Hillbilly Effigy

A Li'l Abner for our times

[A holler in Bullpizzle, Kentuck. Folks is playin’ mumbly-peg and throwin’ parcels inta trucks and lookin’ all rustic-like. MOMMA, in overalls, is a-rollin’ her eyes ostentatiously. MEE-MAW is a-squintin’ at her. JD, a chubby mite, is a-nursin’ a bruise he got from a whuppin’.]

MEE-MAW: Why is you so sour alla time?

MOMMA: I hate it here! I wanna go back to Honky Crimeville, Ohio, where I can get addicted to heroin!

MEE-MAW: Why’n you care none fo’ yo’ young-uns?

MOM: Aw, you leave me alone, ol’ lady. I’m a product of my times!

MEE-MAW: [To JD, grasping the sides of his head] JD! Neva’ forget way yo’ fum, even if you learns to read an’ write!

JD: But Mee-Maw, I already know how to read and write! I’m 11 years old!

MEE-MAW: [Rearing back with her hands on her hips] Well, ain’t you a biggity-bug!

[CUT TO: MOM’s house in Honky Crimeville.]

MOM: Hey JD, I got a new beau, and a relapse.

[She enters throes of delirium tremens.]

JD: [Balling up and throwing his homework across the room] God, why do I even bother!

MEE-MAW: [Rushing into the room and grasping the sides of JD’s head] Nah you lissen here! Yo’ momma done had twenny relapses, an’ thass one too many, so you is a-stayin’ with me!

JD: But I’ll die of secondhand smoke!

MEE-MAW: Nah, don’ you fret none, JD, ‘cause ah’m a-gonna in-still ya with a work ethic, an’ you gonna end up with some mighty fine flashbacks!

[She drags him away. DISSOLVE TO: A flash-forward to JD as a strapping young man self-consciously dining from fancy plates on a white tablecloth with a bunch of Yale snobs.]

SNOB 1: The quinoa fork is fifth from the left, my hayseed friend.

[Effete snickers all around.]

SNOB 2: Tell me, “J” “D,” what is it like being inbred?

JD: [Seething] We don’t use that term, sir. In Kentuck, where I spent a few months a year as a child, we refer to it as incest. I assume you can tell by my seething that I, a decommissioned Marine, wish to kill you.

SNOB 2: Oh my stars and garters! [Faints]

SNOB 3: [Thinks] I like this hillbilly’s jib, as well as the way it is cut! I shall afford him the chance to practice law and make a name for himself amongst reactionaries.

[JD's phone rings; it’s from his sister LINDSAY. He excuses himself and leaves the room to answer it.]

LINDSAY: Momma had yet another relapse. Can you risk your career to come to see her and also have some flashbacks?

JD: If you could see me grimace dramatically, you’d know that I will.

[CUT TO: A party on someone’s lawn in Kentuck. JD is talking with some old friends.]

OLD FRIEND 1: You’re having trouble finding a rehab for your Momma? Now’s a good time to remind people that — [makes air quotes] “us hill folk” always take care of our own. I’ll get my old lady to pull some hillbilly strings.

JD: Thanks. That bit where the hillbillies all took their hats off at Pee-Paw’s funeral just wasn’t carrying the theme.

OLD FRIEND 2: That’s all right, JD. Now have you a fried bologna.

[CUT TO: A motel where JD has taken MOMMA to get clean, putting his law career at risk.]

MOMMA: Honey, will you run across that highway and get me some Funyuns?

JD: Sure.

[JD does so, flashing-back to beat the band the whole time, and when he gets back MOMMA is relapsing yet again.]

JD: I love you, Momma, but it’s time for some tough love, meaning me pursuing my own best interests and acting moral about it.

MOMMA: [Looking offscreen] Third Act already? [To JD] I understand, son.

[CUT TO: JD VANCE, all grown and having written a best-seller, giving a lecture to a bunch of rich conservatives.]

JD: And that is the lesson my Momma and my Mee-Maw and my Pee-Paw and my Gee-Gaw and my Hee-Haw taught me in hills of the App-a-LAH-chia: Hill folk are proud folk, who in our charming argot “never want nothin’ from nobody,” and when they do it’s OxyContin; and that means social programs for the poor and the drug-addicted — yes, even if they’re white! — are a waste of precious government resources that could go to tax cuts for the wealthy.

[Tumultuous applause.]

MEE-MAW, in heaven: Thass my bo-ee! Ah wisht I was there raht now, so’s ah could grasp th’ sides of his head!