Mass Media, Stereotypes

Television, radio, internet, movies; hillbilly stereotypes (including noble savage, mountain maid), satire, and misrepresentation; Hatfield and McCoy feuding image, cartoons (Snuffy Smith, Li’l Abner); and popular television series (The Waltons, The Andy Griffith Show, Mayberry RFD, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Dukes of Hazzard, Justified, and more recent reality shows including Moonshiners, Snake Man of Appalachia, Buckwild, Appalachian Outlaws, and the drama, Outsiders)

Anglin, Mary.  2016.  “Framing Appalachia: A New Drug in an Old Story.”  Journal of Appalachian Studies 22, no. 1 (Spring): 136-150.  Review essay of: A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains, anchor, Diane Sawyer (ABC News, 2009); Oxyana, dir. Sean Hash (Cadillac Hash, 2013); and Higher Ground, series (2005–present), produced by Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College Appalachian Program in collaboration with Harlan County, Kentucky, community and performers.

Appalachian Music Films: From Appalshop to Zwigoff.  2015.  Appalachian Journal 42, no. 3-4 (Spring-Summer): 358-389.  List of 74 films “by no means complete” made since 1965, reviewed by: Meredith Doster, Mark Freed, Tom Hansell, Fred J. Hay, Phil Jamison, Rebecca Branson Jones, Steve Kruger, Jordan Laney, Trevor McKenzie, John Cloyd Miller, Natalya Weinstein Miller, Ron Pen, Emily Schaad, Leila Weinstein, and Dave Wood.

Appalshop Archive [web site].  2015.  Whitesburg, Ky.: Appalshop.  Digital archive of video, audio, and photographs. “Since its founding in 1969 Appalshop’s mission has been to document, disseminate, and revitalize the lasting traditions and contemporary creativity of the region.”

Balestier, Courtney.  2016.  “Another Side of Appalachia.” New Yorker, 21 February.  468 words, plus portfolio of 16 photos.  Review of “A Guide to Folk Taxonomy,” a series of photos shot over three years by West Virginia-born Aaron Blum.

Blevins, Brooks.  2013.  “Considering Regional Exceptionalism: The Case of the Ghost of the Ozarks.”  Missouri Historical Review 107, no. 2 (January): 63-76.  Focuses on media stereotyping of the Ozarks Mountains region.

Bradner, Alexandra.  2013.  “America’s Favorite Joke Is Anything but Funny: MTV’s Buckwild Joins a Long Tradition of Skewering ‘Hillbillies’” [W. Va.; reality show].  Salon, 7 January.  1,715 words.

Bradner, Alexandra.  2013.   “A Reality Star We Didn’t Really Know: Buckwild’s Shain Gandee Seemed a Big-Hearted Guy with Unrequited Yearning. We Should Mourn Him Even More.”  Salon, 2 April.  908 words.

Bradner, Alexandra.  2013.  “Buckwild or Hollow? Representing West Virginia through the Incommensurable Lenses of Justice and Care.”  Journal of Appalachian Studies 19, no. 1-2 (Spring-Fall): 224-242.  Media review of Buckwild (MTV series) and Hollow: An Interactive Documentary, by Elaine McMillion.

Buer, Lesly-Marie.  2014.  “Oxyana.”  Journal of Appalachian Studies 20, no. 1 (Spring): 89-91.  Review of the documentary film Oxyana (dir. Sean Dunne, 2013) which depicts Oceana, W. Va., and its epidemic abuse of the prescription drug oxycodone.

Burke, Michael.  2013.  “Pittsburgh Under Siege.”  Western Pennsylvania History 96, no. 4 (Winter 2013-14): 18-33.  Discusses the Senator John Heinz History Center’s new exhibit, “Unconquered: History Meets Hollywood at Fort Pitt,” and the 1764 Siege of Pittsburgh portrayed in the 1947 film, “Unconquered,” directed by Cecil B. DeMille and starring Gary Cooper and Paulette Goddard.

