“One Man’s Garbage is Another Man Person’s Good Ungarbage”: Trailer Park Boys, Adorno, and Trash Aesthetics
Using Theodor Adorno's aesthetic, economic, and cultural theories, this essay examines the Canadian television show Trailer Park Boys (2001-present) under the broad theme of "trash aesthetics." Set in the fictional Sunnyvale Trailer Park near Halifax, Nova Scotia, TPB mobilizes “trailer trash” stereotypes to tell the stories of a marginalized community of people rendered economically and cultural superfluous by the forces neoliberal globalization. The landscape of Sunnyvale is strewn with trash and soon-to-be trash, which often becomes appropriated by characters into useful commodities, causing garbage to have starkly different meanings within Sunnyvale. TBP’s portrayal of trash and its resulting “trash aesthetic” places garbage—what is normally hidden or “thrown away”—front and center, refusing to let “nature” or “the natural” be pristine or to let trash be forgotten. In this way, Sunnyvale becomes a place where the dialectic between nature and culture can become erased, presenting a potentially redemptive ethics and aesthetics to trash.
Trailer Park Boys, Trash Aesthetics, Theodor Adorno, Frankfirt School, Garbage
Master of Arts (M.A.)