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[00:00:04]

Listener supported WNYC Studios. Hi, I'm Molly I, the producer of Dolly Parton's America. Before we jump into today's episode, I wanted to give a large, big, loud thank you to everyone who's been listening, enjoying telling your friends about it. As you might know, this series was funded by WNYC Studios Public Radio, which means it's ultimately funded by listeners like you.

[00:00:31]

If you like the series, if you've been enjoying it so far and you'd like to hear more in the future, we've made a really easy way for you to donate. You can either text the word Dolly to seven zero one zero one, will text you with a link on how you could support or you can go to Dolly Parton's America Dogs, Donate and make a contribution. Anyway, thank you again so much for listening and on to the show. Marking the.

[00:01:02]

I'm Jad Abumrad. This is Dolly Parton's America Episode seven, Dolly Parton's America A Cycle of condemnation and salvation.

[00:01:10]

In the next two episodes, we're going to tackle some of the trickier aspects of the diverse hillbilly is a caricature of Appalachian stereotypes.

[00:01:17]

Questions about the South who moon shines for a living, doesn't know how to read identity, and likely has sex with his cousin. And there's no mention of slavery. This is part of the reason why Charlottesville happens race.

[00:01:31]

We'll take on some of that in this episode, some in the next sort of a two parter.

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OK, part one, I have been up for over twenty four hours right now.

[00:01:42]

Yeah, we start things off at the University of Tennessee in a fluorescent lit classroom Easter weekend. About 12 college students, all history majors shuffle in looking like zombies, but talking a mile a minute, something good hour.

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And then she and I have returned to this class a bunch of times over the past two years.

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In many ways, master class gave us the confidence to do this series. Certainly give us the name because the class is called Dolly Parton's America.

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You guys are scaring me because I'm going to be the least energetic person in this room. I think to that they very generously allowed us to borrow the name, use it for our series. Today, all the students are handing in their final papers, which have to answer the question, what is Dolly Parton's America?

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Kelsey is missing. We're going to talk about your papers today because I want to find out the answers. All right.

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That voice you're hearing is Lynne Sacco, who teaches the course. What I did was when I was asked to do I was asked to think of of course, Lynne is in her 60s, wiry silver hair, black cat, eye glasses.

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So she says the University of Tennessee asked her to develop a course that would teach these students how to do history. You know, the basics.

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What's the difference between a primary and secondary source?

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For example, what I was supposed to focus on here is just the sources.

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And for that, she could have chosen any topic for them to study. Why Dolly Parton, when did that pop into your head? That's in my head when she came here for graduation. I think it was in 09. It is my honor to present to you Dolly Parton for the degree doctor of humane and musical letters. 2009 is presented with an honorary degree from the University of Tennessee, Lynn says she wasn't planning on attending because she wasn't a fan.

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I'm 63 and in Second Life feminism, I consider her an embarrassment. Why? She you know, she was like all about her bosoms. And then my friends here, when she was coming for graduation, they lost their minds. And I'm like, why do you even like her? Like Lin? You don't know. So I went to graduation.

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And it totally changed my view of her. I never dreamed ever, ever, ever dreamed that I would be a commencement speaker.

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Now saying, yes, I can do that, no problem. But making speeches, I'm a little nervous, seriously.

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She comes out in her gown and then the governor comes over and the present this. So they give her the degree and she just stood there and just sobbed during it and seemed very genuine. Lynn says something about seeing Dolly be so moved, moved her. If I had one wish for you, it would be for you to dream more. Now, when I was a kid, I used to put a tin can on a broom handle. I used to stick down in the crack out on the porch of our old cabin.

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And of course, in my mind's eye, I was standing on stage with my guitar, singing my heart out in this microphone. And those were not chickens out there in the yard. It was my audience.

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And Lynn says, just seeing how the students in the audience absolutely melted in her presence, but just turned her around.

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And I thought, this is the best graduation talk. This would be an interesting. Class Dolly Parton's America, she would be it. I want to do it so like I said, students had just written these essays trying to answer the question, what is Dolly Parton's America? We read those essays and they were so a lot of things, a lot of thoughts happened. And so after Class Shemin, I begged Lynne Sacco to let us get some of these students into a room.

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OK, so maybe you just can we just do Rapid-fire introductions? Kate Hannah Lainez, Mallory, Polly Garrett Will Justin Lin Cima Chad.

