How many Southerners out there are tired of how we are portrayed in Hollywood? I can’t be the only one who is sick of the bumbling, backward, boorish, bumpkin Southerner who, if White, is very often a card-carrying Klansman. If the movie is not set in the South, then there will certainly be a Southern villain in it.
As a Southern Black female, I am offended by these portrayals because they make the people I grew up around seem like a bunch of ignorant, gun-toting, inbred antisocial nuts. Hell, some of the most whacked out serial killers are in California, Washington, and New York! Why can’t the wild-eyed killer be from Hawaii rather than Texas, or Alaska – where a lot of woman-hating murderers tend to live, and not Florida?
Why, for instance, are the crazy ladies in The Faculty and Swimfan Southern? They barely even speak with Southern accents (the one in TF did at first), yet they are supposed to be Southern. Granted, not all of us have very noticeable accents but…anyway, why couldn’t they have come from Maine or Utah or North Dakota?
Okay, so Stephen King wrote it that way but why did the character in Secret Window have an alter ego who is a psychopathic Mississippian? We all know those Mississippi rednecks can be some scary people, particularly if you are Black, but this is simply too much. SK took the same approach with the lunatic in The Dark Half – and this character even had the requisite ‘redneck’ sideburns! In fact, that novel and the novella Secret Window, Secret Garden were pretty much the same story, with different characters…and one was much longer.
Black Southerners fare no better. We are often shown as uneducated, hat-tipping, bowing & scraping Uncle Toms and Aunt Jemimas and Black mammies and lately, thugs and hoochie mamas. Northern Blacks are usually depicted in a more positive manner. Even non-Southern Blacks are guilty of this stereotyping, as if writing it so will make it true. As far as I am concerned, the North has been no better for the Black in America than the South, and the West only slightly so.
Whenever an especially crazy villain appears in a movie, s/he will have a Southern accent no matter where the film takes place. It can be in the Arizona desert, the plains of Montana, or the mountains of Vermont. Count on the killer being a dumb Southerner just about every time. West Virginia is another state whose people are disparaged a great deal. Take Wrong Turn, for example. Why is it that every movie that is set in WV features inbreds? Do these goofball screenwriters really believe that the South is full of brothers and sisters having sex and bearing children? I say that this type of deviancy took place as much in the overcrowded inner cities as the rural hinterlands. I doubt very much that the children of such incestuous relationships would come out looking like monsters but hey, that’s Hollywood for you.
Stop denigrating the South and her people. Enough is enough already.