On cable TV, there's a whole truckload of reality shows that make fun of working-class, white Southern culture. They are some of the most popular and talked about new shows, too, such as Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Duck Dynasty.
MTV tried cashing in on the redneck TV trend with its own hyped-up platform for young Southern kids behaving badly, Buckwild. It played like a Southern-fried version of Jersey Shore. Its stars were a dimwitted crew of young people in West Virginia drinking hard and riding pickup trucks through ditches filled with mud.
Brother and sister Rod Dreher and Ruthie Leming grew up in a small town in rural Louisiana. Dreher left the tightknit community to pursue a journalism career but returned home after Leming died of lung cancer in 2010.
Credit Debbie Elliot / NPR
"People waited for hours for her wake to come in and pay their respects," Dreher says of the United Methodist Church where his sister was buried. "It was a moment of intense grace."
Credit Debbie Elliott / NPR
Ruthie Leming's friends and Rod Dreher (right) gather for a crawfish boil at Ronnie Morgan's camp by the Starhill Riviera. "When I'm gone," Morgan says, "the only thing that's going to show up to say I was here is the people I left behind."
Credit Debbie Elliott / NPR
The Drehers — Lucas (from left), Rod, Matthew, Julie and Nora — sit on the side stoop at their new home in St. Francisville, La.
When he was a teenager, journalist Rod Dreher couldn't wait to escape Louisiana. Now he has found his way home again in grief — after his sister's death from lung cancer. It was "in light" of that tragedy, Dreher says, that he discovered the value of community. It's the subject of his new book, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life.
Alex Rawls, a New Orleans-based writer and editor who runs the music and culture website MySpiltMilk.com, was the guest editor of The Oxford American magazine’s 2012 Southern Music Issue, which was entirely dedicated to all things Louisiana music. He also helped put together its accompanying album.
And Rawls tells WRKF’s Ashley Westerman that even though this new music comes from a younger generation and may sound a little different - it is still authentically Louisiana.
The list of people Steve Schapiro has photographed reads more like a Who’s Who list of the 1960s and ‘70s. During his career, Schapiro worked for magazines such as Life, Time, Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair and captured the images of influential politicians, celebrities and musicians. He also extensively covered the Civil Rights Movement in the South.
Those icons - Jackie Kennedy, Ray Charles and James Baldwin - are who Schapiro labels "Heroes" in an exhibit of work is on display at the West Baton Rouge Museum in Port Allen.
Back in the early 1970s, a young woman at Radcliffe College faced a choice: Stay in school and get her degree, or drop out and become a legendary blues singer and guitarist. It's pretty clear Bonnie Raitt made the right choice.
The 85th Academy Awards are this coming Sunday, and Louisiana is very well represented in terms of movies filmed in the Bayou State as well as actors with roots here.
Beasts of the Southern Wild, which was shot in the Terrebonne Parish town of Montegut, has been nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay Adaptation.
At 9, Houma native Quvenzhané Wallis is the youngest nominee ever for Best Actress for her lead role in the film. In the film, Wallis plays Hushpuppy - a rambunctious child who must overcome a great deal of adversity when her world falls apart.
Just inside a room on the second floor of the Louisiana State Museum's Presbytere, there's a large baby doll dress, big enough for a woman to wear. And one did.
The costume and the baby bottle next to it belonged to 85-year-old Miriam Batiste Reed, who was known as a baby doll and one of the first women to parade in Mardi Gras. The bottle and the dress are part of a new exhibition, They Call Me Baby Doll: A Mardi Gras Tradition.