EPISODE 22 | Hillbilly Smellegy feat. Benji Wade


This week on the pod we zig a little into our first film crit episode, and chat with local filmmaker Benji Wade about Hillbilly Elegy, a movie that has been on everyone’s lips since it came out in time for the election.

It’s the not-so-riveting story of how a poor white kid from Southeast Ohio overcame generational trauma through nothing but his own pluck and grit (or so the film would have you believe), attended Yale Law School, went to work for Peter Thiel — one of the great monsters of recent American history — and eventually moved back to Cincinnati to start a non-profit that helps, like, train unemployed coal miners and steelworkers how to code, or something.

Seems a little far-flung to what we usually talk about on RANGE, but the plight of poor people in extractive economies in Appalachia is pretty similar to the plight of poor people in extractive economies in the Inland Northwest, and this movie is a masterclass in blaming the poor for their plight.

So yeah, a topic ripe for RANGE. 

The movie is bad, but the conversation is good, and Benji and I took the time to cobble together a mountaintop worth of other actually good coal-country (and coal-country-adjacent) content for you to remove into your ear- and eye-holes.

That was a coal mining joke. You’re welcome.

Referenced in the episode

Better things to watch than Hillbilly Elegy

Better things to listen to than Hillbilly Elegy

Better things to read than Hillbilly Elegy