2023-01-18Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/26990
This Country Ain’t Low - The Country Music of Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash as a Form of Redistributive Politics
Sprach- und literaturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
This article examines how the country music styles of Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash serve as a form of redistributive politics in which ideological struggles are engaged in ways that dissolve low/high culture distinctions and instead offer a mass-accessible avenue through which cultural recognition is conferred to marginalized identities. This ranges from class-based social critique in Dolly Parton’s song “9 to 5” to the condemnations of the carceral state in Johnny Cash’s work. Engaging country music as an arsenal for social progressivism is not only an underexplored topic in pop cultural studies, but it also provides fertile ground for illuminating how perceptions of the genre are impacted by stereotypical images drawn from the “culture wars” and how these images interrelate with implicit low/high distinctions. For instance, what does the commercial success of Parton’s and Cash’s works say about the low/high distinction? In what ways do their songs, lyrics, aesthetics, and public personae offer a distinctive space for a type of discourse that affords recognition to oppressed communities? Through addressing these questions, I seek to illustrate how prominent segments of country music are resistant to the mere reproduction of cultural hegemony. In doing so, they actively disrupt widespread conceptions of low culture as reactionary.