Burriss, Theresa L.  2015.  “Inside Appalachia” [podcast; human interest stories].  Journal of Appalachian Studies 21, no. 1 (Spring): 143-146.  Review essay of West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s radio series Inside Appalachia, hosted by Jessica Lilly with help from public radio stations in Ky., Va., Oh., Pa., Tenn., and W. Va.  “...the professionalism and care with which the podcasts are produced are exemplary.”

Chopra-Gant, Mike.  2013.  The Waltons: Nostalgia and Myth in Seventies America.  London; New York: I.B. Tauris.  213 pp.  “‘The Waltons’ drama series about John and Olivia Walton, their ageing parents Zeb and Esther and their seven children in 1930s and ‘40s America was a successful show for CBS TV throughout the 1970s.”  With chapters on author Earl Hamner and “Spencer’s Mountain” (novel, 1961; film, 1963).

Clark, Anna.  2016.  “How a Unique Community Radio Station Serves Listeners in Appalachia.”  Columbia Journalism Review.  1,191 words.  Profiles Appalshop’s WMMT-FM, Whitesburg, Ky.

Clemons, Tammy L.  2014.  “Goodbye Gauley Mountain: An Ecosexual Love Story” [film; dir. Beth Stephens, 2013].  Journal of Appalachian Studies 20, no. 1 (Spring): 91-93.  Film review.  “...often playful and whimsical, at times very moving, and always steadfast in its critique of MTR’s destruction of Appalachian ecosystems and communities .... it is obviously an important GLBTQ contribution in the field of Appalachian studies” [].

Davenport, Tom.  2013.  “From Documentary Films to YouTube & Folkstreams: Interview with Filmmaker Tom Davenport.”  Interview by Kehren Barbour, G. Marc Bentley, Cary Curlee, Kathryn Engle, Kristin M. Hyle, Victoria Krueger, Jordan Laney, William Lindley, Joshua Roe, and Lynn Moss Sanders.  Appalachian Journal 41, no. 1-2 (Fall 2013-Winter 2014): 78-101.

de Visé, Daniel.  2015.  Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show.  New York: Simon & Schuster.  303 pp.  Andy Griffith (1926-2012) and Don Knotts (1924-2006), stars of The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968).

Douglas, Cynda S.  2014.  “A New Look at Those Hackneyed Hillbillies, Essay.”  In Anthology of Appalachian Writers: Frank X Walker, Vol. VI, ed. S. Shurbutt, 55-60.  Shepherdstown, W. Va.: Shepherd University.

Eskridge, Sara K.  2014.  “‘There Goes Old Gomer’: Rural Comedy, Public Persona, and the Wavering Line Between Fiction and Reality” [Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., 1960sTV sitcom].  Southern Cultures 20, no. 4: 44-57.  “...performers on programs such as The Real McCoys, The Andy Griffith Show, and The Beverly Hillbillies often adopted aspects of their roles— usually naïve southern hicks—as part of their public personas, careful not to act like movie stars and destroy the illusion.”

Ferrence, Matthew J.  2014.  All-American Redneck: Variations on an Icon, from James Fenimore Cooper to the Dixie Chicks.  Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.  191 pp.  Hillbilly stereotype.

Fitzgerald, Jon, and Philip Hayward.  2015.  “Mountain Airs, Mockingjays and Modernity: Songs and their Significance in The Hunger Games.”  Science Fiction Film and Television 8, no. 1 (Spring): 75-89.  “Songs play a significant role in the narrative and thematics of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games (2008), its 2012 film adaptation of the same name and ancillary media texts released to support the film. One particular diegetic composition, known as ‘The Meadow Song’, plays an important role in the novel’s and film’s audioscapes, serving to evoke the complex cultural associations of the Appalachia region.”

FitzGerald, Michael Ray.  2014.  “The Indianized White Man and the Anglicized Indian: Imperial and Anti-Imperial Discourse in NBC’s Daniel Boone, 1964-1970.”  Journal of American Culture 37, no. 3 (September): 281-289.  The long-running TV series “clearly sympathizes with the Cherokees [Boone’s friend and ally is Cherokee chief, Mingo]. Tuscaroras, on the other hand, are ridiculed, reviled as tools of the British, while the Creeks and Shawnees are portrayed as mysterious, unpredictable, and dangerous.”

