Hillbilly: Beyond the stereotypes in the heart of US’s Appalachia

Appalachian filmmaker returns home to examine the media’s stereotyping of hillbillies and the American cultural divide.

Filmmakers: Ashley York and Sally Rubin

Residents in the Appalachia region of the United States are used to the “hillbilly” stereotype.

It crops up everywhere in pop culture, from cartoons to TV shows to Hollywood films, portraying people with funny accents, backward ways and small-town attitudes.

Historically, images of abject poverty and lack of education have also dominated news coverage of the region.

It has fed into misunderstandings between urban and rural America and a cultural divide that has only deepened since the 2016 presidential election.

In this film called Hillbilly, an Appalachian filmmaker travels home to examine why the stereotype exists, how it affects her community, and what lies behind the simplistic portrayal. She also asks her family why they voted for US President Donald Trump, in a country that is more divided than ever.

Hillbilly journeys into the heart of the Appalachian coalfields, breaking down stereotypes and uncovering a set of artists and activists emerging from this historically misunderstood region.