Redneck goes from insult to badge of honor -
Published Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 1:00 am / Updated at 2:53 pm
Redneck goes from insult to badge of honor

They pull on cowboy boots, jump into pickups and crank up country music.

Some local folks who call themselves rednecks do all of that. But don't mistake them for the cartoonish people on TV reality shows about rednecks, programs that have grown the last few years.

Look a little deeper.

These self-proclaimed rednecks also like opera and ballroom dancing, and one guy might become a nurse.

They say the word describes people who are self-reliant, motivated, helpful and not worried about putting on appearances. They say that for them the word isn't the insult of the past — one that could mean everything from uneducated to intolerant.

“It's a hard-working, honest person,” said Larry Teichert, a 23-year-old diesel mechanic in Bellevue. “It's not a rebel flag, dirty baseball cap and dirty pair of jeans.”

So meet a few Omaha-area people who say they proudly wear the redneck badge:

* * *

Larry Teichert grew up on a farm in northeast Nebraska.

If a tractor broke down, his family didn't have the time or money to call a mechanic. So he learned to tackle problems himself.

He considers himself a redneck and said self-reliance is an important characteristic.

“It's your attitude,” he said. “You're the first person to get a roll of duct tape and bailing wire and fix something.”

He's now lives in Bellevue and works as a diesel mechanic. He knows how to rebuild engines and fix transmissions, which allows him to repair cars and motorcycles at home on the side to make a little extra money.

Teichert, 23, said part of being a redneck is how you treat others.

He'll fix friends' cars for free, such as when a buddy needed a new starter in his truck. And Teichert uses his own pickup to haul a friend's horses and trailer to shows in the region.

Fellow rednecks loan him tools or tackle work for him that he doesn't have experience with, such as electrical repairs.

Larry Teichert holds his favorite belt buckle, which depicts the "cowboy prayer." Teichert said his relationship with Jesus forms his values. RYAN SODERLIN/THE WORLD-HERALD

Teichert works part-time providing security at Rednecks, a bar and country dance club near 84th Street and West Center Road in Omaha.

He likes to country line dance and loves country singers like Tom T. Hall and Justin Moore.

But he also likes ballroom dancing and jamming to AC/DC and Def Leppard.

He said contrasts are part of his life.

His four-wheel-drive Ford pickup has a V-8 engine, and he jokes that the rig could “pull a house off its foundation.”

He also owns a small Chevy sedan that gets 40 miles to the gallon, perfect for running errands.

Even though he loves tools and engines, he once considered becoming a chef. He likes to cook, whether it's grilling steaks, fixing lasagna or whipping up a mean peach cobbler.

Teichert said it's a mistake for people to stereotype rednecks. They come from all types of backgrounds, he said, from country to city.

He likes wearing cowboy boots but knows some rednecks wouldn't think of buying a pair.

“It's not what you wear,” he said. “It's a way of life.”

* * *

Mike Kraus

Mike Kraus calls himself a redneck. Someday you might call him nurse.

He's a 21-year-old Omaha college student majoring in health care administration. He's thinking of following his mom into the nursing profession.

Kraus said helping people is an important part of the redneck life.

He does that a lot.

He works part-time at an Omaha hospital, and one of his duties is helping move patients from their beds to surgery or into their cars after they're released.

“You always try to put a smile on their faces,” said Kraus, a senior at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

He said he learned from his two older brothers the importance of helping others.

When Kraus was 2 his father died. His brothers stepped in and helped Kraus as he grew up, whether it was figuring out homework, giving him rides to school or letting him vent about any problems in his life.

He said working hard and having goals also are important for true rednecks. After he starts his nursing career he might specialize and become a nurse anesthetist or move into hospital administration.

Kraus said some reality TV shows about rednecks make them look lazy.

He said one exception is A&E's “Duck Dynasty,” which follows the folks at Duck Commander, a family business in Louisiana that is built on duck calls.

Kraus said that even though the family members are off-beat, they know how to run a successful business.

Kraus isn't a hunter. But he does love skeet shooting.

He also loves fishing for bluegill and whatever else he can catch at Omaha-area lakes.

For him the perfect day is catching a few fish with some buddies, then grilling burgers and sipping a beer or two.

Rednecks work hard, he said, but they also know how to have fun.

* * *

Most weekends you'll catch Dani Pollak at her mom's house for meatloaf or other home-cooked meals.

Staying close to family, she said, is important for her.

For her, redneck means making family and friends a big part of her life.

“You have to know that in the end, it's about what you did and who you loved,” she said.

