By ADAM SCHRADER
Published in The Dallas Morning News on Oct. 5, 2015
Fort Worth resident Chad Prather declared himself “unapologetically Southern” in a 2-minute YouTube video that has garnered more than 1.5 million views, an article in The Guardian, and an appearance on Fox and Friends Weekend.
Prather, 42, patterns himself as a modern-day Will Rogers-style observational humorist. He works for Ride Television Network, hosting It’s My Backyard, and has a travelling humor show. He has almost 20 videos with more than a million views.
But in this video, Prather seeks to defend the South and its heritage after an online encounter earlier this year. Right at the height of the debate on Confederate flags, he received a message that asked him to comment on it, he said.
Prather responded that it wasn’t a debate he wanted to get into at the time, he said, but this video provided the opportunity to respond to others who have told him that he’s not intelligent because of his dialect while standing up for southern culture.
“They told me the South, with ‘that backwoods mindset’, is what’s wrong with this country and to stop polluting the world with my ignorance,” Prather said. “Someone really did not get sugar in his coffee that day.”
Prather, who shoots his YouTube videos from the cab of his truck wearing a cowboy hat, said the beauty of this video is that people across the world started speaking about the South in a positive way, as they should, because the South is a place to be proud of, from its economic and academic strengths to college football.
“We’re not the Confederate South,” he said. “There’s a heritage to that history, but there is a culture here to be admired.”
Prather said the feedback he has received has been overwhelmingly positive, “which is unheard of in a day of keyboard bullies.”
“They were saying ‘Yes there are gentleman in the South. Yes there are manners in the South. We like having the doors held open for us. We like ma’am and sir,’” Prather said. “I even get those kinds of responses from people in the Northeast where you typically do get a lot of that condescension to southern culture. So I’m still proud of that.”
But, Prather can still understand why some can assume someone is uneducated because of their dialect and past history.
“I’m not ashamed of the southern dialect, but you want to sound educated,” he said. “I have been in some places in the Deep South where you need a Rosetta Stone for Rednecks, there is no way to understand what some of those people are saying.”
Prather, who is originally from Georgia, said his accent was much heavier in the past. He started softening it when he was 19 years old.
“I had given a speech and I heard a recording of it,” he said. “I decided to change some things and worked really hard. Now, my accent is virtually gone.”
Prather said he rarely encounters hostility, rather the opposite, because of his accent. Largely, people are drawn to accents that aren’t their own, he said. Personally, he’s drawn to British accents — even though he has a hard time understanding them, he said.
“If I’m watching a movie with heavy British dialect like The King’s Speech or Bridget Jones Diary, not that I’m admitting to watching that, but if I have to watch with subtitles to understand what Renée Zellweger is saying,” he said. “There is the idea that if you say something with a British accent, you sound more intelligent. Put a good communicator who speaks with a British accent onstage, they can say something with almost no substance and people in America want to listen to them.”
Prather, who often speaks in other countries, said that he, in turn, has found out that foreigners listen to him more in the exact same way.
“People everywhere see a southern accent as something they want to hear,” he said. “All I want is for people to take a look at other cultures, whether it’s southern, northern, western, whatever, and learn to appreciate the beauty of every one of them and what they bring to humanity.”