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Humor Is Dead

An Interview with Jim Goad

1/4/03 -
Jim Goad. Felon. Wife beater. A “bad man”. His writing has been called “revoltingly vicious”, “anti-social”, and “hateful.” His first project – a Zine called ANSWER Me!, was the subject of an obscenity trial and allegedly played a part in an apparent presidential assassination and a few suicides.

His first major book, written in 1997, is called The Redneck Manifesto. Jeff Foxworthy it is not. It is, however, a hilariously serious examination of the “white trashing” of western society – the discrimination and marginalizing of the low-to-middle income white masses by a guilt-ridden, misguided, and self-serving cultural elite – classism.

His latest book, written while in prison on assault charges, is called Shit Magnet – Mr. Goad’s sordid and often shocking personal allegory of guilt and violence.

One book may end up being required reading for every sociology major – should our universities ever decide that po’ white folks should be as an important an academic subject as “multicultured” folks. The other may just make a great disturbing film – a brutal microcosm of the ruling “might makes right” philosophy that, barely hidden, runs, noisily clanking, behind the thin veneer constructed by our social institutions. While Goad shuns, despises, and savagely skewers liberal guilt and political correctness, he’s certainly no bible-thumping champion of family values and sexual repression. As such, he’s no liberal and he’s no conservative, at least in today’s parlance.

We have a theory: Goad – and his writing – is viewed as extreme simply because his views are so…shall we say…moderate. True - his delivery is sardonic, raucous, raging. His tumultuous personal life, which too often overshadows his literary virtues, has seen appalling violence and incessant conflict, culminating (so far) in a prison sentence. But his message is coherent and significant – a voice of stark reason that forces us to take a demanding look at the sacred beliefs we’ve inherited and stack them up naked and helpless against a raging torrent of reality and unforgiving logic. Oh – and between winces, you’ll laugh your ass off.

Did you enjoy the new Eminem movie? Any thoughts on Eminem in general? Do you think the (apparent) acceptance of Eminem by the hip hop community supports your general beliefs – that most of the racial problems in America are grounded in class discrimination and should more properly be labeled “classism”?

GOAD: A partial list of white rappers who are better than Eminem:

Vanilla Ice
Marky Mark (and Donny Wahlberg)
Those fat retards who wear the clown makeup
That little midget who performs with Kid Rock (ed. note - we think he's deceased now)
Those three Jewish boys who’ve been around forever, one of whom just found Buddha

Many of the racial problems in America are caused by the fact that people are innately tribal, and politicians know how to exploit that biological fact. And since power is built on money, it is in politicians’ best interest to fan racial unrest—even when it’s done under the guise of anti-racist touchy-mushy let’s-all-hold-hands propaganda, because anti-racism still keeps everyone’s attention fixated on race—to divert attention away from financial inequities. They do this because they know that it works.

HID: You’ve come to expect your work to be misread and misinterpreted by critics and readers – that you will be dismissed as extreme, offensive, racist. Since the publication of The Redneck Manifesto and Shit Magnet, do you feel this is still the case? Have you been surprised by either unexpected praise or unexpected criticism for these works?

GOAD: No, almost all the praise and criticism was predictable. What impressed me about The Redneck Manifesto was the range of people who liked it—a radical black paper from Milwaukee gave it a glowing review, as did the White Aryan Resistance newsletter. Who else can claim both those camps? In The Redneck Manifesto I even predicted what some of the negative reviews would read like, and a lot of the reviews mirrored what I’d said almost word-for-word. The funniest review I heard of Shit Magnet, which is a really depressing book, was from DebraJean Danger: “I read a couple chapters, put it down, and then started having nightmares. Not that things in the book were happening to me—I was having nightmares that I was READING the book.”

HID: You’ve called liberals and conservatives “two asscheeks surrounding the same hairy bunghole.” In light of recent events (more surveillance, billions of dollars allotted to homeland security, etc.), has the bunghole shifted at all? Are the cheeks just there for decoration or camouflage? Are we better off with these two cheeks or is one voice – one vision –one unfettered, cheekless bunghole the best thing for the country?

GOAD: I tried to make it clear in The Redneck Manifesto that it’s unwise to ask a sociopath for advice about running society. I do think it’s ironic that people are more worried about words such as “nigger” than they are about the fact that most of the nation, black and white, is being squashed down into an abject, powerless peasantry whose government treats them all like prison inmates. But hey, it’s OK—even though our standard of living is shit compared to a generation ago, at least we don’t say “nigger” no mo’.