Fowler, Kate.  2015.  “Interrogating the Notion of Documentary Truth: Stacy Kranitz – ‘As it was give(n) to me’.”  American Suburban X (ASX), 13 May.  3,471 words, and 25 photos.  Reviews the documentary photos of Stacy Kranitz and references her influences: Leni Riefenstahl, Dorothea Lange, and Harry Caudill.  “Producing images through the lens of Appalachia’s history of representation, Kranitz situates herself at the center of an ongoing dialogue on photography’s role in the marginalization of complex regions and identities .... Charged with sexualized iconography of women, drug use and stereotypical characterizations of Appalachians, her work employs the tropes of the documentary tradition to reimagine and subvert the established form and intent of the genre .... Much of Kranitz’s work brings to question the authenticity of stereotypes, including an old and often disregarded cliché of the documentary photographer .... Herein lies the philosophical framework for Kranitz’s project: the tension between what is and the fictions that we develop and consume that represent what we desire to be.”

Fraley, Jill M.  2013.  “Invisible Histories & The Failure of Protected Classes.”  Harvard Journal on Racial & Ethnic Justice 29 (Spring): 95-116.  “...this article constructs the legal history of stereotypes and prejudicial acts against Appalachians.”

Glock, Allison.  2014.  “The Southern A-List: Dale Dickey.”  Garden & Gun, April/May.  809 words.  Interview with “Hollywood’s reigning queen of Southern gothic.”  Knoxville native “Dale Dickey has made a career playing hard-bitten, menacing women....[in] True Blood, Breaking Bad, and this season’s Justified, as well as her award-winning turn as the chilling matriarch in Winter’s Bone.

Hanlon, Tina L.  2011-2015.  “Appalachia in The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins” [The Hunger Games, 2008. Catching Fire, 2009. Mockingjay, 2010].  Applit, 16 November update.  5,276 words.  “As an essay, this analysis is now published in the book Of Bread, Blood, and “The Hunger Games”: Critical Essays on the Suzanne Collins Trilogy, McFarland’s Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy series, 2012. Edited by Mary Pharr and Leisa A. Clark” [Chap. 5, pp. 59-68].

Harkins, Anthony.  2015.  “Colonels, Hillbillies, and Fightin’: Twentieth-Century Kentucky in the National Imagination.”  Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 113, no. 2-3 (Spring-Summer): 421-452.

Hathaway, Rosemary V.  2014.  “From Hillbilly to Frontiersman: The Changing Nature of the WVU Mountaineer” [school mascot history].  West Virginia History, n.s. 8, no. 2 (Fall): 15-45.  “We did not think any reference to tobacco-spitting, gun-toting, feuding characters of another day would be construed as being even a mole on the preponderantly fine face of our state today” .... “perhaps those who are most concerned about eradicating all traces of perceived ‘rusticity’ are themselves the most unsophisticated of all. Likewise, playing with the image of the Mountaineer has always been, and will continue to be, a negotiation not merely between us and them, but between us and ourselves.”

House, Silas, host.  2012–  .  “Hillbilly Solid” [radio program].  Lexington, Ky.: WUKY.  “Kentucky author Silas House plays his favorite music, reads poems and excerpts, and interviews the people who are making a difference in Appalachia.”  Audio podcasts of writer interviewees, ten minutes to a half hour in length, include: Laura Smith (2016) -- David Joy (2015) -- Gwyn Hyman Rubio (2014) -- Jane Hicks (2014) -- Barbara Kingsolver (2014; Pts. 1 and 2) -- Scott Miller (2014) -- Denise Giardina (2014) -- Eric Reece (2013) -- Holly Goddard Jones (2013) -- Ron Rash (2013) -- bell hooks (2012) -- Ashley Judd (2012) -- George Ella Lyon.

