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"Hillbilly" stereotype discussed in Tuesday panel - The Trail Blazer: Life & Arts

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"Hillbilly" stereotype discussed in Tuesday panel

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Posted: Friday, April 12, 2019 3:40 pm

The Hillbilly stereotype of Appalachian culture and media was the highlight of debate during the Tuesday 9 event in ADUC. 

Hillbilly Panel
Dr. Tom Kiffmeyer, professor of history, Dr. Sue Tallichet, professor of sociology and filmmaker Ashley York answer questions Tuesday, April 9, 2019, at a panel discussion for the documentary films "Stranger With a Camera" and "Hillbilly" at the theater in ADUC. Photo by John Flavell By John Flavell

The event began with a viewing of the films “Stranger With A Camera,” in which a Canadian filmmaker was shot and killed by a man in Eastern Kentucky while filming a documentary, and "Hillbilly", a documentary film that examines a hundred years of media and the iconic hillbilly stereotype in film and television. 

Afterward each viewing, a panel of guests had a discussion with the audience about the popular view of Appalachian people by the public. 

“When I first started producing documentary films over ten years ago, I always focused on our Appalachian region,” said Middleton, the event mediator.  “The narrative of Appalachia is always changing. The culture, the people, the reasons why we should either look away or pay attention.” 

Although he doesn’t consider himself to be a hillbilly, he is a proud Kentuckian that has always been bothered by the stereotyping of Eastern Kentucky through things like reality TV to ad companies. 

Through planning this event, Middleton was looking to find out what local residents think about this region being at the heart of many stereotypes.

“The main goal was the help start a discussion about how our region of Kentucky is viewed both nationally, and internationally negative based upon media representation of Appalachia, and hillbillies,” he added.

The panelists  included in the panel were, Dr. Tom Kiffmeyer Professor of History, Dr. Sue Tallichet Professor of Sociology and Ashley York, filmmaker co-director and co-producer of the film Hillbilly. 

The film and panel held discussion that brought attention to the damage media and culture has caused and looking to what the future could hold for the region.