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The Advantage of the Easily Amused...

... and why we should envy white trash.

by James Leroy Wilson
January 2, 2002

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The Advantage of the Easily Amused..._James Leroy Wilson-... and why we should envy white trash. 2002 provides us with something that most experience just once a lifetime, though most of us will have experienced twice: a palindromic year, where the digits read the same way backwards as forwards. They normally happen 110 years apart, but the last one, 1991, was just eleven years ago. Before that, it was 1881, and the next one won't be until 2112. It's hard to guess right now how many people will live through, let alone remember, all three palindromic years, though I believe its quite probable that many born in or before 1991 will live to see 2112. Far fewer would actually care about or even notice the palindromic years of their lives. But such are the observations of the easily amused.

Like when I was in school and had a digital watch. If I pressed one button on the side, it would give the date, also digitally. So every November 11, I would sit there in some math class (it seemed to be usually math, or science) and when the digital watch flipped to 11:11, I would go back and forth pressing the date button and the time of day, both saying "11 11." I wouldn't actually laugh out loud like Butthead, going "heh heh, heh heh," but the sentiment and the sophistication behind it were about equal, if the occasion far less tawdry then Butthead's normal entertainment.

Being easily amused is a gift. That's why I'm sometimes envious of white trash, whose tastes not just "film critics" at the New York Times, but even "movie reviewers" on E!, would scoff at. Once, when I expressed my envy of "trailer trash," but couldn't express the reason why, my cousin said, "There's a lot of freedom in it." And I thought, Exactly. Nobody else cares about what you think or what you do, or what amuses you. You are so beneath contempt, it's like what Kris Kristofferson wrote about Bobby McGee, "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

White, lower-income families, particularly those residing in the old South, are perhaps the most backlash-free targets of humor and derision. In today's Left, Economic Injustice Requiring Federal Solutions doesn't count for much, replaced by Insensitivity Requiring Diversity Training and Legal Protection. Southern white folks who don't have it made are just plain dumb and deserve what they get; whereas the black single mother is a victim of social circumstances, and upscale, prosperous homosexuals are still victims of "scorn" that they suffer day after day.

I think that's what gets to the heart of my admiration, so to speak, of white trash. The redneck seeks neither my sympathy nor empathy to validate his existence. He doesn't try to impress the rest of us with sophisticated tastes in music and art. Least of all does he need "rights" that protect him from discrimination, or that affirms his "inclusion" in society. Victimhood is relative, just like everything else. One person's trailer trash is another's strong-willed woman. One person's redneck is another's independent man.

Six months ago I wrote of my admiration of those who are cool. White trash, those who embody the "anti-cool" and unhip,display many of the same traits. Whether you're a cool person anticipating the next Wilco release (though not pretending to even care about that), or some piece of white trash yearning for a resurrection of Billy Ray Cyrus's career, you basically want what you want, get what you get, and don't care about the opinions of others.

That's what we should all seek, to free ourselves of conventions of esteem and respectability invented by somebody else. Do what you want, what you like, and expect nothing, neither praise nor blame, for the result. Just don't use or hurt other people. Happy lives are achieved not in bowing to the judgment of others, but in spite of the judgment of others.

So if something absolutely meaningless still amuses you, feel free to mention it. Like noting that its a palindromic year.

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