House, Silas.  2015.  “Deliver Me from ‘Deliverance’: Finally, a Hollywood Movie Gets Appalachian People Right” [“Three cheers for Big Stone Gap, for destroying Hollywood’s persistent hillbilly stereotypes”].  Salon, 25 October.  1,319 words.  “Big Stone Gap, a new movie adapted from the bestselling novel by Adriana Trigiani [Random House, 2000], stars Ashley Judd as a middle-aged Appalachian woman whose quiet life is disrupted by a death and a sudden revelation.”

Hufford, Mary.  2014.  “Appalachian Outlaws” [TV series].  Journal of Appalachian Studies 20, no. 2 (Fall): 234-239.  Review essay of the History Channel’s reality TV series, Appalachian Outlaws, which follows ginseng diggers in southern W. Va.  “...disingenuous combination of authoritative documentary style with overt plot-shaping...cultural stereotypes .... The task of distinguishing fictionalized reality from real fiction is left to viewers.”

Imbrogno, Douglas.  2013.  “Ex-Buckwild Cast Member Dishes on His Experience” [MTV reality show; Sissonville, W. Va.].  Charleston Gazette-Mail, 23 January.  1,800 words.

Inscoe, John C.  2013.  “The Southern Highlands according to Hollywood: Teaching Appalachian History through Film.”  Chap. 3 in Appalachia in the Classroom: Teaching the Region, ed. T. Burriss and P. Gantt, 50-66.  Athens: Ohio University Press.

Inside Appalachia [weekly radio program/podcast].  2013–  .  Hosted by Jessica Lilly and Roxy Todd, formerly by Cecelia Mason.  Charleston: West Virginia Public Broadcasting.  “Inside Appalachia tells the stories of our people, and how they live today. Host Jessica Lilly leads us on an audio tour of our rich history, our food, our music and our culture....with help from public radio stations in Kentucky, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia.”

Isenberg, Nancy.  2016.  White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America.  New York: Viking.  460 pp.

Jackson, Mark.  2013.  “Out of the Furnace: Rust-Belt vs. Appalachia.”  Epoch Times, 5 December.  745 words.  Film review of “Out of the Furnace,” set in steel mill town Braddock, Pa., and the Ramapo Mountains in northeastern N.J.

Jurgensen, John.  2016.  “David Morse Turns Mountain Man for New TV Series ‘Outsiders’” [interview; WGN America drama].  Wall Street Journal, 26 January.  866 words.

Leidholdt, Alex.  2016.  “A Bitter Row on a Backwater Newspaper Row: The Curious Case of the Moravian Falls, North Carolina, Press Phenomenon” [Wilkes Co.].  North Carolina Historical Review 93, no. 2 (April): 147-194.  “An astonishing flourishing of newspaper publishing...began in the remote North Carolina village of Moravian Falls in the waning years of the nineteenth century and continued for many decades.”

Long, Jordana Ashman.  2014.  “Blood on the Hills: The Hatfields and McCoys and Feuding Families in Huckleberry Finn.”  Teaching American Literature 7, no. 1-2 (Spring-Summer): 29-43.  “In the spring of 1880, two events occurred whose synchronicity of detail suggests a more than coincidental connection.”

Manen, Bertien van.  2014.  Moonshine [photo collection; Ky., W. Va., Tenn.].  London, England: MACK.  112 pp.  Intimate, point-and-shoot photos by French photographer taken between 1985 and 2013.  See also: book review by Jeffrey Ladd, “30 Years in Appalachia: Moving Beyond the Hillbilly Clichés,” Out There (blog), Time, 23 June 2014.  812 words.

May, Roger.  2016.  “Another Appalachia” [photos].  Introduction by Emily Anne Epstein.  The Atlantic, 10 January.  Portfolio of 11 captioned photographs from Roger May’s Looking at Appalachia crowdsourced images project (  Impassioned “Comments” reflect the issue of stereotyping.

Powell, Douglas Reichert.  2015.  “Imagining Appalachia: Three Landscapes.”  Chap. 7 in Studying Appalachian Studies: Making the Path by Walking, ed. C. Berry, P. Obermiller, and S. Scott, 168-193.  Urbana: University of Illinois Press.  Examines three alternative Appalachian landscapes: Scottsboro, Ala.; West Virginia’s Tamarack arts & crafts showcase; and the Cumberland Gap where Va., Tenn., and Ky. intersect.