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OK, so maybe let's see where to start. OK, so I'm going to take I'm going to steal your question if you don't mind, because is a great unanswerable question. So what, what is Dollis America.

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I know, I know it's it's big but we try to tap his favorite answer now that you removed from the paper writing process.

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I mean, what if what what is it in your own words? Not not in a historical scholarly sort of way. Like what is it to you? Hot mess.

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What followed was a three hour raucous conversation about hillbilly hillbilly stereotypes and pimping Hollywood, Hollywood and moonshiners and put our coal miners and how Dolly does or does not relate to any of the stuff. Yeah.

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Who's pimping who they like. And we'll get to some of that in a second.

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But something I feel like I should mention is that all of these kids are of the place that they're talking about. They all grew up in the Appalachian South.

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I'm from Charleston, Tennessee. Cleveland, Tennessee. Kentwood, Virginia. Big town, small town, fewer than a thousand. Charleston is around 650. I believe that my family has lived here since the 18th century, like twenty minutes up the road. Well, I lived in the woods down in between two hills. You know, our nearest neighbor was like twenty minutes away walking.

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Many of the students told us they're the first in their families to go to college. Growing up, I mean, like, my life was very much tied to my church and where I was, because my street, everyone in my street was Methodist. We all went to Brandon First Methodist.

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We were all very let's say about three quarters of the students came from very religious backgrounds. I was raised pretty religious, too. When you're a Baptist Baptist, it becomes your whole life. Everything that we did at school was about our ministry. And so we were sitting in class and we were thinking about like, how can I share Jesus in my math classroom? Dr. Sacco told me if I told another story about church, she was going to lose it earlier today just because it's holy, because wasn't talking a lot about like and almost all the students told us that they grew up with Dolly.

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Dolly Saint Dolly, the Southern Jesus. Yeah.

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And they're her southern Jesus ness of it all was really underlined for us when the talk turned to football.

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You honestly, I think like last semester, like once a week, I thought about freshman year when the marching band did the Dolly Parton halftime show.

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No, I'm at that game. Yikes. Ouch. Twenty four, three year losing to Georgia was I think was Georgia.

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Georgia is in Tennessee now trying to climb out of the twenty one point four.

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Let's just say that UT football has gone through some tough years. I just remember I remember there was this moment in like the halftime show at. Marching band did a daily tribute, my friend told me, like, oh, yeah, they wanted Dolly Parton to come and be there, but she couldn't because she's recording something. But she'd recorded a video. Hello, I'm Dr. Dolly, better known as Doubleday. I want to give a shout out to the pride of the Southland Band.

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And thank you for playing some of my music today. I'm very honored and very proud. Goebels. He recorded a video and she said, go bald and go touchdown! And we started winning. And I remember all my friends, one of my friends said the reason we win the game is because the power of dollar compels. This is my senior. Thirty one, Tennessee came back at halftime. I remember because that was an amazing game. Palpable.

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So this was last year when we had that Hail Mary. I'm like, well, because the year before last I watched it with a bunch of friends and the storm lobby. And when we won, it was so crazy.

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I got I got a video of it to Laurel the four this. This is the game.

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And this is where we made the Helmrich ever crazy. He pulled out his phone and showed us a video at. Somebody somebody was going crazy, they hit their mother all and got blood all over the world. Oh, my one of our friends, her name was Dustin. She's crying on the ground. Oh, my God. That you guys are animals. Yeah. Oh, everybody. She does look religious. Like I'm a very religious person. Oh, my God.

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Like, I could feel Jesus Christ in that moment.

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It was a very religious experience. The power of Dolly Parton.

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But we would discover that for these students, that power. It cuts both ways. That's after the break. Dolly Parton's America, I'm Jad Abumrad. We're back with the Dolly Parton's America class at the University of Tennessee. And the thing that we discovered, really the reason that we were so taken and want to make an episode about this class is that though Dolly plays a massive role in the lives of these students, it's not a simple role. Like the moment we started talking about her with them.

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My first thing moving out here was Dollywood.

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It led to some really personal stories. For example, we asked each of the students, what was your first encounter with Dolly Parton?

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And one of the students Will told us, really, my first exposure exposure was the imagination library of all things. No kidding. Yeah.

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The Imagination Library is Dolly's literacy program that gives tens of millions of free books to kids from the moment they're born up until they start school in some areas of the south. It's the only literacy program that exists.

