White trash has come a long way since the days of the inbred hillbilly psychopaths Burt Reynolds killed with a bow and arrow in 1972’s Deliverance. On the whole, they’ve tended to become less freakishly inbred, less likely to sexually assault unsuspecting adventurers, and much less skilled at playing the banjo. Like the humble raccoon emerging from the woods and adapting to more urban ways, these beer-swilling, mustachioed, mulletted, plaid shirt-wearing, foul-mouthed, socially inept petty criminals are these days more likely to be found living in trailer parks, driving pickup trucks and recklessly firing the guns they shouldn’t be allowed to own. All of this of course represents a total stereotype. Not all raccoons have guns. Either way, though, we give you 13 of the funniest white trash movie stereotypes.
13. Willie T. Stokes – Bad Santa (2003)
In Terry Zwigoff’s 2003 black comedy Bad Santa, not only did the lead actor have more of a white trash name than that of his character, but by his own admission he was genuinely drunk during filming. Billy Bob Thornton plays alcoholic sex maniac Willie T. Stokes, who together with his “little helper” Marcus (played by Tony Cox) uses his Christmas gigs to rob the shopping malls where they work. Willie is hardly what you’d hope for from a shopping mall Santa. Staggering into the grotto smashed out of his mind and beating the crap out of an ornamental donkey, he horrifies his audience of kids and their parents. Then when a child comments that his Santa beard isn’t real, Willie responds with all the restraint and eloquence you’d expect from a white trash alcoholic by telling the kid that his real beard fell out because he “loved a woman who wasn’t clean.” Pure class.
12. Ernest P. Worrell – Ernest Goes to Jail (1990)
Love him or loathe him, vest- and cap-wearing idiot Ernest P. Worrell, played by Jim Varney, is a great white trash specimen. In John R. Cherry III’s 1990 movie Ernest Goes to Jail, Ernest unwittingly gets switched with death-sentenced crime boss Felix Nash (also played by Varney) during a tour of a jail while he’s on jury duty. Our rubber-faced protagonist is eventually put in the electric chair, but as you’d expect from an Ernest film, this doesn’t bring proceedings to a halt. Instead, the experience gives him the capacity to discharge electricity from his hands, and a second electrocution then bestows him with the power to fly. By the end of the movie, Ernest has achieved everything a white trash moron could wish for: he’s made it out of prison and acquired a truckload of superpowers in the process. Well, almost everything said moron could dream of – after all, he didn’t get an unlimited supply of beer.
11. Tom “Taste” Felton – Date Night (2010)
After snagging a couple’s reservation at a fancy New York restaurant, Phil (played by Steve Carell) and Claire Foster (portrayed by Tina Fey) become embroiled in a blackmail plot involving a mobster; such is the set-up in director Shawn Levy’s 2010 comedy, Date Night. To try to save their lives, the leads track down the people who made the booking at the upmarket eatery. And surprisingly, it was white trash couple Taste, portrayed by James Franco, and his stripper girlfriend Whippit (played by Mila Kunis). In true stereotype style, Taste sports the obligatory bad facial hair and sleeveless shirt-with-trucker hat combo, and he’s covered in tattoos – the classiest of them being Whippit’s face on his chest. Reluctant to leave their apartment, even though they fear the gangsters are on their trail, Whippit says, “Maybe leaving isn’t such a good idea. This is our home,” but Taste ever-so-seriously pounds his fist on the chest tattoo and spouts, “This is your home.” What’s more, it does the trick, sort of, triggering a passionate make-out session and leaving the Fosters standing awkwardly in the room until the trashy pair make their exit through the window.
10. Earl Bassett – Tremors (1990)
In the fantastic Ron Underwood-directed 1990 comedy horror movie Tremors, Fred Ward plays handyman Earl Bassett, alongside Kevin Bacon (well, he is the center of the universe, after all), who portrays his friend Valentine McKee. Living in a former mining town, life for the two friends is pretty dull – that is, until the “Graboids,” a species of giant, carnivorous sandworms, start killing off residents. As the film opens, Earl is found asleep in the back of a beat-up old pickup truck. Decked out in a denim shirt and – you guessed it – a trucker hat, Earl spends a good deal of the movie in slack-jawed bewilderment about the bizarre monsters attacking his town. But when you need an expert opinion on the origins of these deadly creatures, you can always count on white trash scientific genius. Earl’s opinion? “I vote for outer space. No way these are local boys.” Not a bad guess, maybe, but as Val quips later on, “Who died and made you Einstein?”
