The Dukes of Hazzard and the South

by Colin Burke

Initially airing in 1979 the television show The Dukes of Hazzard was a comedy sitcom that was based within the South, more specifically Georgia. The show then went on to become wildly popular which led to many people seeing its depiction of the South. Because of the sheer amount of people who saw this show its vision of the South while not entirely realistic became incredibly influential.  Most people today could also probably still name the iconic orange 1969 Dodge Charger with the Confederate Flag on it as the General Lee. In fact, even to this day if you type in “General Lee” into google the car will come up instead of the Civil War general Robert E. Lee after which it was named. Within the wildly influential view of the South within the show it mainly focused on the antics of of two very country cousins both with the last name Duke in Hazzard county. Many other characters are also given very stereotypical redneck names such as Cletus or Cooter. Many of them are portrayed as good ole boy characters who also are rebellious by going against the “system” or the law. The show also leaves out middle and upper class people depicting only the most country of the South who get involved with this crew. On top of that, race is also left out with almost no black characters ever being depicted within the show. This all leads to the South being shown as a far simpler place where you can get away with more because everyone knows each other. The whole point of the show was to stereotype the South to the extreme which it was very successful at doing. The show did this so well that the General Lee became infamous along with this stereotyped view of the South which stuck to the region for a while.


by Gustavo Castillo

I am going to take a somewhat different approach on this and talk about a film I think most college students have seen or at least heard of: Holes. Texas is somewhat regarded as a different part of the United States by some but others accept is as part of the south still. Regardless, Texas is part of the South even if it has its own taste/version to it.

In the movie Holes, the South is seen as this dreary, hot, and exhausting place where if someone visits, they would be miserable. This, in part, in part has to do because the people who were going to this location in Texas were some form of juvenile delinquents in custody. That leads to my first point – the story begins with a kid from a city, likely to be up North. The time spent here is shown by scenes of family and funny moments. Then, after a series of events, he heads down south to this place where he is mainly doing free labor. This could be straight allusion to a poor time in America which gives is that exhausting and tedious feel.


Another thing in the movie that dealt strictly with the South related to culture artifacts that are mostly seen in the South. I am referring to the whips, boots, hats, and clothing that is used by the warden and her father in the movie. This gave a rigorous feel to the people that were native to the area and it gives the audience a sense of life as a southerner – more specifically, someone from Texas. Their relationship also adds a bit of life into the movie and shows how his words override everything she had to say. This is a very “old-timey” style interaction but it also reflects a modern lifestyle in some areas.

Django Unchained

by Jed Barg

For this blog post about how the south is represented in film, television, song, or really any media, the first film to come to mind was Django Unchained, written and directed by none other than Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino is known for his unique style of moviemaking in which he will often take real historical circumstances and twist them in a certain way that allows for a fictional story to (very entertainingly) unfold. Django Unchained takes place in a pre-civil war Southern America and is about a slave named Django (played by Jamie Foxx) who befriends a German bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz (played by Christoph Waltz), that grants Django his freedom in return for help to hunt down bounties. The movie includes graphic scenes and depictions of slavery and life for slaves on a plantation as well as scenes of slave rebellion and intense violence towards the end (which is classic Tarantino). About ½ way through the movie, we realize that above anything, Django’s main goal is to gain his freedom so that he can find his wife (who is played by Kerry Washington and was split up from him during a slave auction) and get revenge on those that have hurt him/her. I deeply apologize for the spoiler, but in the end, Django and Dr. King Schultz encounter the plantation where Django’s wife lives (Candyland), the evil plantation owner Calvin Candie (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), and Django burns down the entire plantation while Dr. King Schultz kills Calvin Candie. In the last shot, Django gloriously rides away with his wife on a horse with the plantation burning in the background. 

 There are many things that are fictional regarding Django Unchained’s depiction of the South. First of all, the movie is filled with stereotypical scenery. The movie begins with a line of slaves chained up walking through hot planes of land with no end in sight. Heat waves can be seen in the camera as deep country-sounding chords are played in the background. This is already stereotypical south: land, upon land, upon land with no infrastructure in sight for miles, unbearably hot weather, and country-sounding music. On top of that, the scenes of the plantations include big, beautiful houses on beautiful plots of land with people working in the front yards and guards on horses. This is a very stereotypical depiction of a southern plantation. Most white people (with the exception of the plantation owner who is always lavishly dressed) are dressed in cowboy clothes and hats, riding horses and wielding guns on their waists while most black people are on foot without any weapons or shoes dressed in nothing but rags and dirty cloth. My point here is that there were choices made regarding the smaller details of the movie (scenery, costumes, even accents) that were clearly made specifically to give the audience a feeling and sense of the “old south during slavery.” Now for the bigger details. 