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Yeah, I went to a small rural high school about an elementary school sorry about 20 miles north of here. And we would a lot of kids got those books and we got some of the books for the school from that program as well. What can you tell me? Anything specific you remember about that first encounter with the books or. Like what? What was the book, do you know? Well, the first book I remember is The Coat of Many Colors book that she did.

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I remember we my teachers were hell bent on reading that to us and having us read that. You read it. You think what you remember at the time, I just be who you are and I've kind of taken that with me. I, I wholeheartedly embrace that. I'm honestly ashamed of it. I used to have a thicker Southern accent and I kind of repress it now and I kind of wish that I had not done that. As an eight year old.

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You were trying to be less southern? A little bit, yeah.

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Soon as you said that instead of nods around the room.

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Yeah, I remember a conversation with my mom when I was about 14 or 15. I think it was like I was going into high school and I was like starting to like try harder in school and like take more advanced classes. I was trying to do like leadership stuff. And my mom was like, hey, we need to sit down. If you want people to take you seriously, we're going to have to work on the league. And I like we've had smaller versions of this conversation before where I would say, oh, it's ten.

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And she was like, no, no, it's ten.

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Laney says her and her mom would actually practice words throughout the day for. For four.

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Get, get, get trying to pronounce each word, so there was no hint of Southern accent in there at all and to this back and forth all day.

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But, yeah, she's like, you need to talk lower and slower because you're going to have to work twice as hard for people to take you seriously. Oh, you're nodding, but what are you thinking about? I've had a lot of similar experiences. I ain't Aunt Holla, Hollo Flower Flower. You know, my I was sat down when I was younger as well and told that I would have to learn to straighten out my accent for fire or oil.

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My parents were much more kind and kind. They never sat down and said, Son, you need to change your accent. I willingly changed it. Can't can't you know, as a kid, in addition to being based here, my dad was in the military.

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We moved around. So I got to hear a bunch of different accents and I thought, wow, I'm different. I want to sound like they're genuinely, genuinely, come on, genuinely Krick Creek. I don't have my accent anymore.

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I got rid of mine when I was in middle school. You will get away.

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I will admit I got within the government because as a kid, I went to D.C. for a people to people ambassadorship like I was a representative for Mississippi. It was a whole it was a really big deal. And I remember kids wouldn't talk to me y'all you all because they realize where I was from, like within five minutes and they wouldn't speak to me. Mine, mine accent, accent at all. No, because I was some dumb kid from Mississippi, they didn't think I could read.

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I got excited about snow because I never seen snow before. And they're like, oh, you know, like they treat me like I was like thought I was like, OK, we're getting rid of it just like stop getting rid of it.

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It's just painful to hear.

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When I got here in 2004, I could not understand anyone in class.

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Lynn says when she first moved to Knoxville from Chicago, she couldn't understand the students at all.

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And so she told them she was hard of hearing because I didn't want the students to think like I couldn't understand them, but I couldn't. And it took a couple of years for me to get used to it. But then also the number of students with those accents started to decrease. And I was thinking maybe it was something like television. And I think it's really painful to hear that your parents told you, like, essentially not to sound dumb is really painful.

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After a brief moment of silence, she jumped in. I think it's also interesting that, you know, when you when you guys started cheering like where you're from and the how you're how you're stereotyped, how people think you're dumb or you had to learn how to change in different, you know, change how you speak. Don't do you feel like do you think that I really want to know, do you think that people from the South are not as smart as other people?

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That's a lot to him. I think it's an excellent statistical like you could look at like education, like funding and like pass rates and like you do see that the South.

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Is that more of a disadvantage educationally?

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All this really brings us to those essays in a way.

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OK, Leanne, Carol. Dolly Parton's America Searching for authenticity and post-modern society. Garrett Woods, Dolly Parton.

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Is America a cycle of condemnation and salvation?

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After all, the mission of the class was to write a paper that answers the question, what is Dolly Parton's America? Very open ended question.

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Kate Kelly constructed Dolly constructed Appalachia.

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And in nearly every case you don't hear pumping in Appalachia. What the students actually ended up doing was sort of putting Dolly in a larger historical context and really tackling that shame that they all seem to have inherited and asking where did it come from?

