Thursday, October 29, 2009

White Trash Turns Buddhist....Sort of

My Name Is Earl is a perfect example of how a TV sitcom uses the white trash stereotype. It's complete with all of the stereotypical white trash components from the trailer park to the southern drawl to the dumb girlfriend who's dating a black guy. Just take a look at Earl himself: Plaid, scrungy shirt, jeans, and a handlebar mustache. He also embodies the characteristics of the working-class buffoon that Butsch describes. Earl appears to be "dumb, immature, irresponsible, and lacking in common sense" (576) however there's a bit of a twist. The whole show is based on the knowledge that Earl used to be all of these things and always have run-ins with the police, but after losing a winning lottery ticket, he blamed this on a life of sin so he decides to change his old habits by seeking karma through performing good deeds. The show's creator, Greg Garcia, says "It shows that just because you live in a trailer park it doesn't mean you can't have an epiphany and want to be a better person, and whether you are competely immersed in the teachings of Buddha or not, you can still grasp the concept of do good things and good things happen."

So does the show help to break the white trash stereotype or at least put a positive spin on it or not?

1 comment:

  1. Tough to say, I think it uses the "white trash" aesthetic as a platform for its humor. It certainly doesn't help depict working-class southerners any better (in fact it plays into a whole string of stereotypes) but because working class white southerners are not depicted from the POV of an other, and constitute pretty much the entire ensemble of the show -- I don't think its a particularly harmfull depiction either.