Movies and TV content, may they be blessed for their entertainment value, are nonetheless generated by coasties who adhere to cartoonish simplifications of what heartland America is all about, and suffer from clueless misconceptions of who heartlanders are. Examples abound, and we’ve already noted a few in our Coasties page, but let’s start a more complete list, and feel free to join in with your own examples in the comment box way down below.
“Nebraska.” Residents of the beautiful state of Nebraska may not appreciate the art of this 2013 movie that portrays them as sad, dimwitted people who live squalid lives hating and bullying each other on a dismal landscape. The main character, portrayed by Bruce Dern, believes that a Publishers Clearinghouse-type check for a million dollars is a real check for a million dollars. Can anybody imagine anyone that stupid? The folks who write and produce this drivel can, because they know nothing about the world outside their urban coastie fantasy world, where the people of “flyover country” are seen as Neanderthals, possibly even large monkeys. Bruce Derns’ movie son is a sad-sack whining wimp with no visible means of support who bears no resemblance to the hardworking, upbeat folks of the real Nebraska. Besides the whiner, everybody in the town is old, ugly, simple-minded and, like all rural people, mean and cruel. Bruce Dern’s movie wife is a hideous fat crone who pulls down her pants and exposes her genitals in the graveyard scene. The coasties think this is how the real, earthy hinterlanders behave, and doesn’t that make the old lady spunky and cute, like the simpletons of the heartland really are? Essentially, Nebraskans are mental defectives, the gene pool dregs left behind when everyone with a functioning brain escapes to big coastie cities as soon as they get the chance?
“August: Osage County.” Like the movie “Nebraska,” another 2013 movie purporting to represent the people of rural America — in this case Oklahoma –as ugly, moaning sad-sacks with nothing better to do than screech and spat like residents of a looney bin; which is how country people act, right? Originally a theater play, the movie attempts to legitimize these essentially urban mental defectives as authentically rural by periodically displaying panoramic shots of Oklahoma countryside. A sad commentary on the strength of this vision of America is that this movie and “Nebraska” were feted with Oscars and Oscar nominations at the 2014 Academy Awards. Oscars for production and performances which, sadly, satisfy the disdain that the coasties of the urban entertainment industry feel for the inhabitants of “flyover country.”
Movie: “The American President.” Guys who have ladies in the house may well learn to appreciate a lot of movies they’d have turned their noses up in their single days, and one real feel-good romantic comedy movie was “The American President,” starring Michael Douglas and Annette Benning. Oh, it had a few flaws. The Michael Douglas president was a pompous ass, unlike the character that Kevin Klein played in the movie “Dave.” The biggest flaw though was that the main and much hero-icized initiative of the president and his administration was to push through legislation to outlaw hand guns. The kind of jarring discord one has to overlook to enjoy a movie. “We have to get rid of the hand guns,” enthused the little presidential advisor portrayed by Michael J. Fox. We of the intellectual aristocracy do, after all, have a moral obligation to protect our rural peasants from their own stupidity.
God-awful TV shows about Wisconsin. That was where we were born and were kids, so these examples jump right out but, again, we would love to hear examples down below about your own state. “Laverne & Shirley,” which was supposed to show us what people are like in Milwaukee. Every show started with them singing “schlemiel schlimazel hasenpfeffer incorporated” to legitimize them as authentic residents of this overwhelmingly German state, but both of them had Brooklyn accents which, in the eyes of coasties, blue collar people have, wherever in the U.S. they may be.
Lenny and Squiggie also had Brooklyn accents. For God sake. In “Happy Days,” another purported Wisconsin show, none of the characters had Wisconsin accents except malt shop owner Al Delvecchio, who had…a Brooklyn accent.
And of course there is That 70s Show, where nobody sounded like they were from Wisconsin but at least did not have other accents except the latino kid and Donna’s father Bob Pincotti, who has…oh what a surprise…a Brooklyn accent.
This cluelesness about heartlanders is rampant in the media. One TV special set in Wisconsin back in the actual 70s, about Senator Joe McCarthy, did at least give a “real farmer” accent to a farmer being interviewed in his field. It was (in Wisconsin!) a southern accent, which coasties believe to be the accent of all country people in America, and which actors must learn to mimic in order to fill their roles.
City people have Brooklyn accents, and country people have southern accents, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, Canada to Mexico.
Keep it going. Whattya got? Good place for discussion is also at the Hillbilly Hijinks Facebook page.