Monday, November 9, 2009

Small Town Hicks and Sophisticated Urbanites: A Reality Check

I ended one of today's posts with this:
"...I don't know that we should be too hard on the editors and staff of the New Yorker, though. Like the people at The New York Times, they're city folks - and don't get out of their little world all that much."
(November 9, 2009)

Stereotypes and a Reality Check

This may have changed in recent years, but for quite a while you could tell who the bad guy was in a television show: it was that small-town hick with the broad southern-redneck accent. For some reason, people in small towns often spoke as if they lived in a particularly isolated rural section of the Old South - even if their town was in northern Oregon.

Which threatens to get this post into another topic.

In a way, I shouldn't blame the directors and writers of those shows. They have rigidly-defined time limits, and the faster that a point can be made - "this guy is suspicious," for example - the faster they can get on to more satisfying dramatic matters. Like character development, establishing a visual metaphor, or showing a helicopter chase.

It is, perhaps, understandable that the creative talents of American entertainment media make use of commonly-held stereotypes.
"For decades, I've seen indications that the stereotype behind 'Green Acres' and similar comedies is not merely false: it's inverted. (Green Acres fans: please don't take offense. I thought the show was funny, and nobody came off as particularly sharp.)

"Stay with me, please: I'm not trying to create another 'victim' group.

"The stereotype is:
  • "Knowledgeable, up-to-date, broad-minded city folk
  • "Ignorant, decades out of touch with current events, dangerously narrow-minded country folk
"There may have been a time when this reflected reality. In the days before the Internet, television, radio, telegraph, and the printing press, a person's - or a community's - knowledge of the world depended largely on personal, face-to-face, contact...."
(Another War-on-Terror Blog, April 13, 2008)
I've written about this before. The gist of it is:
"...It's not that rural people are smarter, or more interested.

"What's going on in urban areas permeates the media. It's hard not to know something about New York City, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other cities...."
(Another War-on-Terror Blog, April 13, 2008)
It's been quite a while since the telegraph, telephone, radio, and television put rural households in closer contact with the rest of the world. And now, with Internet connections about as common across America as telephones were when I was growing up, there are few barriers to anyone who wants to stay informed.

But then, I live in a small town: and 'everybody knows' what those people are like.

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.