Hillbilly, a forgotten gem

Hillbilly is a revolutionary film that everyone can grow from watching. This spectacular film deserves more acclaim as it starts a conversation about the long-unaddressed discrimination faced by the Appalachians.

Hillbilly was released in 2018 and made available for streaming in January 2019. This picture was produced by Ashley York, a film producer from Kentucky and Sally Rubin, a documentary filmmaker and editor from Newton, Massachusetts according to (Rotten Tomatoes). This groundbreaking film received the award for the best documentary feature at the LA Film Festival 2018 writes (IMBd). The movie is widely available for streaming and can be watched on Tubi, Prime Video, Vudu, Apple TV and Google Play, in the span of 125 minutes. This film is composed of interviews with authors and activists such as Barbara Ellen Smith, Silas House and Bell Hooks, as well as everyday people.

The documentary discusses the struggles of rural America and the stereotypes and stigma surrounding poverty in the region of Appalachia. This film walks viewers through stereotypes propagated by the TV show industry such as Hee Haw and the Beverly Hillbillies and how series such as these led to people’s association of laziness, sexual promiscuity and savagery with people of the region. The documentary addresses the media’s portrayal of Appalachia as well and documents the detrimental effects that it has had on how other parts of the United States the mountain Range and its population. 

Hillbilly not only speaks to the stereotypes faced by the regions but tells of the harmful environmental and societal impacts of the mining industry on the region as well. As the industry’s presence has caused erosion and has led to unnatural destruction. The film discusses the societal impact too and tells of how from the time of the industrialists following the Civil War the coal industry has had great control over the region. Depicting the region’s populace as violent and dangerous in an attempt to maintain power. 

The film also dives into political polarity and the common theme of isolation felt among the population in the region. It reflects on the region’s overall support for Trump during the 2016 Presidential elections and causes viewers to empathize with people’s situations despite one’s political affiliation. 

Hillbilly is a wonderfully thoughtful movie that provides a more analytical approach to documenting the region’s hardships than JD Vance’s book and film Hillbilly Elegy. While both overlap in themes and topics Hillbilly is composed of interviews with authors and activists in comparison to Hillbilly Elegy which is written and documented in the form of a memoir. 

This film represents an unheard perspective; I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys learning about systemic poverty and discrimination. A lot of insight can be gained from watching this film on the increasing isolation faced by rural America.

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