Norman Reedus gained international fame as The Walking Dead’s Daryl Dixon. Daryl is one of the most beloved and respected characters on television. Could Reedus help the American “redneck” demographic overcome their villainous stereotype in the horror genre?
Norman Reedus was once typecast as a “redneck” type of villain in horror movies. Now, as Daryl Dixon, Reedus has become a defender of humanity in the zombie apocalypse drama known as The Walking Dead. Will Daryl gradually improve the image of the rural, working class demographic as portrayed in horror?
Norman Reedus, in portraying The Walking Dead’s character Daryl Dixon, transcends the stereotype while fitting neatly into it. Norman Reedus is a self-proclaimed “redneck,” and perhaps it does help to have the absolute coolest guy on television claim the intended slur.
So if Norman Reedus as The Walking Dead’s Daryl Dixon is a “redneck,” what does that mean? According to Vice, a “redneck” is simply a farmer or someone who works outdoors.
“At their simplest, a “redneck” originally meant someone who has been sunburned from working outdoors, and a “hillbilly” is someone who lives in the hills. But the meanings have twisted over time.”
Logically, all The Walking Dead cast would be susceptible to a sunburned neck, so what makes Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon specifically a redneck? Grammarist has another explanation of the classist slur which has nearly always “been used by the upper class in a derogatory manner.”
“[Redneck] is a stereotype of a white person from the United States, usually from the South in a small town. This person is uneducated with outdated or discriminatory views.”
So, why do horror movie writers use this stereotype so commonly? Probably because these kinds of movies flood box offices and that means money. Plus, most of these movies are truly horrifying, and that is the object of making a horror film.
Norman Reedus never seemed to mind his early typecasting as a “redneck” serial killer in horror movies. Prior to becoming Daryl Dixon on The Walking Dead, that’s just what Norman Reedus did for a living, and he seems to have enjoyed it.
Still, has the villainization of rural and working class Americans under the general term “Redneck” become all too commonplace in films and culture? While it has facilitated some great horror movies, do some films take it to far? Are there just too many movies about “inbred southerners” going cannibal?
Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead was not in the movie Wrong Turn, but this is a really terrifying film. There was no one like Daryl Dixon in this movie to help the frightened city people in the remote rural setting. However, despite mastering the horror genre to the point viewers were too scared to be offended while watching it in a dark theater, the film could be considered offensive in hindsight.
Here is an IMDb summary.
“Six people find themselves trapped in the woods of West Virginia, hunted down by ‘cannibalistic mountain men grossly disfigured through generations of in-breeding.'”
Needless to say, The Walking Dead with Norman Reedus would never portray any demographic in the way West Virginians were treated in this movie.
The hideous “redneck” monsters in the movie Wrong Turn in no way represent working class people in the south, West Virginia, or anywhere in the world. “Generations of inbreeding” is a pretty nasty inference to lay on any demographic or geographic region. Yet it is all too commonplace in the horror genre, and in its treatment of the South and West Virginia. Still, in fairness, the movie Wrong Turn, now after at least six sequels, did all it promised. It was absolutely terrifying.
Perhaps Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon will help persuade the general public against these violent, evil, ignorant stereotypes. The Walking Dead is a much more culturally enlightened depiction, and he is nothing like so many of those “redneck” horror classics.
Wrong Turn and other horror classics like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Pumpkinhead, and Rob Zombie’s House of a Thousand Corpses are great classic style horror films that sadly use that divisive “redneck” stereotype to scare an audience. While they may insult the demographic a lot of people fit into, they are very effective examples of the horror genre.
Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon on The Walking Dead gives much better insight into the mind of the so-called “redneck” than any of these movies, but as long as the negative stereotype sells movie tickets, who could blame movie producers for cashing in?
Rather than getting offended, perhaps it’s classier to just take the high road and have a good laugh at it all. So what if “yuppies” are scared of “rednecks” and could believe all this nonsense about Southern and mountain folks.
Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil is one comedic horror spoof that sheds some light on the matter. At least it portrays an ironic twist that should give viewers something to think about once they stop laughing. That won’t happen till the credits are over.
RELATED REPORTS FROM THE INQUISITR
In Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil, the main characters, Tucker and Dale, are sweet, goofy “redneck” characters who happen to gain ownership of a dilapidated cabin in the woods. They are attacked by a group of rather clumsy preppy college kids, most of whom are convinced Tucker and Dale are Texas Chainsaw types.
Isn’t this sort of mutual fear based on stereotypes the core issue of all disagreements from office politics to international intrigue? Still, stereotypes are only harmful if people believe them. These types of myths are exactly what Grammarist says the phrase “redneck” infers with “uneducated with outdated or discriminatory views.” Viewers should keep that in mind as they enjoy the films.
The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus has gained the world’s attention as Daryl Dixon. He might help the image of “rednecks,” and perhaps, he will even erode the negative stereotype.
[Featured Image by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images]