Wurzel
The UK's answer to the hick.


(permanent link) added: 2013-06-08 03:48:57 sponsor: Nemmington (last reply: 2013-06-27 22:43:12)

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A subtrope of Working Class People Are Morons, the Wurzel is a denizen of rural Britain who is simple-minded, often eccentric, generally employed in farming and fond of a bit of scrumpy. The stereotype is widely associated with The West Country ("oo-arr" being a popular Wurzel catchphrases) but has also been adapted to other areas. The stereotype is applied to people from entire counties which were bypassed by the Industrial Revolution and which remain predominantly agricultural, for instance Norfolk and Suffolk (the only two British counties with no motorways whatsoever) and from Gloucestershire (most famous son: Fred West). Fred West is typical of another rural British stereotype: keeping it in the family, so to speak, the regular accusation of incest - which to a certain extent is Truth in Television, although not as prevalent as people think. Sometimes the Scottish and Welsh in general are portrayed as Wurzels.

This is essentially the British variation on the hillbilly and redneck sterotypes from America, although they are not entirely equivalent. A Wurzel is almost never a Corrupt Hick, for example, as they are usually portrayed as being simply too dim-witted to be corrupt: any corruption in rural Britain is more likely to be due to an upper-class country gent.

Hot Fuzz is full of them, and Sightseers. Also, in both these films, the Wurzel characters are partly vicious murderers... Yeah, that part may be true... Ooh, My Summer Of Love, too. Actually, that film basically embodies West Yorkshire (Oop North more Wurzel-full than The West Country, arguably). Farming nutters.

The obviously classist implications make this a Dead Horse Trope, unless the work is being ironic.

Contrast with the Chav stereotype (see Lower-Class Lout).


Examples:

Advertising

  • A series of Dime Bar ("smooth on the outside, crunchy on the inside") adverts from the nineties featured a British Bumpkin character who preferred eating armadillos ("crunchy on the outside, smooth on the inside").

Comics

Film
  • Basic premise of anything Edgar Wright has helped with. Usually.

Literature
  • The moles of Redwall have a very distinct country accent, burr aye. They're portrayed as down-to-earth types, not given to fighting or deep thinking, but they're very good at tunneling and cooking.

Live-Action TV

Music
  • The comedy "Scrumpy and Western" band The Wurzels draw on this trope; possibly the Trope Namer, is at is unclear as to whether "wurzel" was used as a synonym for bumpkin beforehand.

Sport
  • The chant levelled against Norwich City fans by rival teams sums it up: (Tune: The Addams Family Theme)
    Your sister is your mother,
    Your father is your brother,
    You all **** one another,
    The Norfolk Family!

Theatre
  • William Shakespeare's works tend to feature a lot of less intelligent people who live in the countryside. Whether they fit this trope depends on individual productions, of course.
In the play Hydriotaphia, by Tony Kushner, the young gravedigger Pumpkin, who's having an affair with Sir Thomas Browne's wife, and Babbo, an elderly cook and nurse, are portrayed this way. They have their own semi-english patois.
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