4. University of Michigan – Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music
As bizarre as some of these courses are, the overt prejudice in this women’s studies class at the University of Michigan is particularly offensive. The notion that one’s sexual identity somehow dictates musical preferences is an absurd stereotype, not a valid basis for a semester of academic work. Note the elitist condescension in the course description:
What kinds of LGBT people listen, dance, and socialize to country music? And what kinds of country music appeal to LGBT people? The notion of queer country fandom clashes with popular images of both “queer” and “country.” Queer identity is often associated with gay men, and urban, bourgeois, coastal lifestyles. Country music is linked to heterosexual white, rural, working-class, Southern, and Midwestern cultures and has often been invoked as a symbol of “redneck” bigotry. This seminar therefore asks how music that to many people sounds homophobic and racist serves as a medium for multicultural queer social and sexual exchange. Assignments include country listening and readings in country music studies, social science and humanities literature on U.S. rural queers, and social theory on class.
In a way, this course description makes sense. Country music artists really do throw the N word around far too often, and the anti-gay lyrics are a little much. Oh, wait, that’s rap music, not country. If you’re going to go after a musical genre for homophobia and racism, is it really country music that’s the pinnacle of bigotry?