 Another fictional part of the movie is the fact that the entire plot line is about a slave who earns his freedom because he got lucky by meeting a kind white man that isn’t racist. The freed slave then ends up finding and saving his wife (who was split up from him MANY years prior) while burning down an entire plantation AND killing the owner of the plantation in a glorious moment of revenge. Sure, this is a compelling, entertaining, and satisfying story. However, the stories of most slaves in this time are in deep opposition to what happens to Django in Django Unchained. This movie and Django specifically makes the south during slavery look like a place of opportunity, revenge, and happy endings. This is far from the truth. It is possible that there are positive slave stories similar to this that exist, however, the majority of slave narratives depict intense and lasting pain, abuse, and upset with very few chances to escape it. There are also many people who were enslaved and never lived long enough to see freedom. This makes the positivity of Django Unchained arguably insulting to the reality of what slaves went through during this time in history. 

 To propose a counter argument, one could suggest that Django Unchained does do slavery and this timeframe justice in how it is depicted. As I mentioned, the movie includes deeply intense and graphic scenes in which slaves face abuse and racism. The Tarantino-esque intensity and violence of these scenes are intended to shock the audience and make them realize just how terribly black people were treated in the south during this time. At the same time, the story is about a black man who defies the odds and succeeds in saving his wife and gaining his freedom. This is, above all the racism, hateful speech, and violent scenes of white power, a black power story with a powerfully evocative ending. In this regard, one could argue that Tarantino was attempting to depict the south as a terrible place that was defeated by a noble, hardworking man of color.  

In conclusion, Django Unchained is a brilliantly crafted movie with clever dialogue, evocative scenes depicting slavery, and an extremely entertaining and satisfying plot line. However, there are elements of the movie and its depiction of the south that are fictional and stray from the truth of what happened in the south pre-civil war. It is important to recognize that the positivity of the plot line (specifically the happy ending) is enlightening and attempts to represent a story of black power, however, that story is far from the reality of what most slaves suffered during the era before abolition and does NOT well represent the degree to which slavery effected the black community and our country as a whole. I personally love this movie and I think Quentin Tarantino makes movies that are entertaining and compelling, however, it must not be forgotten that Django Unchained was made to tell a love and revenge story for entertainment purposes, not a true story for educational purposes.


Rent Django Unchained (2012) on DVD and Blu-ray - DVD Netflix

“Carolina in My Mind”

by Julia Kempton

In the late 1960s, James Taylor was traveling around the world, making stops in various Mediterranean islands and London. Still, his home back in North Carolina was stuck in his head. This feeling of homesickness inspired him to write “Carolina in My Mind”, a song in which he reflects on his upbringing in the Southern state. 

There is a strong sense of place among many Southerners. The South is seen as very distinct, with characteristics that make it feel like home to many who live in the region. In media representations, this sense of place is often seen in country songs, but Taylor portrays it in a different genre. The lyrics of “Carolina in My Mind” immediately bring listeners into Taylor’s world, describing many aspects of his life growing up near Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In the chorus, he questions “Can’t you see the sunshine? Now can’t you just feel the moonshine?” Taylor depicts the region as being hot and sunny, as is the case with many representations of the South. Moonshine is also a stereotypical symbol of the rural South, and it clearly stands out in his memories of North Carolina.

As we talked about in class, a connection to nature is also seen in many discussions of Southern culture, and “Carolina in My Mind” is no different. Taylor reminisces about “geese in flight and dogs that bite”, conjuring images of rural farm life and the natural world. Indeed, Taylor would later say that “Chapel Hill, the Piedmont, the outlying hills, were tranquil, rural, beautiful, but quiet”, owing to “the red soil, the seasons, [and] the way things smelled down there.” That feeling of calmness and nostalgia is portrayed throughout this song. With “Carolina in My Mind”, James Taylor translates his sense of homesickness into a universally understandable representation of the Southern home that he remembers.

