Posted on December 9, 2020

‘Hillbilly Elegy’ Critics Show They Still Despise ‘Deplorables’

Glenn H. Reynolds, New York Post, December 3, 2020

Elites won’t allow any sympathy for poor whites

Netflix’s new adaptation of JD Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy” is devastating for the left’s political narrative. How do I know that? Because so many leftists are trying to keep people from watching it.

Critics complain that the movie has too many noble country folk — though neither Vance’s 2016 memoir nor the film version is exactly focused on nobility as such. They even gripe that the autobiography of a white guy from the hill country doesn’t have any major black characters. Well, yes.

For a film made out of a bestselling book by a well-known liberal filmmaker (Ron Howard) and featuring Glenn Close, Amy Adams and Gabriel Besso, the movie seems surprisingly controversial. And why? Because, as I mentioned above, it’s devastating for the left’s political narrative.


The old Southern Democrats maintained the allegiance of poor whites by making sure those poor whites felt they could look down on blacks. The modern Democratic Party maintains the allegiance of ­upper-middle-class whites by making sure they can look down on lower-class whites. By ­humanizing those lower-class whites, Netflix’s “Hillbilly Elegy” calls the whole enterprise into question.

Humanizing the working class was once what Democrats were about. But no longer.

After World War II and the G.I. Bill, a new managerial class emerged in the United States. A college education became not merely a rite of passage for the well-off, but a necessary passport, economically and especially socially, to the upper middle class. {snip}

That meant, of course, that those who had entered the ­upper ranks did what the insecure lower tiers of aristocracy always do: devote a lot of attention to distinguishing themselves from the non-elite.

In America, class war is disguised as cultural war, and cultural war is often waged under the guise of fighting racism. Thus, the Deplorables had to be cast as racists, though it wasn’t the working class that redlined neighborhoods or set college ­admissions policies.

And that means that they can’t be humanized, or shown to be victims. The sympathy of the upper classes is doled out in careful measure, toward select targets.