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Now let's talk about the most frequently slanted Southern character, the hillbilly. The hillbilly is a caricature of Appalachia stereotypes dolma white, poor, dirty, barefoot, backwards.

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All the is really focusing on that idea, which is something that's followed her whole career.

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This is Dolly talking to Barbara Walters in 1977. It is something right now. When I think I'm thinking of you, I think you probably are the people who have lost loved ones to a considerable amount of people. And that's one thing I took that kind of came from people like us. But people we don't have a lot of that was a great deal of time since most of the. People were educated and intelligent, good common sense, we. Now, one of the things that the essays do is follow that idea back in time, of course, it didn't start with Dolly Parton.

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It actually goes back to about 80 ish years before she was born, late 18th 60s.

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Let's say when America is rebuilding from the civil war, there's a wave of industrialization that took place in the United States.

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This is historian Elizabeth Catt who wrote the book, What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia. The railroads are pushing further, further into the wilderness.

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They're being rebuilt. There's lots of people descending on Appalachia.

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During this time, Confederacy been wiped. This whole swath of the country was now open for business. So you had all these northerners flooding in, including a, you know, a generation of.

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Travel writers doing the turn of the century version of parachute journalism. Strange and peculiar people, the natives of this region are characterized by marked peculiarity of the anatomical frame, the elongation of the bones, the contours of the facial angle.

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In the 1940s to the 90s, you had adventuring travel writers like William Wallace Hanie journeying into the mountains of, say, Kentucky, encountering subsistence farmers there and then sending back these accounts like individuality appears.

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And it is the use of the indefinite substance of pronoun whom is peculiar to the mountains.

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Have you seen any strange showoffs? Critter means an animal.

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They of course, believe in the water wizard and his fork to walk to see.

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These stories were somewhere between wild exaggerations and outright lies is correct, but it sort of misses the point of what they were doing.

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They weren't trying to tell the truth. They were trying to sell stories and not to the people of Appalachia, but the people back in New York, in DC, in Philadelphia, and the whole idea that there might be tucked away in the Appalachian Hills, this lost race of white natives who had nothing to do with the civil war were completely untouched by the bloody chaos of that war, however untrue. That was a pretty grabby story. And so, needless to say, readers back east were fascinated.

[00:21:09]

Mainstream Americans, that is, white Protestant Americans are fascinated with hillbillies from the start of America's first silent movies, featured hillbillies like them in China and India for the moonshine as heavily as food and drink and live in poverty.

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This is Appalachia's introduction to the national stage.

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So travel writing led to Hollywood churning out all of these hillbilly, silent films, which led to people of the North wanting to own as many Appalachian crafts as they could get their hands on, which in turn led to entire schools within Appalachia sprouting up where they taught people to produce certain products that they sold up north and so forth.

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This is Wilmer Dunaway, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech.

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He's written numerous books revising our generally wrong histories of the Appalachian South. They'd find women who quilted, but then come in and say to these women, you need to quilt this pattern or make this basket that's popular someplace else.

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Those sorts of things basically very early on, she says many Appalachians took control of the myth, took this thing that had been given to them from the outside and started selling it back to the outsiders. And then she told us something that really spun my head around.

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She said, if you really want to know when this dumb hillbilly mistook flight. You got to look at liberal arts colleges, of all things, settlement schools, she says around this time, as part of this wave of people coming in, you had very progressive institutions, colleges coming in with the idea that we want to educate this rural population, educate women.

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These places all depended on external charity. There were a number of small schools, small colleges that came into being in that very time period. And they all had the same problem. They had to raise money from outside the region.

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There just wasn't enough money inside the region for the work that they wanted to do. And so she says at a certain point they realized that the story that the travel writers were telling that Hollywood was making in the movies, they could use that.

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So they constructed the president of Bricolage was the first to start this in order to justify fundraising from places like New York City. You know, these are these are the barbarians in our country. You have to save from themselves sort of rhetoric. They can't help what they are. They are trapped here.

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This was their fundraising tactic. Like that's belittle the people we're trying to help in order to get outside money so that we can help them. Oh, absolutely. Indeed.

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And she says it worked. New York money started rolling in. All these other schools in Appalachia started copying the same move, broadcasting to the outside this idea that their students were barbarians.

