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January 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 18 Jan 1994 17:34:20 EST
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I am trying very hard to hold my temper in place here, but as a native son of
the very southern state of Georgia, I am deeply offended by the stereotypes
which are being thrown about in recent posts on the net. It astounds me that
anyone who has looked at the media with any insight would take media stereotypes
 of the region at face value, or that you would confuse representations of the
south in the 1950s and 1960s with the reality today. Take any of the statements
you folks are making about the south and substitute the minority of your
 choice-- Jews, Blacks, etc. -- and see if you would be prepared to make the
kinds of comments in a public forum. I honestly don't think most of you would.
   Are southerners close minded towards outsiders? Look, I live in Boston
right now and there aren't many other places in the world more close-minded
to outsiders. Maybe southern resistance to outsiders has something to do with
the snobbery and arrogance of people who come into other regions with the
assumption that all southerners are dumb hicks.
  Are southerners racist? Most of us from the south have had to confront our
racism from day one, we live in a place where the history of racism is ever
present. When I was going to school in the midwest, I encountered forms of
racism that were so overt and so naive that it made my mouth drop. Fraternities
at major midwestern universities had "Martin Luther Coon Birthday Parties,"
where everyone wore black-face, ate fried chicken and watermellon. When the
frat boys were asked about their actions, they looked astonished that anyone
would find this offensive. It was just an honest joke! Where I came from,
you probably wouldn't do something like that if you had an ounce of humanity,
but if you did, you would have known what you were doing and meant it.
   I don't mean to be flaming other regions. All I want to suggest is that
the south is being presented here as a scapegoat for national problems and it
 has been used that way for more than a hundred years.
--Henry Jenkins