EDITORIAL: Whitney Cummings doesn’t deserve W.Va.


Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

Whitney Cummings discusses her HBO special, “I’m Your Girlfriend,” at AOL Studios on Jan. 20, 2016, in New York.


In case you missed it, last week comedian Whitney Cummings appeared on The Late Late Show with James Corden. Cummings discussed with the TV show host, as well as fellow guest Bradley Whitford, what she claims is her Appalachian heritage in a painful and cheap segment, which was done in incredibly poor taste. 

Among other things too disappointing to name, Cummings, who wasn’t even born here but spent summers at Harpers Ferry, recounted that her father always told her he was from the western part of Virginia. Imagine her surprise when she discovered he was actually born in West Virginia, and let the jokes begin. 

“I’m basically first generation like Appalachia, full on like hillbilly,” Cummings said with a sour look on her face. “I just found out that that’s my heritage, and a lot of things are starting to make sense.”

Instead of embracing her heritage, the comedian wrote terrible jokes about our state to relay to James Corden, who was unfamiliar with West Virginia. Now, unfortunately, his only impression of us comes from someone who isn’t from here and doesn’t understand who we are. 

And who knows how many guests and viewers now have that same image of West Virginia in their minds. Cummings should not have introduced our state like that, spreading hateful and untrue stereotypes that West Virginians themselves have for so long tried to overcome. 

One of her jokes dealt with “hillbilly DNA,” something that suggests earlier settlers of the region fended off bears with our personalities. It’s too bad we can’t fend her off. Also, being “crazy” by her definition has nothing to do with where you’re from. It’s something you develop from a lack of compassion. 

Comedy has a history of punching up those in power. On this TV appearance, Cummings chose to punch down the powerless, in this case the people of West Virginia who couldn’t defend themselves against her rants. She has a national platform that she could have used to disprove stereotypes, or just spread some love. It’s possible to still do that in a humorous way. 

Perhaps what makes this situation worse is Cummings’ responses to the backlash she received. Many people on social media called out Cummings, stating how disappointed they were. In a few blanket responses, the comedian wrote “All love,” and the clip was taken down. 

But in a separate tweet, she stated, “We are at a point where we demand apologies we would never dream of accepting.” 

Maybe she simply shouldn’t have made fun of those who have no way of standing up for themselves and spread love instead of hate to begin with. 

It’s no wonder Cummings’ father didn’t tell her that he was from the Mountain State. She simply didn’t deserve to know, and he realized it. West Virginians, please believe that she doesn’t deserve us, our hospitality and our beautiful scenery. 

So, while Cummings continues to explore her “hillbilly DNA,” let us remind ourselves what’s in our West Virginia roots and heritage: forgiveness.