Attributional Art from Appalachia

I recommend viewing Tucker & Dale versus Evil, a fun, crazed, and entertaining mashup of hillbilly and preppie stereotypes mixed with slasher horror themes. To take the movie seriously requires that you laugh throughout and not as a release to horror, but to the persuasion insights the movie produces.

We begin with a group of preppie college boys and girls in the rustic woods, starting a camping Spring Break. They stop at an old general store filled with supplies and stereotypes. The kids see the stock precursors of doom lacking only the Banjo Boy from Deliverance. Then Tucker and Dale arrive on the scene, their beatup pickup truck filled with chainsaws, weed whips, shovels, and axes. Dale spies a pretty co-ed and falls in love with her, but knows she’d reject him. His buddy Tucker chastises Dale for selling himself short and cajoles him into just making polite conversation. With a good heart and clean intentions, Dale walks to the girl and her group.

The camera angle reverses and we see Tucker and Dale, two genuinely good, good-old boys, through the perceptions of the college kids. They see hillbilly horror. The pickup truck laden with instruments of torture and terror. The bad clothes and hick accents of Tucker and Dale. The nightmare begins . . .

I’ll leave the remainder of the movie for your viewing pleasure and discuss only the set up. This movie starts with the basic plot, theme, and style of the hillbilly horror film then proceeds to think through the persuasive effects of stereotypes, expectancies, and attribution. Tucker and Dale are West Virginia hicks, no doubt. The talk, the look, the walk all mark them. They are also kind, sweet, thoughtful, considerate, helpful; I’ve met them many times in my West Virginia travels. But, the preppies only see dangerous hicks and the movie takes off from there.

Throughout the film you see the interplay of expectancies, stereotypes, and attributions as they drive the crazed behavior of everyone. The college kids think they are being hunted by Tucker and Dale while Tucker and Dale think the college kids are crazy on drugs and are engaged in a weird fraternity ritual. The film is a constant collision of the cognitive processes we observe every day at the Persuasion Blog and Primer.

If you simply desire a fun movie night, rent Tucker & Dale versus Evil. But, please, keep an eye out for the persuasion fundamentals, too.

P.S. Everyone, including Hollywood, misses the physiognomy of West Virginia. Think of John C. Calhoun. High cheekbones. Taut-skinned faces. Wiry. Everyone defaults to the thick bearlike mountain man with dark hair and a thick full beard. The classic look is thin, but tough, male or female. Read David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed to understand.

Here’s John Calhoun.

Now, the WVU Mountaineer.

And, the Jerry West Statue in front of the WVU Coliseum.

Before Jerry West was known as Mr. Clutch and the model for the NBA logo, he was Zeke from Cabin Creek, West Virginia.