Let’s Talk About Dolly

Dolly Rebecca Parton Dean.

Where can I even begin?

If Dolly ran for Tennessee Governor, I am almost certain she would win. Dolly is just about the closest thing we have to the queen of Tennessee, and no one would argue that fact. But does anybody really understand what makes Dolly Parton so very damn special and perfect?

There are very few, if any, musicians that can compete with the prolific songwriting and recording career that Dolly has had over the last fifty years. She’s written over 3,000 songs and has been writing since age seven. Her first song, “Little Tassle Top” was about a corncob doll she had when she was five years old, living in a log cabin in the hills in Tennessee. Dolly isn’t a redneck, she claims to be white trash, but she is actually quite the hillbilly.

This week I’ve managed to watch about three Dolly movies as I’m trying to procrastinate life. My absolute favorite film is Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. How can you go wrong with Burt Reynolds, Dolly in 1982, and dancing whores? It’s just about the best film of all time. It’s also when Dolly was at her most beautiful.

Toward the end of Nancy Isenberg’s White Trash, which I reviewed last week, Isenberg makes one God awful comparison between Dolly Parton and Tammy Faye Bakker. Let me articulate the multiple ways that this is bullshit. First and foremost, Dolly Parton is just about the most beautiful woman that has walked this God-forsaken Earth. My proof:

Dolly in 1982 rivals only Helen of Troy. I’ve said that multiple times, but it’s true. She could start a war over her wink alone. She’s also why I’ve been blonde since I was in third grade, why I keep fake nails, wear fake eyelashes, and plan on getting titties of my own at some point. Dolly’s girls were all natural in 1982, by the way. She didn’t get them done until around 1987 after she lost too much weight and her boobs went with it.

Dolly’s plastic surgery really didn’t ruin her face. Her thinness did. She’s been tiny since the late eighties, and it’s taken a toll on her face that no longer looks like the Marilyn perfection that it did in ’82. Curvaceous Dolly, when she wore big curly wigs, was the epitome of the overabundance of womanhood. She oozed femininity out of every pore—except if you looked at her skin, she didn’t have a single pore. Comparing Dolly to Tammy Faye Bakker because they’re both Southern and blonde is like comparing me to Carrie Underwood. Yes, we’re both blonde and Southern, but we don’t have a single thing in common other than those traits.

Dolly has done more for the Tennessee working class than pretty much anyone—more than any politician by a long shot. Dollywood opened in 1986 after she bought the controlling interest in Silver Dollar City, the sister park of a Branson, Missouri theme park. Currently, Dolly has over 3,000 people on the Dollywood payroll alone. I can tell you this right now: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee was not the number one attraction in Tennessee in 1985. The town was depressed before Dolly stepped in. Since the park opened, Dolly has made Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge a booming job creator and tourism promoter, which is why she opened the place. Being a hillbilly, Dolly knows exactly who her people are—they’re proud, and they don’t want her money. They want their towns and jobs to boom, and that’s exactly what she gave them.

Beyond the park, Dolly’s philanthropic ventures can’t be understated. Dolly’s imagination library gets books in the hands of kids all over the world. Reading and being read to as a child are the top influences on educational success later in life, and Dolly’s foundation gives over ten million free books to children annually. After the East Tennessee wildfires engulfed houses all across the region, Dolly gave millions of dollars to families and raised around nine million dollars for the community. She is extremely charitable with the Red Cross and several HIV/AIDS charities. She pledged half a million dollars to the construction of a hospital in Sevierville, Tennessee and named it after the man that delivered her. This woman is a queen.

One of my favorite songs by Dolly is her bluegrass cover of “Stairway to Heaven.” Even Robert Plant approved of the song, which typically brings tears to my eyes:

I could talk about how much I love Dolly for years. I have a bumper sticker of her face on my car. I have a Virgin Mary style candle with her head instead of Mary’s. Dolly is the unofficial queen of Tennessee, and don’t you dare argue with me about it. Anyone that is able to simultaneously make gays and rednecks lose their shit at the same time is worth praise.

There has been a bit of criticism recently regarding Dolly’s political influence. First, Pigeon Forge is home to Dolly’s Dixie Stampede, a Civil War dinner theater. Is it tacky? Yes. Do they race some hogs? Yes, they do. She should take her name off of it and it should be shut down. She doesn’t run the place, though—World Choice Investments, LLC runs the show. Even this slate writer doesn’t condemn Dolly for the atrocity. She condemns the show itself, which Dolly has very little to do with. And yes, I will defend Dolly until the day I die, because she is my exception and I don’t care what she does at this point. Is that awful? Probably.

At the recent Emmy Awards, Dolly, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin got up on stage and quoted 9 to 5 as their attack on Trump: that they wouldn’t stand for a “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” then and they won’t do it now. Dolly said something about vibrators. It struck me as she looked at Jane and Lily wide-eyed that she really couldn’t be overtly political if she wanted to. As an icon adored by (everyone) gays and rednecks alike, she has to maintain neutrality, otherwise, her entire base would be up in arms. And that makes me sad, although her condemnation of both presidents elect last year, when she said that no matter who wins, we’ll get “PMS—Presidential Mood Swings,” was exceedingly correct. She is a saint, a beautiful, talented, perfect saint, and if you have something negative to say about that woman you can enjoy my boot up your ass.


Posted by:Rachel

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