Op-Ed: "Hillbilly Elegy", a Provocative and Compelling Film


Op-Ed by Dr. James M. Davis

Recently, I found the time to watch the film, Hillbilly Elegy, a docudrama released on NetFlix that is based upon the cultural values and life events of J.D. Vance.

I found the film to be provocative and compelling while portraying his life experiences and cultural development in Appalachia. The family struggles and economic challenges do represent a significant number of working class people across the country, not just Appalachians, but it was refreshing to see our plight be better recognized by a larger American audience.

I was not personally offended from a negative stereotypical point of view as I recognized a number of moments in the film that portrayed real life circumstances that I could relate to, empathize with, and draw strength and pride from.

I believe it was the mountain culture values of hard work, persistence over adversity, and a belief in family bonds that sustained him throughout his life adversity and helped him to be hungry for success and opportunity.

A strong family comprised of a matriarchal grandma, a hard-working family oriented sister, and other important relatives provided the framework for a loving and strong family.