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It sounds like something that belongs in a funny page then. It kind of. Yeah. Yes, it does. So. So then if the land is so rich, why were the people so poor? Because the money went elsewhere. You can ask the same question about why Third World countries have been so poor for so long, that if the wealth doesn't stay in that particular country, in that particular region and be used for economic development there, then those regions of the world are going to stay less developed and more poor.

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You're in New York City, right? You're in New York City. You know where your electricity comes from. Mountaintop removal in West Virginia. That's where part of your electricity comes from. Wow.

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So we continue this mess. It doesn't end because we're in the 21st century. We just find new ways to rip off and damage, as she was saying this.

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I was sitting in front of the computer that was recording the interview, watching her words become little waveforms on the screen. Little jagged red mountains of electricity powered by the tops being blown off of far away real mountains. What Guillermo is referring to is maybe the most dramatic example of the nasty utility of the hillbilly stereotype. The thing we all already know about the Appalachian South is that it is coal country, clean, beautiful West Virginia coal.

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We love it. Miners went down in those mines and put their lives at risk to power this great nation.

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What happened is that those mining companies came in again from the Northeast, truly believing the stories that they were hearing from places like Berea College and from Hollywood and from travel writers that these people needed them, that they were too lazy to listless to backwards to be able to help themselves.

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Absolutely. So they came in, set up labor camps. The coal miner was paid in currency that was invented by the coal company, was called scrip. So they were not being paid in real wages.

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They were being paid in an internal currency that could only be used in that specific coal camp in any time the miners tried to organize, which was often those efforts were put down, often by force.

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And then the story that got told at the other end of it was always switched back into that hillbilly thing.

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So, for example, Kent told us about this one moment, the battle of Blair Mountain, nineteen twenty one, where you had somewhere between 10 and 20000 miners marching up this mountain in West Virginia for the right to unionize in military formations carrying rifles.

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The National Guard was called in on the side of the coal company.

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And during a seven day battle, plains literally drop bombs on the miners heads.

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It was the largest uprising since the Civil War and one of the most significant labor uprisings and in American history.

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And the kicker is that the people marching that day wore red bandanas around their necks and they were known as rednecks.

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Now, that term has a long history, but one of the things that meant in that context at that time was people organizing.

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Yes, yeah, that's amazing to do.

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Just like I thought it was about Sunbird, you know, the origins of the word hillbilly. No. So I won't I won't take up too much your time, but is kind of interesting when one iteration of the story is that hillbilly was a specific term deployed against people who were from East Tennessee right after the Civil War when individuals were trying to form what were you what historians would probably call perfusionist government. So governments where African-Americans and white individuals had equal political power.

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And so the word hillbilly was a degrading term for for white people who politically organized with African-Americans. Really? Yeah.

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So there you have it, two terms that refer to people fighting for rights, becoming terms used to shame those same people.

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OK, so kind of what I meant by that is that like, you know, America already kind of like you said, this is the kind of thing that the students got into in their essays that the shame they feel about their accents is rooted in these stereotypes that were foisted on them for the last hundred years, beginning with those early silent movies, then going up through movies like Deliverance, which traumatized me as a child, I'll tell you that.

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And then up through the present day and the natural question that came up was how does Dolly fit into this?

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So how much of the blame do we lay on her?

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Is she a part of this history, a continuation of it or counteracting it in some way?

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This is what the students really disagreed. She's making money off of it. So I think she is to blame. She's not she's not the creator of this, but she is profiting off of this practice.

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Some students pointed to all those stories she tells about growing up in the mountains, all the songs she sings.

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They make for her using Appalachian stereotypes. She's legitimizing them in the eyes of the public because she's such a big deal. I mean, Dolly's global the Appalachian stereotypes are now global, even though they've been around for a really long time.

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Like, I mean, having someone come in and be a big deal and using them as one student.

[00:29:09]

Hannah felt like her leaning so hard into those backwoods Barbie stereotypes, given the history of how those stereotypes were used, puts her at least in the same neighborhood as the coal companies, 100 percent daily is an extractive capitalist.

[00:29:24]

This is something I also heard from Elizabeth. But what Dolly extracts are ideas and not minerals, really.

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I mean, if you think about it, you know, you went to Dollywood and you're like all of the theme park rides or, you know, they represent sort of capitalism, extractive capitalism at its worst. You have coal mine, right, timber right up there, Xining No, they're not dangerous, they're not.

[00:29:58]

No one is being exploited.

