Comedian earns the wrath of Appalachia
By Christina Myer
Poor Whitney Cummings. Never heard of her? She tried to boost her profile a bit recently by appearing on a late-night talk show to discuss her roots. Those would be here in the Mountain State, by the way.
What she managed was to prove that often for celebrities it is more important to make a spectacle than to demonstrate any real knowledge; and that political correctness isn’t about making sure EVERYONE is treated fairly, only the demographic groups in fashion at the time.
Sadly, those of us living in Appalachia, and particularly West Virginia, are still fair game when it comes to “jokes” that would be considered scandalously insensitive were they applied to anyone else.
Cummings, it seems, was appalled to find out after her father’s death that he was not from “Western Virginia,” as she had always believed, but from West Virginia. When the British host of the talk show said he was not familiar with West Virginia, she said “there’s a big difference between Virginia and West Virginia, like four chromosomes difference, it’s like the skin tag of Virginia.” She used other, more vulgar terms for our relationship with Kentucky, and lamented finding out she has “hillbilly DNA.”
There is no appropriate reaction to such a performance other than to feel sympathy for someone so undereducated and in need of attention. Those of us who understand having “hillbilly DNA” is a point of pride cannot help but to offer a “bless her heart,” to someone so deprived.
Surely the education she received growing up in Washington, D.C., included mention of the Civil War, and the only state born of that horrific period because its residents did not want to remain under the thumbs of those who were willing to fight and die to preserve their right to own slaves. Does that mean comedian, actress, producer, writer and director Cummings was disappointed to learn she did not have roots in the same state that as recently as two years ago hosted a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, which featured the waving of Confederate battle flags, Nazi flags and tiki torches?
Unfair to lump all Virginians into that category? Of course it is.
It’s tempting to think Cummings should know better, given most celebrities’ reactions to what they deem slurs and derogatory generalizations. What a shame that she does not.
Christina Myer is
executive editor of The Parkersburg News & Sentinel.