Between Netflix ponying up $45 million for the adaptation of J.D. Vance’s whitewashed vision of Appalachia and Liam Neeson revealing his racist revenge fantasies while out on the promotional circuit for a film for which he’s making eight figures, this week’s news cycle contains an array of solid reminders that white supremacy is not just the province of presidents and backwards racists in “Fuck Your Feelings” t-shirts, but is also seriously lucrative shit trafficked in by some of the culture’s most recognizable and powerful purveyors.
As for Neeson claiming he’s not racist for wandering the streets looking to kill any random black person, I will offer the rolliest of eyes. (And as a historian I will simply remind everyone of the fact that randomized violence visited upon black bodies is one of the most visible, obvious component elements of white supremacy historically.)
While I have you here, on the subject of Vance and Appalachia, those looking for another actual good book on Appalachia should check out Jessie Wilkerson’s To Live Here, You Have to Fight: How Women Led Appalachian Movements for Social Justice. It’s a great accompaniment to Elizabeth Catte’s What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia.
EDIT 1: Watkins correctly points out that I’m actually underselling what Neeson did by calling it a “racist revenge fantasy.” He writes in comments: I think ‘racist revenge fantasy’ kind of undersells what Neeson copped to. It would be marginally less horrifying if he’d admitted harboring fantasies about beating some random black person. But on his own account, he formed an intention to actually do it, carrying a weapon as he looked for a random (but for his race) victim to murder.
EDIT 2: A friend noted Leslie Mac’s tweet thread on this, which is worth reading. “Racist virtue signaling” indeed.