HID: Writing more than two years ago, in Shit Magnet, you referred to the Bunghole as “The Big Monster.” From Shit Magnet: The Big Monster rules through a silent, ever-present threat of terror. And yet it’s cynical enough to label its opponent’s “terrorists.” Since a line of prose from Answer Me was allegedly quoted by the “White House Shooter”, are you worried about the possibility of future “issues” for you personally – especially considering today’s state of affairs?

GOAD: Of course. Because I don’t sugarcoat things and don’t pretend to be better than I am…in short, because I’m not as dishonest and coldly sadistic as the “good guys”…I make myself vulnerable. That’s the price you have to pay. We all have to live with ourselves, and I sleep just fine.

HID: In The Redneck Manifesto, you talk a lot about the power of superstition and mysticism in American pop culture (especially white trash and ultra-Christian culture, naturally - bigfoot, Elvis, UFOs, etc). How strongly do the beliefs of such people affect our public policies? For example, what do you make of all the Super Christians and their unyielding support for the Jews in Israel, who want to see Armageddon as soon as possible? Is this an example of the voices of the masses truly having an effect on American policies? Or are they being used as excuses by the ruling parties for material gain?

GOAD: I think history shows that most political “inner circles” are afflicted with weird occultic tendencies that have nothing to do with pressure from “the masses.” Masons. Illuminati. Nazi Black Magic. Skull & Bones Society. I don’t think Americans are any more superstitious than anyone else, it’s just that we don’t consider it ethnically sensitive to make fun of Haitians slicing chicken necks off with machetes so that the Great Chicken Spirit will send them money soon so they can pay their electric bills.

HID: You’ve said you never set out to be a writer. That you turned to writing out of frustration. The Redneck Manifesto, while definitely trademark Goad (and some of your best writing, in my opinion), appears to be as serious an academic work of sociology as anything out there. We noticed it was even being used in a college course somewhere. Was it difficult for you to write in a more academic and research-oriented writing style? Do you have any plans to do a similar work?

GOAD: I did a LOT of research for The Redneck Manifesto…something insane, like I read 127 books…but I did a lot of research for ANSWER Me!, too. For the “Suicide” issue, I spent my week’s vacation down at the LA Public Library, feeding over $200 of quarters into old microfilm machines trying to find the most interesting suicides from newspapers going back to the 1800s. Tons of research for the “Killers” and “Rape” issues, too. The only thing I DIDN’T need to research was Shit Magnet, because it was autobiographical. When I finally do The Encyclopedia of Race, it’ll probably require more research than all those prior projects combined.

HID: We’ve noticed that – at least in New York City, some of the hipster crowd has embraced white trash fashion to some extent – oversized foam-based trucker caps (John Deere, etc.), big muttonchops, gas station attendant attire, wife beaters, overalls and the like – is this a good thing? How does this compare with the suburban wigger fashion scene?

GOAD: It’s probably even more annoying, because it has that pretense of “authenticity” that nobody will grant to the wiggers. I’d just like to take some of these “nud-necks” into some REAL white-trash bars dressed like that.

HID: How's the music going (Big Red Goad)? I must admit I
haven’t heard any of it. I searched all the file sharing programs and came up empty.

GOAD: You’re referring to an album I recorded in 1996. I think a thousand copies were released on a small label in England. How’s it going? It’s going. It’s gone.

HID: What actor would you accept playing Jim Goad in Shit Magnet: The Movie (beside yourself).

GOAD: Bruce Springsteen.

HID: New ladyfriend? She a little more...uh...laid back than some of your prior interests?

GOAD: Don’t dis The Jew. She’s a firecracker. She has more personality than all the prior ones combined. Everybody who knows her is in love with her. She’s not a pathetic insane hypocrite like many of the prior ones, if that’s what you’re drivin’ at.

HID: Any interest in moving from Portland (assuming you're still there)? Why Portland, anyway?

GOAD: Sure. I’m a ramblin’ man. I’ve got ramblin’ fever. I got ants in my pants. I’ve been here too long, anyway. My first choices for relocation would be Butte, Montana, and Wheeling, West Virginia. After seven years in psycho LA, Portland was a welcome re-entry into the world of rain and fat people.

HID: What project are you focusing most of your time on now? Trucker Fags in Denial?

GOAD: I’m doing a lot of freelance writing. I’m really excited about a feature I’m doing for HUSTLER about sexually abusive nuns. I might even turn that into a book. Trucker Fags will continue as a monthly strip in Exotic, and it’ll finally be released in comic-book format sometime this year. There’s also a possibility of an ANSWER Me! 1-4 reprint, as well as a one-volume reprint of all the stuff I wrote for Exotic over the past two years. I’ll probably be working in some other media pretty soon, but it’s premature to talk about it now.

HID: Thanks Jim. We're looking forward to it.

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