[00:30:00]

They're also, I must say, incredibly fun. And Elizabeth says maybe that's Dolly's real contribution, Appalachia is a hard place and Dolly makes it less hard.

[00:30:14]

No, I disagree because like but Hannah was like, can't she tell other stories? And so just seemed to me like it was just a she was a huge representative, the South. And it was and he wasn't even just necessarily her. But so much is like I associate her so much like with the South that because you just represented that to me. I hated her for that.

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Anyone have the exact opposite reaction? OK, lady, raising your hand.

[00:30:36]

Yeah, her dolly. I was laughing listening to you because it was like a lot of the same elements, but they like read totally different for me. So I was like a young girl growing up in like the evangelical south. I felt like I was given a lot of binary choices. So there are two options ahead of me. I could be interesting or I could be virtuous. Right.

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Or I could be, you know, like I could be. There's still time.

[00:31:01]

We are there. Almost everything's all right.

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We were having to choose between two things all the time. And I was watching her just say, like, forget that. Like, I'm going to be both. I'm going to be both things.

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I'm going to be adored by church ladies and the gays. And it's like such a wild concept that I still can't wrap my mind around how exactly she does it. But I think it was really important to me to have a role model who is unapologetically where she was from and also like she was not apologizing for where she was going either.

[00:31:32]

At that point, a student named Polly jumped in for me.

[00:31:34]

Dolly has always been sort of a validation of the Appalachian identity, if that makes sense, because to see a woman be so ambitious and so unapologetically Appalachian, it just see her rise to such heights. It just made it feel better to be Appalachian. Is that makes sense? Even if she's showing a very nice, pretty version of Appalachia, I'll be honest, it's kind of nice to see that version of Appalachia instead of this narrative of we are victims, we are a bunch of poor crackheads or moonshiners living in the middle of the woods.

[00:32:15]

I think it goes back to sort of like this idea that Dollis hours several students call Mallory said at least she's not coming in from the outside.

[00:32:24]

The idea is like, yeah, is you know, she's one of us. She's constantly she's reiterating the fact that she is an Appalachian, that she's from this southern heritage.

[00:32:36]

Their sense was if she's selling stereotypes, it's ultimately to help the people who are being stereotyped.

[00:32:42]

First of all, a big thing about Dollywood is that she employs like all these people.

[00:32:47]

And then also her book, Drive Like This, led to a long discussion about philanthropy, the way that Dolly provides books to kids. It wouldn't otherwise have books, the way she funds scholarships to her home. High school has cut the dropout rate in half the fires.

[00:33:04]

She did a lot of donations to the way that in 2016, after the Gatlinburg fires, she raised twelve million dollars to help people of the area rebuild their homes.

[00:33:13]

I think she's like taking off one hand and giving with the other. Yeah, she's taking away our dignity. But at the same time she's giving like books and charity and stuff.

[00:33:23]

And some students agreed.

[00:33:24]

Others were like, come on, I don't think she's exploiting the region or the people. I think she's actually doing a lot of good for the people in the region economically through donations and charity. But she's exploiting the history of Appalachia.

[00:33:37]

If only exploited the history but helps the people, then why are people like Hannah still being, like, bullied for having a Southern accent? Like if Dolly was helping the people, wouldn't she be like trying to legitimize, like, the image of white people from the south and like giving them, like, the ability to be respected? Well, hello. But Polly said the exact opposite, though. She was like, I felt better about being me.

[00:33:58]

This went on for about an hour.

[00:34:01]

With some students arguing she really should be doing more pushing narratives that show people on the outside that we're not what you think we are with some students arguing back, but she's already doing that, at least for me.

[00:34:14]

How would you guys feel about this? So a number of buildings on campus are named for the Haslemere. You give X dollars, you get a building or a school. So the business schools named after Haslam. What if the College of Arts and Sciences was named the Dolly Parton College of Arts and Sciences? How would you feel about that if that's where you were attending?

[00:34:36]

So, no, I don't think about it.

[00:34:40]

I wouldn't take it as serious.

[00:34:43]

I wouldn't take it seriously at all, even though we talk about it like what a big success she is. Yeah, she's like the most successful artist from this. Maybe don't ask for advice on how to do arts and science. Well, I have never heard so many different answers.