Riddle, Norma.  2013.  “Blogging about Appalachia: A Selective Review.”  Journal of Appalachian Studies 19, no. 1-2 (Spring-Fall): 244-248.  Review essay of three blog sites: The Front Porch, sponsored by Appalachian Voices (; The Revivalist: Word from the Appalachian South, written by Mark Lynn Ferguson (; and Appalachian History: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes, written by Dave Tabler (

Schramm, Robert.  2015.  Radio Station WWVA: A Photographic History.  Wheeling, W. Va.: Creative Impressions.  188 pp.  “WWVA was the country’s second 50,000-watt radio station, after Pittsburgh’s KDKA .... Includes stories and interviews with Brad Paisley and others.”

Scriptunas, Melanie.  2016.  “Porte Crayon’s Pleasure Excursions and the Making of the Mountain South.”  West Virginia History, n.s. 10, no. 1 (Spring): 1-26.  Explores writer-illustrator David Hunter Strother’s (pseud. Porte Crayon) popular, mid-nineteenth century portrayals of Appalachian mountaineers.  He “set the precedent for future literary depictions....[and] established the economic viability of writing about the southern highlands.”

Seminara, Dave.  2013.  “Taking a Hatfield-McCoy Tour in Pike County, Kentucky.”  Washington Post, 17 October.  1,223 words.  “There’s been a resurgence of interest in the Hatfields and McCoys since the History Channel premiered a miniseries starring Kevin Costner last year.”

Silverman, Rena.  2016.  “Beyond Stereotypes in California and Kentucky.”  New York Times Blogs, 29 January.  791 words, plus slide show (16 photos).  Brief profile of documentary photographer William Gedney (1932-1989) who visited eastern Kentucky in 1964, and again in 1972, and found images of “grace and dignity” contrary to the images of despair portrayed by the national media.

Stiefbold, Angela Shope.  2014.  “Hillbilly Comedy in Cincinnati: The Willie Thall Papers at the Cincinnati Museum Center.”  Ohio Valley History 14, no. 1 (Spring): 73-76.  Cincinnati’s WLW television and radio station, 1940s and 50s.  On their show, “Thall [1909-1980] and Bob Shreve entertained audiences with the mostly ad-libbed antics of two hillbillies.”

Stuever, Hank.  2016.  “Got DVR Space? Even WGN’s Kentucky Hillbilly drama ‘Outsiders’ is Pretty Good.”  Washington Post, 25 January.  959 words.  “You could proudly serve it alongside “Sons of Anarchy,” “Rectify” or “Justified,” and your guests might not taste the difference.”  Premiered January 25 on WGN America television network.

Tribe, Ivan M.  2013.  “The Buddy Starcher & Sleepy Jeffers Shows: Live Country Music on TV!”  Goldenseal: West Virginia Traditional Life 39, no. 1 (Spring): 8-15.  Live local country music was broadcast each morning in Charleston over WCHS-TV from 1960 to 1973.

Walker, Matthew H.  2013.  “Discrimination Based on National Origin and Ancestry: How the Goals of Equality Have Failed to Address the Pervasive Stereotyping of the Appalachian Tradition.”  University of Dayton Law Review 38, no. 2 (Winter): 335-362.  PART I: Historical and definitional grounding; PART II: Appalachiaism in society; PART III: The push for equality; PART IV: Remedies for Appalachiaism.

Washburn, Michael.  2013.  “Appalachia Used to Be Simply Scary: Now Its Hipness Is Frightening.”  New Republic, 5 November.  1,438 words.  “Popular culture has always traded in the currency of reckless caricature, but when it comes to Appalachia the image has always been less exaggeration than outright fantasy. That it’s taken this long to rise to the level of caricature is progress of a sort.”

Whittaker, Richard.  2016.  “Appalachian Blues: New Series Outsiders Explores Outlaw Mountain Men.”  The Austin Chronicle, 22 January.  1,202 words.  Drama premieres Jan. 26 on WGN America television, starring David Morse and Ryan Hurst.