9. Cousin Eddie – National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)
Harold Ramis’ 1983 comedy National Lampoon’s Vacation sees the Griswold family (played by Chevy Case, Beverly D’Angelo, Anthony Michael Hall and Dana Barron) on their way to the Walley World theme park and making a pit stop at the home of Ellen’s (D’Angelo) cousin Catherine (played by Miriam Flynn) and her husband Eddie, portrayed by Randy Quaid. Wearing a dirty wife-beater, drinking beer and leaning on the hood of a car, Eddie cuts quite a dashing figure – and you should see him when he slicks his hair back and dons his white slip-on shoes. Anyways, ever the generous host, Eddie is kind enough to offer Clark Griswold a beer – the can he’s been slugging from, while he opens a fresh one for himself. “Bet you could use a cool one, huh?” Now that’s hospitality. And with the usual sense of white trash propriety, Eddie also introduces his snarling dog to the Griswolds, saying, “You folks didn’t get to meet Dinky last night. He had the s**ts so he slept in the barn.” Nice.
8. Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski – The Big Lebowski (1998)
Do you go shopping in your shorts and bathrobe to buy milk for a cocktail that will soon find itself proudly adorning your unkempt facial hair? No? Then chances are you aren’t The Dude, played by Jeff Bridges in the brilliant 1998 Coen brothers film The Big Lebowski. He may be a complete slob – in fact, The Stranger, who narrates the story, describes The Dude as “high in the running for laziest worldwide” – but ultimately he’s a guy just trying to make his way through life with a minimum of hassle. In the course of attempting to get a replacement for his peed-on rug, The Dude runs headlong into a plot involving kidnapping, embezzlement and murder that he really doesn’t have the motivation or clarity of thought to deal with. A white trash slob? Maybe, but The Dude abides.
7. Joe Dirt – Joe Dirt (2001)
Joe Dirt is Dennie Gordon’s 2001 movie about the ultimate piece of white trash. After being picked on while cleaning the corridors of a radio studio, title character Joe, played by David Spade, is discovered by radio show host Zander Kelly (portrayed by Dennis Miller), who is fascinated by Joe’s impressive sideburns, moronic drawl, and mullet that most ice hockey players would covet. Even Kelly refers to Joe as a “white trash idiot,” but he nevertheless allows him to broadcast the story of his life. He may not own a pickup truck, but Joe does drive a replica 1969 Dodge Daytona. The car looks like it’s held together with chewing gum and grime, and it billows exhaust fumes from its rear end, out of which a ridiculously huge spoiler protrudes. Also, scraping the barrel for classiness, when Joe finds out that super-hot Jill (played by Jaime Pressly) might be his long-lost sister, he decides to tell her – although not before seizing the opportunity to get it on with her first.
6. Napoleon Dynamite – Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
Played by Jon Heder in Jared Hess’ 2004 film of the same name, Napoleon Dynamite isn’t at first glance your stereotypical white trash character. He doesn’t have a mustache or the traditional trucker outfit, but he does live in a badly decorated house with his loser older brother Kip (portrayed by Aaron Ruell), his grandmother (played by Sandy Martin), and his uncle Rico (portrayed by Jon Gries), who has just moved in from his camper van (now that’s white trash!). And let’s not forget his fashion sense, showcased by his curls and aviator-style glasses. Apart from a passion for ligers (“It’s like a lion and a tiger mixed… bred for its skills in magic”) and highly questionable Swingball skills, Napoleon has little going for him. But eventually he finds an outlet for his limited talents, campaigning for his new friend Pedro (played by Efren Ramirez) to become class president using some interesting dance moves. Something tells us that Napoleon’s historical namesake, a certain Monsieur Bonaparte, wouldn’t have been too impressed with his white trash counterpart – unless he shared a similar passion for the majestic liger, that is.