The Beverly Hillbillies

by Cody McLellan

The Beverly Hillbillies was a show featuring a poor backwoods Southern family from the Ozark Mountains, who move to Beverly Hills after striking oil on their property. While the show does not depict a specific Southern place, it does depict the Clampett family and their home in the Ozark mountains. The Clampett’s home in the Ozarks was a shotgun shack located in a rural landscape. The Clampett family had lived off the land, hunting, fishing, and gathering their resources. But, when the Clampett Clan leader, Jed Clampett, becomes a millionaire, discovering a massive oil field he wants to be removed from his land. They relocate to Beverly Hills where the family was painfully out of place. Jed was an uneducated, rural, Appalachian man whose family stereotypically depicted the Appalachian/Ozark demographic. Granny, the matriarch of the family, is educated in the hills and better known as a doctor of “hillbilly medicines,” meaning by default she is a proficient moonshiner.
The family truck was a 1921 Oldsmobile with barrels strapped to the side and a wooden platform on the back. When the show aired their car was already 41 years old. This quintessential depiction of “rags to riches” often makes fun of the Appalachian culture while contrasting it with the “modern” culture of Beverly Hills. While Appalachian culture was often highly dramatized for television, the Clampetts held strong family values, resourceful skills, and strong wills to defend what’s theirs. While the family’s Southern attributes often caused issues with their Beverly Hills neighbors, it also remained authentic to the historic ways of life for frontiersmen in the Ozarks: hunting for their food, distilling their moonshine and medicine, and defending their family and home. While these attributes may not have served the Clampett family well in Beverly Hills, but for people living in the rural South and old Southern frontier, it was essential. The Beverly Hillibillies’ lifestyle depicted in the show was uniquely Southern.

Top 50 TV Cars Of All Time: No. 16, The Beverly Hillbillies' Truck

beverly hillbillies shack | Old cabins, The beverly hillbillies, Cabins in the woodsThe Beverly Hillbillies' mansion featured a 150-foot waterfall and an underground elevator


Dixieland Delight

by Emily Jolley

Dixieland Delight has been declared to be distinctly Southern since its release by the band Alabama in 1983.  Maybe it is because lead singer Ronnie Rogers wrote the song about “rolling down a backwoods, Tennessee byway,” as this line sets the song in a state known for its country music and Southern culture.  Or maybe it is due to Rogers’ reference to the bullfrog “croakin’” as he thinks about his “home grown country girl” who is described as a “sweet soft southern thrill.”  However, the southern roots of this song are undeniable as its chorus concludes with the line: “my dixieland delight.”  Through the song, the listener is not only told not only of the beauty of the woman, but also the land and the Southern way of life.  Rogers references the “mountain moonlight” and the “whitetail buck deer,” glorifying not only the girl seated beside him, but also the beauty before him.  Ultimately, it paints a picture of a simple, “delightful” life full of hard work, a sweet Southern woman, and endless miles of beautiful countryside.

Dixieland Delight - Wikipedia

This song has remained relevant far beyond its release as it has become a staple at many Southern college football games, especially at rival schools.  And once one has experienced this, it is difficult to hear the song without immediately thinking of the atmosphere, the camaraderie, and the tribute to the South.  In South Carolina, dieheart Clemson and Carolina fans have chanted the song’s chorusand its added lines from very young ages.  This song serves as more than a rivalry chant, though.  It embodies the beauty in the simple way of life often associated with the South.  Despite its reference to “Dixieland” and a “Mason Dixon night,” this song has remained a fan favorite for almost 30 years and its power to both unite listeners through the Southern identity and divide households on Saturday night is unmatched by any other Southern song.

Texas (Spongebob Squarepants)

by Ha Ho

A show centered around an animate sponge and his friends, the SpongeBob episode “Texas” focuses on Sandy, the local squirrel that lives under the sea, and her homesickness. The native Texan is reminded of her home when she mentions where she comes from to SpongeBob and Patrick. To cheer her up, they “surprise” her by taking her to her residence under the sea. Upset by their confusion in which home she refers to missing, Sandy runs into her house crying. Upon their departure, Sandy sits atop the dome of her house and starts to sing about her beloved Texas. In this scene, she has an acoustic guitar and a large western hat with several pictures behind her, depicting Texas. With a slight accent, she sings about her desires to return home to the “prettiest place in the world”.

In her song, she refers to many things that people correlate to the South, or more specifically, Texas. All aspects of her song points to several features of Southern culture. The first thing people notice is her attire, the big “cowboy” hat that relates to Texan culture. Another aspect that emphasizes the Southern influence is the song itself. Written as a Blues song, a genre associated with the South, is a parody of Hank Williams’ “Long Gone Lonesome Blues.” Along with her singing, Sandy features some yodeling into the song. In the song itself, Sandy mentions some aspects commonly associated with the South. For example, she talks about missing the bright blues skies and her 20 acres of land. She also misses the barbeques and pecan pies. When asked about what they know about the South, people generally answer with the rural areas and types of foods, something Sandy highlighted. In the back, several pictures rotate, showing things from Texas, such as bull riding. Sandy’s song depicts several aspects of Texas that people generalize about Southern culture.

