. That's where Hank, Jr. is coming from. It doesn't have to be laced with political genius. In fact, the trouble with political genius is, it comes often packaged in Rush Limbaugh, who knows how to stay perfectly on the razor's edge of whatever line the long-term crafters of our fascist future are walking at the moment. While Amato was wringing his hands about something as predictable as Hank Williams Jr.'s political views on President Obama, Limbaugh managed to get Herman Cain to walk back his mild-mannered objection to Gov. Perry's having a hunting ranch called "Niggerhead." And if Mr. Cain can't say Fuck You to Rush Limbaugh on that topic, he's as weak a plank of "presidential timber" as John McCain was for selecting Ms Palin for Veep.
Hank III already said all that needs to be said about his uncle Hank's generation of Country Stars. "If Toby Keith's country," Hank III said, "then fuck country."
Hank III might have said that around the fire at Uncle Slayton's big birthday party in Oklahoma. At least Hank Jr. wears his gun outside of his pants, for all the honest world to feel.
Look, this is country, courtesy of McMurtry. Read 'em and weep. That's the point:
Strap them kids in
Give 'em a little bit of vodka in a cherry coke
We're going to Oklahoma to the family reunion for the first time in years
It's up at uncle Slayton's cause he's getting on in years
You know he no longer travels but he's still pretty spry
He's not much on talking and he's just too mean to die
And they'll be comin' down from Kansas
and from west Arkansas
It'll be one great big old party like you never saw
Uncle Slayton's got his Texan pride
Back in the thickets with his Asian bride
He's got a Airstream trailer and a Holstein cow
He still makes whiskey 'cause he still knows how
He plays that Choctaw bingo every Friday night
You know he had to leave Texas but he won't say why
He owns a quarter section up by Lake Eufala
Caught a great big ol' blue cat on a driftin' jug line
Sells his hardwood timber to the chipping mill
Cooks that crystal meth because the shine don't sell
He cooks that crystal meth because the shine don't sell
You know he likes his money he don't mind the smell....
You can have the saccarine part or you can have the shine, with the good bead. In country, the ladies make the men go out to the car to drink amongst themselves. When they stagger back inside, cheeks flushed and eyes flashing, the ladies don't notice a thing, but exchange glances. This is how it works in the GOP, and mostly on teevee generally. Over on Jon Stewart's show they pointed out that there are old racist names all over the map of the US of A, and they sang a fine alternative verse to America the Beautiful. That's one way to actually see both sides of the coin at the same time. It's dizzying, but it's real.