5. Jack Burton – Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Kurt Russell plays Jack “it’s all in the reflexes” Burton, a truck driver – good start – in John Carpenter’s awesome 1986 martial arts comedy Big Trouble in Little China. After a showdown involving Chinese gangs, Jack’s big rig, the Pork Chop Express, gets stolen. Jack is now not a happy man, and while he tries to save his friend’s fiancé from the forces of darkness, good luck anyone who gets in his way. Later, Jack discovers that although firing a gun into the air may be all well and good when sitting on the couch in your front yard, doing the same in the wrong location is liable to bring a shower of masonry down on your head, knocking you out cold. Don’t do what Jack did; just stay in school, kids. And don’t wear sleeveless shirts. Or have ‘80s hair. Anyways, once Jack finally gets his truck back, he decides to head out on the open road once more, rather than shacking up with love interest Gracie Law (played by Kim Cattrall). Maybe he’d had a tip-off about how terrible Sex and the City would be.
Image: YouTube/Luke Ballon
4. Herbert I. McDunnough – Raising Arizona (1987)
Ah, another Coen brothers classic, this time 1987’s Raising Arizona, starring Nicolas Cage as Herbert I. “Hi” McDunnough, a man who has had more run-ins with the law than warm beers in his trailer. When he and his wife, Edwina “Ed” McDunnough (played by Holly Hunter), discover that they can’t have children, and also can’t adopt – owing to Hi’s criminal record – they decide to steal a baby from a family who have just had quints. While they may be loving parents, Hi and Ed have a bit of an unconventional style, and Hi finds it very hard to leave his life of petty crime behind. Ed is none too pleased when Hi commits armed robbery at a convenience store for a pack of Huggies. Oh, and his method of education leaves a lot to be desired, too: “And this here’s the TV,” he says. “Two hours a day, either educational or football, so you don’t ruin your appreciation of the finer things.” You can take the boy out of the trailer park, but you can’t take the trailer park out of the boy, boy.
Image: YouTube/Jean Paul
3. Russell Casse – Independence Day (1996)
Operating well within the stereotype mold, Randy Quaid is back, this time portraying Russell Casse, an alcoholic and former pilot in Roland Emmerich’s 1996 sci-fi blockbuster Independence Day. After working as a crop duster for a while, Russell found that booze and piloting an aircraft didn’t really mix. If only he’d stuck to driving a truck while drinking, like all classic white trash dudes. (Note: Do not drink and drive a truck. It can seriously impair your ability to live in a trailer, use terrible grammar and wear a scruffy hat. Or do anything really.) In any case, Russell finally gets an opportunity to put his piloting skills to heroic, world-saving use, fighting the alien invaders that have come to conquer planet Earth. And he’s certainly on foul-mouthed form, with some emphatic verbal volleys aimed at the extra-terrestrial bad guys, like, “All right, you alien assholes. In the words of my generation: up yours!”
Image: YouTube/Alexander Taylor
2. Lawrence – Office Space (1999)
In the wake of the popularity of Beavis and Butt-head, Mike Judge wrote and directed 1999 comedy Office Space. In it, Diedrich Bader plays Lawrence, a construction worker employed by his neighbor, dissatisfied office worker Peter Gibbons (portrayed by Ron Livingstone). Long hair? Check. That accent? Check. Epic mustache? Check and double check, darn it. Demonstrating the same lofty ambition as his white trash brethren, when Lawrence is asked what he’d do if he had a million dollars, he responds, “Two chicks at the same time, man.” But he’s also a caring guy. The time he finds out that Peter may end up in jail for stealing company money, he imparts a little bit of wisdom to his friend. “Peter… watch out for your cornhole, bud.” Good advice for prison, good advice for life.
Some guys are just misunderstood. And that’s certainly the case with Tucker, played by Alan Tudyk, and Dale, portrayed by Tyler Labine, in Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, the hilarious and fairly gory 2010 comedy from director Eli Craig. While in the process of doing up the holiday home they’ve bought in the woods, the white trash brothers come across a group of equally stereotypical college kids on a camping trip. Unfortunately, having seen one too many killer redneck movies, these kids assume the sweet and gentle Dale and rough-around-the-edges but decent Tucker are twisted inbred killers and begin to wage war against them. While Tucker’s advice to Dale of “just smile and laugh” comes off as creepy as hell, the beautiful Allison (played by Katrina Bowden) begins to see his charming side as the bodies start flying. Poor Dale blames himself, saying, “It’s my fault. I should have known if a guy like me talked to a girl like you, somebody would end up dead.” And to be fair, that’s usually the way it goes.