RIP Joe Bageant

28 Mar

The media shitstream was so engorged last week (who really cares about the passing of a mediocre actress?) that I missed a really important piece of news—the passing of (self-styled ) redneck commentator Joe Bageant (Deer Hunting with Jesus,, Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir ):

Q: How do you know if you are rich, middle class or poor in America?

A: When you go to work, if your name is on the building — you’re rich; if your name is on an office door — you’re middle class; if your name is on your shirt — you’re poor…and, if someone else’s name is on your hand-me-down work shirt.

Here’s a few moments of Joe

It’s well worth looking at one of Bageant’s last essays,America, Your Peeps are So Dumb? Ignorance and courage in the age of Lady Gaga:

If you hang out much with thinking people, conversation eventually turns to the serious political and cultural questions of our times. Such as: How can the Americans remain so consistently brain-fucked? Much of the world, including plenty of Americans, asks that question as they watch U.S. culture go down like a thrashing mastodon giving itself up to some Pleistocene tar pit.

One explanation might be the effect of 40 years of deep fried industrial chicken pulp, and 44 ounce Big Gulp soft drinks. Another might be pop culture, which is not culture at all of course, but marketing. Or we could blame it on digital autism: Ever watch commuter monkeys on the subway poking at digital devices, stroking the touch screen for hours on end? That wrinkled Neolithic brows above the squinting red eyes?

But a more reasonable explanation is that, (A) we don’t even know we are doing it, and (B) we cling to institutions dedicated to making sure we never find out.

To quote Joe, “We don’t last, and there’s no warranty.” So it goes.

One Response to “RIP Joe Bageant”


  1. Notes on Henry Giroux: # 1 | ourmaninboston - August 12, 2014

    […] Giroux and scholar has been on my radar for a number of years. With Barbara Ehrenreich the late Joe Bageant, Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky he formed a part of a useful palliative for my fears that advocates […]

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