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Bohemian SouthCreating Countercultures, from Poe to Punk$
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Shawn Chandler Bingham and Lindsey A. Freeman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469631677

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469631677.001.0001

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Southern Cinematic Slumming

Southern Cinematic Slumming

The Rough South Turn in Post-South Film

(p.148) Southern Cinematic Slumming
Bohemian South

Zackary Vernon

University of North Carolina Press

In this essay, the author argues that individuals both in and outside of the region are increasingly drawn to narratives about the “Rough South.” Such narratives tend to portray lower-class southerners from an insider perspective that appears tantalizingly “authentic” to educated, upper-middle-class, urban and suburban audiences. Based on a survey of recent southern films, Vernon contends that contemporary southerners are often so desperate to disavowal cultural homogenization that they participate in the filmic fetishization and commodification of a working-class South that seems to have retained a sense of cultural distinctiveness. Building upon the “poverty porn” debates that emerged in the wake of films like Slumdog Millionaire, Vernon asserts that if films unrealistically depict people in need as leading aesthetically satisfying lives, then they may ultimately run the risk of detracting from social justice efforts.

Keywords:   class, film, Rough South, Southern Studies, U.S. South

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