While I type, NBC’s Today Show hosts talk breathlessly about the royal family members entering Westminster Abbey for the wedding of the decade. William and Catherine’s nuptials have created a media stir, drawing the obsessive attention of anglophiles and royalty voyeurs from around the world. It is reality TV at its most unreal.
As I contemplated a New South angle on this cultural phenomenon, I was reminded of another wedding-oriented reality TV experience I stumbled upon one night while channel surfing. No, it wasn’t “Bridezillas,” “Say Yes to the Dress,” “Wedding SOS” or any of the nearly 20 other wedding reality shows.
“My Big Redneck Wedding” is a train wreck you can’t look away from. I would never seek this out again, but it did make me wonder if this was a Southern thing or a blue collar thing. It’s been well established that redneck culture knows no geographic boundaries.
We all know that “redneck” can be a derogatory term as well as a badge of honor. If you are a self-proclaimed “redneck” is it really an insult? Jeff Foxworthy is not an insult comic. He has tapped into the sense of pride so many feel in the redneck identity.
The themes of the redneck wedding reality show are familiar and cliché: lots of camouflage, farm implements as decorations, tractors and ATVs, horses and dogs, sports venues such as demolition derby tracks and a consistent emphasis on guns, shooting and hunting.
What has undermined the concept of this particular reality TV is that several of the couples featured had “real weddings” and then staged these redneck affairs just for laughs. I won’t explore who is laughing at whom, but the whole thing is a little off-putting.
Southerners have traditionally been self-deprecating, and staging a redneck wedding would seem to be the height of self-deprecation. But what really seems to be at play here is desperation to be on television.
This “by any means necessary” approach cheapens their relationship, their culture and the wedding covenant.
I don’t think William and Catherine suffer from the “must be on TV” malady, and I don’t think anyone at the reception will be in camo. But it would be kind of fun if there was a demolition derby in Trafalgar Square.