[00:34:56]

All the ones. I told Dolly about this whole conversation. So you're right. She thought it was hilarious that there would even be a class that studies her where a conversation like this could happen. And she said in many ways, she is on the side of people wary of exporting bad stereotypes.

[00:35:16]

I really don't. I hate it with all my heart when they do stereotype country people in in Hollywood, how they portray us, just a bunch of corn pounds and just, you know, illiterate, even though we are still a lot of us can't read and write.

[00:35:33]

But there's a gentleness and a warmth and a and a realness and an innocence and a you know, a thing about just pure countrypeople, the sacred. Mercy got to remember, I'm an older person, they're young people, and I tell my stories as I feel them and know them and see them. So I'm not ashamed of anything that we were. I'm not trying to keep us hillbillies, just like when Barbara Walters said about being hillbillies. I take pride in that now that I'm older and somebody say we can call ourselves hillbillies, but you better know what you're saying if you're going to call it hillbilly.

[00:36:12]

To me, that's an endearing term.

[00:36:14]

But what do you say to the idea that. The South is changing and. There are these older ideas of the South that hurt these kids, they feel hurt by them. A lot of them told us they'd been bullied about their accents.

[00:36:31]

I'm wondering if you feel if you ever feel like worried that somehow we that we need to counter those ideas out there the way that the SS is seen from the outside?

[00:36:43]

Well, I'm proud to be from the South. I'm proud of my accent.

[00:36:48]

And that kind of goes back to that own self be true thing. I would rather people have to listen a little closer, a little closer than they might normally to try to figure out what I've said then to try to fake it and say it in a way that is not real for me. But I think you should take pride in who you are. But then again, I never was in college. I never was in a in a place to where I started in country music and country.

[00:37:19]

People were country, the top country, Nashville people were you know, they were singing. And I just never once thought about changing my accent. Now, I could if I did a movie or something. I mean, I could talk like someone from somewhere else, but it just seems so silly, wouldn't it? It's like, oh my God. Are you a doctor? Is that Dolly? I don't think so.

[00:37:42]

Anyhow, I just don't get that when people have to change their accent to please somebody else. Yeah, but if it feels right for you, that's fine, too.

[00:37:53]

Choices. Choices. We have choices.

[00:38:15]

I want to give you a very special thanks to the students at UT Knoxville that have a favorite place on nine to five. Yeah, I did nine to five.

[00:38:23]

I love down the line. It's also hard candy. Christmas is great. Yeah. So I listen to hard candy Christmas like 12 months out of the year. Normally they are.

[00:38:33]

Lanie Goodwin, Molly Gwyn, Hannah Nolan, Justin Woodwell, OK, Mallory Donahue, Kit Kelly, Garrett Woods, Polly Taylor Cole, Colletta Tipton. Also a huge, huge thanks to Professor Lynn Sacco for being so generous with her class, with her time being such a guide for us during the process and for allowing us to use the name on our series.

[00:38:52]

Dolly Parton's America was produced, written and edited by me and Shimoda. I brought to you by Awesome Audio and WNYC Studios. We had production help from Harry Fortuna, who also lent his voice to this episode along with George Olesky. Thank you to our bluegrass trio, Steph Jenkins', Stephanie Coleman and Courtney Hartman, and also to the folks, Sony Music and to David Dotson, Lulu Miller, Susie Leuchtenburg, Sean Wheeler and Sam Shi'i.

[00:39:17]

A reminder, we have a companion playlist that we've partnered with Apple Music to make that we're updating each week with songs from the episodes, as well as some of our favorites. You can find that at Dolly Parton's America.

[00:39:28]

Doug, you'll hear from us again in two weeks on the next episode of Dolly Parton's America.

[00:39:34]

Dolly is this singular figure in American culture who can pull off contradictions that nobody else could could ever pull off. I was curious about the backlash.

[00:39:49]

It's probably actually the most backlash I've had for peace since I wrote about Santa Claus, because when people are paying money to have a tourist experience, they want it to be a joyful, happy experience. Right. And slavery is not something that's joyful. Protesters voiced their concerns outside what is now called Dolly Parton stampede, saying the word Dixie is a piece of history.

[00:40:11]

Is this the place where finally Dolly met her match?

[00:40:20]

In the next episode, we'll look at the kerfuffle surrounding a word on a sign that raised some pretty big questions about race, history and how things are remembered. And there will be racing pigs. That's on the next Dolly Parton's America.