Helping others is another key part of the redneck life.

She drives a Ford Ranger pickup. It's not the biggest truck Ford makes, but it's large enough she can help friends haul boxes and furniture when they move.

She also loves bringing soup and other food to sick friends.

Pollak, a 21-year-old receptionist, grew up in Bellevue and still lives there.

Even though she grew up in the city, she loves tossing out a line for catfish. She loves horses and still rides at a friend's stable in western Iowa.

Pollak said her dream is to live in the country.

When she was young she visited Washington, D.C., with her family. She hated her time there because it was such a big area with too many people and too much traffic.

“I felt so lost I cried every night,” she said.

She was raised listening to country music. Reba McEntire and Garth Brooks are her favorites.

She said some people stereotype rednecks.

“They think it's a buck-tooth, plaid-wearing town fool holding a shotgun,” she said.

Pollak said she likes a lot of things about country life, but she's more than that.

For example, her musical tastes go beyond country music. She likes opera and pop star Rihanna.

She owns cowgirl boots, and loves wearing them. But she has a closet full of other shoes from flats to high heels, and loves them all.

She said even though some people might have misconceptions about rednecks, it doesn't bother her. She said part of being a redneck is not worrying what others think about you.

“The thing with rednecks is they're not fake,” she said. “What you see is what you get.”

Larry Teichert of Bellevue calls himself a redneck. The diesel mechanic said he likes wearing cowboy boots but knows some rednecks wouldn't think of buying a pair. “It's not what you wear,” he said. “It's a way of life.” RYAN SODERLIN/THE WORLD-HERALD

Rednecks in popular culture


"Redneck Woman," Gretchen Wilson: "'Cause I'm a redneck woman/ I ain't no high class broad/ I'm just a product of my raising/ I say, 'hey ya'll' and 'yee-haw'"

"It's Alright To Be A Redneck," Alan Jackson: "It's alright to be a redneck/It's alright to work hard in the sun all day/Drink a couple beers after balin' hay."

"Redneck Yacht Club," Craig Morgan: "Side by side, there's five houseboat front porches/Astroturf, lawn chairs and tiki torches/ Regular Joes rockin' the boat, that's us/ The Redneck Yacht Club."

"(What This World Needs Is) A Few More Rednecks," Charlie Daniels Band: "What this world needs is a few more rednecks/ Some people ain't afraid to take a stand/ What this world needs is a little more respect/ For the Lord and the law and the workin' man."


Jeff Foxworthy: "If your lawn furniture used to be your living room furniture, you might be a redneck."

Larry the Cable Guy: "You know those Chippendale dancers, I used to be a Chips Ahoy dancer a few years ago."


"My Big Redneck Wedding:" Down-home country couples prepare for their weddings.

"Redneck Island:" Folks compete for cash on an island. Think "Survivor" with rednecks.

"Here Comes Honey Boo Boo:" Profiles the day-to-day life of Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson, a child beauty pageant contestant, and her family in rural Georgia.

"Duck Dynasty:" A family living in the Louisiana bayou who runs a thriving duck call business.

"Bayou Billionaires:" A hardworking, close-knit family in Shreveport, La., who strikes it rich after discovering their home sits on the fourth-largest deposit of natural gas in the United States.

"Hillbilly Handfishin':" Profiles a business in Oklahoma that takes customers out to catch catfish with their hands; led by a pair of self-proclaimed hillbillies.

Sources: IMDb; CMT;; YouTube

Through the decades

Redneck and country themes in pop culture are nothing new.

They've been around for decades, said Robert Thompson, director of the Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University.

Vaudeville shows in the early 1900s featured popular "hayseed" acts with comedians in ripped straw hats and overalls.

"The Beverly Hillbillies," about a rural family that refuses to conform to high society, was a huge hit on TV in the 1960s with 60 million viewers at its peak. Thompson said the difference in the shows these days is that they are reality TV, not scripted.

Plus, he said there is a deliberate attempt to make the shows outrageous.

One of the newest reality shows drawing attention is TLC's "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," which follows a pint-size beauty queen and her family in rural Georgia.

Even though people are talking about the show, it's viewership of 2.4 million doesn't even come close to "The Beverly Hillbillies."

Thompson said some reality TV shows, such as "Honey Boo Boo," portray rednecks in a mocking, cartoonish way.

But the people in the shows still can seem likable.

"We seem to see a certain kind of human goodness coming out," he said.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1122,

Contact the writer: Michael O'Connor    |   402-444-1122    |  

Michael is a general assignment reporter for the Living section, covering a mix of topics including human interest stories.

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