Whiteness, Man: Whiteness and King of the Hill
MetadataShow full item record
Type of Work14 pages
DepartmentCenter for Art & Media - Communication & Media Studies
RightsCollection may be protected under Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Law. To obtain information or permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Goucher Special Collections & Archives at 410-337-6347 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SubjectsResearch -- Periodicals.
I wrote this paper for my Race and Media course, where we were tasked with analyzing the racial imagery in a piece of media of our choosing. Immediately, I knew that I wanted to write about King of the Hill, an underrated show that will always be close to my heart. Drawing on the critical race theory of Michael Brown and Richard Dyer, I argue that King of the Hill subverts hegemonic whiteness by naming the more subversive ways in which whiteness can operate. Whiteness is seen as invisible, as neutral: it has no racial imagery. Dyer argues that this invisibility cements white supremacy by deeming white narratives and experiences to be the universal norm. King of the Hill names this whiteness and creates space for critique. The show uses satire to explore whiteness within blue collar, middle America in a way that doesn’t allow its characters “off the hook” for their racial incompetence. However, unlike Family Guy and other satire peers, King of the Hill does this without relying on overtly racist characters that white audiences can comfortably distance themselves from. The critique of whiteness present in King of the Hill invites white viewers to critically examine their own whiteness and how it functions within society. Just as the show’s characters are not “let off the hook” for their racial incompetence, neither are white viewers. Within the paper, the episodes “Westie Side Story,” “Racist Dawg,” and “Traffic Jam” are analyzed through this critical race theory lens. I had watched King of the Hill as a child, so I really enjoyed revisiting the series from a critical perspective. Reflecting on the show forced me to reflect on my own whiteness and my positionality as a viewer, and I encourage white readers to do the same!