This week’s guest: Chris Queen
When people ask me if I like to cook or bake, I always say, “I’m from the South and I’m Italian, so what do you think?” While there will always be a debate about what is considered “the South,” that it has a distinct culture is not up for debate.
Chris Queen, a lifelong Georgian and editor/columnist at PJ Media, is the author of Neon Crosses. The book follows his family’s road trips to Disney World, discusses the importance of the church and food in family traditions, and Hollywood’s portrayal of the South and embrace of the South as the new Hollywood.
On how one of my favorite shows, filmed in his hometown, made an impact on pop culture, he wrote:
“Family-friendly shows with clear cut good and bad guys were on their way out when The Dukes of Hazzard debuted. The Duke boys have the best of intentions, but they’re not exactly virtuous. Honestly, they were just mischievous enough to be more interesting than traditional heroes. Boss Hogg and Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane are loveable even as you love to hate them. And Daisy? Come on, she was a knockout! Plus, the show was fun, plain and simple.
Not only did The Dukes of Hazzard cement Covington as a go-to destination for filming, but it also helped set up the cottage side industry that went along with it. To this day, car enthusiasts come to town a couple of times a year for Hazzard County-themed auto shows. You’re likely to see a random General Lee somewhere in town on just about any given day. More importantly, the show opened the floodgates for more productions to come to town.”
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that one of my favorite things about the book is that Chris asked me to write the introduction. I used the opportunity to write about my love of the South and its King – Rock and Roll’s King – Elvis Presley.
Pop Culture Warriors with Lisa De Pasquale is an interview column dedicated to the significant work of freedom lovers who chose the path of more resistance. Not only are these pop culture warriors fighting the predominant groupthink in entertainment, but also the predominant groupthink on the right side of politics that entertainment doesn’t matter or that the pop culture war is lost. The purpose of this column is to highlight their projects and contributions to expand freedom in new, exciting, and counterculture ways.
Who inspires you?
My nieces, who are 17, 14, and 12, are a huge inspiration to me. They spur me on to help make a better world for them, and I’m encouraged to watch them forming their own personalities, tastes, and interests. It’s also fun to have conversations with them as tweens and teens because they have some interesting ways of seeing the world.
What was your childhood pop culture obsession?
I was part of the original Star Wars generation. I don’t remember seeing the first one in the theater in 1977, but I must have because my most memorable childhood Christmas gift was a watch with R2-D2 and C-3PO on it that I received that year. I’m a Star Wars purist. I have Blu-Rays of the original trilogy, just as they were when they were first released. I also played Luke Skywalker in a school play in elementary school.
I also became a James Bond nut when I would watch the movies on TBS (back when it was Ted Turner’s baby and originated out of Atlanta). I still love them for the thrills, the gadgets, the music, and the Bond girls!
How have you seen Disney entertainment evolve over the years?
Disney used to be more about wistful escape and timeless storytelling, and now I think they’re more about being trendy. I don’t know if that totally makes sense, but the older stuff is better than most of the newer content. That also may be because I look back on the older stuff fondly now as an adult, and I haven’t lived as long with the newer movies and shows.
Current cultural fights aside, Disney Parks have frustrated me lately. A Disney vacation is not only getting more expensive by the year, but the current leadership of the company keeps introducing “planning tools” that wind up making it harder for guests to ride more popular attractions. They’ve also just about drained all the spontaneity out of a trip. But even with all my grumbling, I still love Disney and probably always will.
What are some movies that accurately portray Southern culture and are on your must-watch list for Yankee friends?
This may sound strange, but I don’t know if there are any modern movies that portray Southern culture quite accurately enough. I still recommend Driving Miss Daisy to people because it demonstrates the tough racial waters people had to tread in the first half of the 20th century. Just ignore Dan Aykroyd’s accent.
As far as TV shows go, I recommend Friday Night Lights. There’s a magic to the way that show portrays small town life, and the accents are mostly brilliant. It’s my all-time favorite show. Sweet Magnolias is total chick-flick TV, but beyond the soap opera aspects, the everyday Southern life on the show rings pretty true. Plus, it’s filmed in my hometown, which is a bonus.
Tell us about the last movie, TV show, book you consumed for entertainment.
The last movie I watched was No Time to Die. I wasn’t prepared for a Bond movie with an emotional wallop, but it was really good, especially after some of the negative reviews I saw.
The last few years I’ve watched a lot of British TV, and there’s a police comedy drama I love called No Offence. It’s on an underrated subscription service called Acorn TV, and I’ve watched it several times over. There are only three seasons, and it’s crass, compelling, and hilarious, often at the same time. I’ve also been watching The Golden Girls in order by season. All these years later, it’s still funny.
I’ve been listening to Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels on audio. They’re so much different from the movies in a unique way. Fleming was a tremendous writer; he could describe a scene in a way that you can absolutely picture it in your mind. That’s been a real treat for me, especially since I’m in the early stages of writing my first novel.
What would you say to readers who say they’ve opted out of the pop culture war?
My short answer is: please don’t!
We’ve almost turned Andrew Breitbart’s truism about politics being downstream from culture into a cliche, but it rings true now more than ever. Conservatives and other lovers of freedom can make a difference. We need conservative content creators, and we need consumers to vote with their pocketbook and choose productions that reflect their values.
Sometimes it takes a little more effort to find quality products that tell great stories with worthwhile values, but it’s always worth it.
What can readers do to support you and your projects?
They can read my writings on politics and culture at pjmedia.com. Click on “columnists” at the top of the page, and there they’ll find all my columns.
They can also check out chrisqueen.live where I write more personal and devotional stuff, although not as often as I’d like to.
Most importantly, they can buy Neon Crosses at Amazon!