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The Bitter Southerner Looks At Appalachia With Humor And Emotion

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Courtesy Illustration
The logo for "The Bitter Southerner Podcast"

“The Bitter Southerner Podcast” is an offshoot of an online magazine called The Bitter Southerner.  The podcast, which just completed its second season, is devoted to the culture of the South and produced with the support of Georgia Public Broadcasting. 

Host and editor Chuck Reece doesn’t shy away from topics that can be awkward to discuss. Reece himself grew up in north Georgia, in the foothills of the Appalachians, and has an affinity for the region. He has dedicated shows to controversial topics like the federally-owned power utility the Tennessee Valley Authority and the book “Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy.”

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Credit Georgia Public Broadcasting
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Georgia Public Broadcasting
Chuck Reece moderated a panel with "Squidbillies’" co-creators Dave Willis and Jim Fortier. They were also joined by Nashville-based songwriter Elizabeth Cook, who is one of the voice actors of the show.

“The Bitter Southerner Podcast” recently released an episode that explores how stereotypes are used in jokes about Appalachians in a cartoon called the “Squidbillies.” It’s an animated show that airs on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. Reece recently interviewed the creators of the show, and one of the voice actors, in front of a live studio audience at Georgia Public Broadcasting. 

“The two creators of that show, they take stereotypes and they turn it all the way up to 11,” Reece said in a later interview with West Virginia Public Broadcasting. “And it becomes so silly and so surreal. You can't help but laugh at it. It's not a show for everybody, by any means, but it was amazing that night. We had an audience of maybe 100 people. And I was amazed at how many people showed up who talked about how they had grown up.”

For Reece, the people of the South and Appalachia are not all that different. He noted that many of the people of Appalachia filtered from the ports in the northern parts of the U.S. and Virginia and then into the mountains. 

“I think there's an essential difference between the sort of people who would be drawn to a more isolated existence in the mountains where isolated existences are easy to maintain, than people who were drawn to the hubbub of the cities. Stereotypes define Appalachians as loners. You go find me a bunch of people who will more fiercely defend their small community than people in the Appalachian Mountains,” Reece said. 

Those people, and the similarities of the people or Appalachia and the South, are what The Bitter Southerner is all about. 

“Over the years of doing The Bitter Southerner, I have gotten to know, and had the chance to interview, more and more people from farther up in Appalachia, the more I recognize how we share the same experiences,” Reece said.  

Listen to the full episode of “The Bitter Southerner Podcast” about “Squidbillies,” which features some of the voices behind the Cartoon Network show. 


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