June 26, 2005

Rex multum loquitur

“Satire is a sort of glass wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own." – Jonathan Swift

"King of the Hill" is a great show. I've always enjoyed watching it as a satire of good ole' heartland America. But, not that surprisingly, a lot of other people—those comprising heartland America and other reddish counties, not to mention friends of mine from back in Tennessee—watch it and relate to the embattled conservatism of Hank and his buddies, perhaps seeing the influx of liberal multicuralism into the fictional town of Arlen as the real target of the show's humor. Believe it or not, such ambiguity existed well before the Age of Irony, being a common characteristic of good, subtle satire.

An article in today's New York Times Magazine, "'King of the Hill' Democrats," describes, a little belatedly, some of the cultural import of this TV show, telling how North Carolina's two-term Democratic governor actually consults it regularly for political guidance. According to the article:
The composition of the audience for ''King of the Hill'' is telling. You might expect that a spoof of a small-town propane salesman and his beer-drinking buddies would attract mostly urban intellectuals, with their highly developed sense of irony. In fact, as Governor Easley long ago realized, the show's primary viewer looks a lot like Hank Hill. According to Nielsen Media Research, the largest group of ''King of the Hill'' viewers is made up of men between the ages of 18 and 49, and almost a quarter of those men own pickup trucks.
The article's worth reading, doing better than your average attempt by the NY Times to comprehend the mythical beast of the red-state Other. Howard Dean might do well to take note.

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