As the episode continues, Sandy packs her bags to head back home. However, SpongeBob and Patrick have set up a surprise to cure her homesickness. When she finally arrives to the Krusty Krab after they make fun of Texas, Sandy is met with the Bikini Bottom’s version of Texas that she misses so much. She realizes that although she misses Texas, this is her home.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

by Sarah Bagwell

In the 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou? the storyline depicts a southern version of Homer’s The Odyssey set in Mississippi during the Great Depression. The three main characters meet after escaping prison and throughout the movie the group attempts to outrun the authorities. Along the way they partake in endeavors including a baptism, a radio broadcasting of early country music, an altercation with a one-eyed Bible salesman, and a run in with the Ku Klux Klan. The protagonists are comprised of a sly but charming Southern gentleman who acts as the Ulysses of the story, and his two rather stupid sidekicks. At one point, this stupidity is exacerbated when the characters believe that one of the sidekicks turns into a frog.

The southern aspects of the movie are at the forefront and portray the South in a negative stereotypical way, full of extreme religion, hateful racists, simpleminded Southerners and large families with unintelligent children. However, the film still romanticizes the South when it comes to the physical scenery with the railroads, tall grass, rivers, plentiful trees, and the constant hum of cicadas. Strong southern accents are abundant and are especially unintelligible and slow on the foolish characters. And of course, every character seems to make a fool out of themselves at some point in the movie, including the charismatic villains.

These tropes used to depict the South and its inhabitants are not new, but they are combined to make a stylized, entertaining setting for the film. While these characteristics are often used to poke fun, they also carry a charm about them that almost praise the distinctiveness of the South. Although the film is not quite an appreciation of the South, it recognizes some features of the South in a pleasant light, especially considering the physical landscape and start of traditional Southern bluegrass and country music.

Duck Dynasty


by Cate Waggoner

Duck Dynasty was a popular television show that aired from 2012 to 2017. It followed a local Louisiana family, the Robertsons, who made a living off of hunting ducks and were famous for their duck hunting whittle. The reality show focuses on the family dynamic and how their duck hunting passion has become the large business that it is. Immediately when you watch the show, you notice men with foot long beards and camo from head to toe. If you aren’t already thinking of redneck country, you are on the wrong channel. As you continue to watch, you notice other Southern aspects such as many of the characters always having a glass of iced tea in their hands, or even the way that their houses are decorated with deer heads on the walls. But really what completes the Southern vibe is the close knit family aspect highlighted throughout the seasons. 

Like any other reality TV show, there has to be drama. The show needs to focus in and highlight something that will entertain the viewers. For Duck Dynasty, it is the Southerness of the cast. The show spotlights how crazy and wild this family is in the way they talk, interact, and live. For example, one of the cast members, Si Robertson, is the kooky member of the family. If you can somehow understand him through his thick accent, you will hear all sorts of nonsense. His nephew Willie Robertson is the exact opposite. He is always serious and embodies several traits that people might think of as Southern in the way he looks (always in camo or boots) to the way he respects his mother and family. Despite their differences, the whole family has stayed close over the years, not just physically but emotionally. The way that the show follows each member of the family and captures how intimate each relationship helps to highlight just how Southern the show really is.

The Devil All the Time – Josh Tiddy

by Josh Tiddy

The Devil All the Time is a thriller film directed by Antonio Campos, based on a novel by Donald Ray Pollock. It was released on September 11, 2020. The plot follows several different characters in post-World War II, small town Ohio and West Virginia. The depiction of this part of the South in the film is especially interesting because of its dark and almost terrifying nature.

The film begins in a West Virginia forest where character Willard Russell is praying to a crucifix (Pictured to the Right). The audience is then taken back to Willard’s connection to it. It is shown that he saw a soldier crucified while serving in the South Pacific. He is later shown back in the States where he can hardly look at a cross due to Post-Traumatic stress. These gory images are soon contrasted by a brief glorification of the South in which Willard meets his wife, has a child named Arvin, and buys a quaint Southern home in the country. It is after he has settled into a pleasant Southern life that he decides to make a return to praying. He builds the crucifix that is shown at the beginning of the film. This is when the writer chooses to show the negative aspects of the local way of life and, more specifically, of the reliance on God that is present in the area. A preacher that was introduced earlier in the film murders his wife and their child, Lenora, is left with Willard’s mother. Soon after this, Willard’s wife dies of cancer and he kills himself at the crucifix. Arvin moves in with his mother and Lenora where things are normal for a time. When Arvin is grown, a new pastor, who is shown to have a high level of influence on the town, is introduced. The pastor uses his power in the community to force sexual relations with underaged women. The pastor impregnates Lenora and convinces her to kill herself so that the baby is not born. Arvin kills the pastor in the church and escapes the cursed part of the South in which he was raised.

The Devil All the Time provides a unique critique of the Southern reliance on faith and God. Every time a character turns to God, it is to their own detriment. The only character that truly escapes the grim life in West Virginia is Arvin, who shows no connection to God throughout the film. The sentiments and writerly choices expressed in the film challenge the stereotypical disposition of the South and of God as good and pleasant.


“Only In The Presence Of Death Could He Feel The Presence Of Something Like God.”