If you find Trae 'The Liberal Redneck' Crowder's standup persona confusing, you're not the only one. Crowder recently told Civilized that a lot of people find it hard to believe a Southerner like himself (born and raised in Tennessee) could possibly be a liberal.
"I've had so many people say to me, 'You're like seeing a unicorn,' And I always tell them, 'No, I'm really not. I get why you think that, but it's really not true.' Yes, we are the minority, but there's still a whole lot of us in terms of sheer numbers. The other side is way louder though, so people don't know that we exist. But I'm not a unicorn."
And some rednecks refuse to believe that one of their own would describe himself with the l-word. "'No real redneck likes gays or transgender people' or whatever, that's what they say," he added.
A few critics are even convinced that he's a hoax, or worse yet, a government conspiracy.
"Some ultra-liberals genuinely don't believe that anybody with my background and who sounds like me could possibly think the same things they do or feel the same way they do about stuff," Crowder explained. "Sometimes people misconstrue that as trying to be an apologist or trying to act like that other, uglier side of the South doesn't exist. And that's not what I'm doing. That exists too. But they can't conceive of agreeing with a self-proclaimed redneck about anything, so they think I must be lying about one of the two, at least."
They suspect there's a conspiracy theory going on, like you're posing as the one to push some sort of agenda for the other.
Yeah, one of the funniest things that I've seen on the internet about me is some guy said he had figured me out. What he said was that I'm actually a liberal Jew actor from New York who was hired originally by the Obama administration to spread progressive propaganda among the American South.
That's pretty elaborate.
Very elaborate, yeah.
I like the idea of weaponizing comedy. Like someone said, "Every other tactic we've tried hasn't worked, so let's try jokes and infiltrate them that way."
Right, yeah, I've seen some wild shit about me. The whole thing is pretty crazy, but I feel like I should say the vast majority of the feedback that I get is really, really positive. I think most people who come across my videos or whatever and don't like it, I think most of them just turn it off and go about their day. But I still get plenty of online bullshit, but it's outweighed 95-5 by the good things I hear from people.
So you haven't gotten that much backlash from your persona?
Only really on the internet. I've found that people definitely hate me, but they don't hate me enough yet to leave their basement and call me a queer. It only extends to online bashing of me.
Haven't riled them up enough yet.
That's right [laughs]. But restricting it to online, yes, I get that kind of thing a lot. And you're the first person who's ever predicted that it would be from both sides. Because it is. I do get it from super rednecky people and also super liberal people. And I find that very interesting and also funny cuz those two groups of people have never agreed on anything else in the history of the earth until they came together and agreed that I am full of shit.
So in an odd way, you are a uniter.
Yeah, exactly. Bringing people together through mutual hatred of me.
Is there one redneck stereotype that really bothers you or that you'd like to break down more than the others?
For me personally, on a personal level, the idea that anyone who has an accent or a twang like I have or any other dialect is an idiot, or slow or uneducated. That's one that I've taken personally my whole life and I've always had a chip on my shoulder about it.
But if you want to talk about the one that is most ridiculous, it would probably be the cousin fucking. The inbred southerner. Now I ain't saying that shit don't ever happen, but that's not really a thing. Like racists and homophobics definitely exist, and they exist in quantities high enough that I can understand the jokes and the stereotypes, even though I think the majority of people in the South are not hateful inside. But the whole inbred thing — I grew up in one of the most rural, redneck-ass areas you can find in the South, and I didn't see none of that shit.
Do you stereotypes of liberals bug you?
You know what's weird? I'm absolutely a liberal pretty much across the board when it comes to issues and beliefs. But those stereotypes about liberals don't bother me at all. It's only the ones about rednecks that bother me. When the other side calls me stuff like snowflake, I could not give a shit less about that. It doesn't affect me at all. But I didn't choose where I was born, or where I'm from, or how I grew up, so I guess that's why I take that shit more personally than the liberal stuff.
And I'm not trying to say all the liberal stereotypes are true. That's not what I'm saying. I'm just saying they don't really bother me. They can say whatever they want about liberals and it's not gonna piss me off.
Do you ever feel any resentment when you see people imitate Southerners? Because you see a lot of backlash nowadays when people imitate other races or mock other cultures, but ridiculing Southerners and playing up those stereotypes gets a pass across the board. Does that ever irk you?
I'm not gonna lie. That has also kind of bothered me. I used to talk about it onstage in a bit that revolved around the idea that for whatever reason we — "we" being rednecks, hillbilly, poor white trash — are the only group left that's just completely and totally okay to ruthlessly mock and everyone just laughs. No one gives a shit ever.
I always did think it was bullshit, but I don't make too much of a stink about it. I'm a comedian, so to me, it's all fair game. Know what I mean? I'm a comedian, so I make a point not to get offended by shit, especially if it's related to humor, which is important because that's what I do. So I don't want to be hypocritical that way.
And the other thing is, bitching about that kinda thing has an element of "white man's burden" to it. Know what I mean? Like, I'm a straight white guy bitching about people being prejudiced. It just doesn't usually go over well. But still, I do think it's a little fucked up and a little shitty that poor white people, especially Southern ones, are just fair game for everything when we've decided that no one else is.
But I'm not gonna get too up-in-arms about it because I honestly think that a big reason why that is the case is because, unlike most of the other groups, who have stood up for themselves over the years and said, "You know, it's not really cool for you to say shit about us." And rightfully so. But rednecks have never really done that and aren't ever gonna do it because one of the rules of being a redneck is you don't give a fuck about what other people think of you.
Are there any other core rules to being a redneck — beyond the Jeff Foxworthy material?
Funny you say Jeff Foxworthy cuz I actually think Jeff Foxworthy summed it up pretty well once when somebody asked him to define what a redneck was. He said it's the complete and utter lack of sophistication. And I think that's pretty appropriate. And I think in our book we added an additional quality or characteristic: not giving a damn about other people's opinions or whatever. So I feel between the two of those, that covers it.