The Southern US Stereotype

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The Southern US Stereotype

Postby Smitty » Sun Jan 29, 2006 3:07 pm

Something was mentioned in another thread about a negative Southern stereotype and it brought to mind some old memories. One of my youthful dreams was to hitchhike across the US. I hitchhiked up and down the West Coast, but I never made it cross country. Part of the reason I never made the trip was a fear of the 'Deap South'.

Most of what I think I know about the south is a product of literature and movies. I loved All The King's Men. It's one of my favorite novels - and I need to read it again. Among other things, it painted a picture of southern gentility that is sooo attractive. That aspect of the south is dealt with well in the recent flick (of gay interest) Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

But Deliverance painted a different picture. Stories of innocent northerners caught in the snares of small town southern sheriffs became a cliche. Abuse of 'hippies' filled the news. And George Wallace didn't help the South's image a bit.

So, I'm curious. Is there still a negative image of the South? What is that image and how is it wrong?
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Postby Earl Butz » Sun Jan 29, 2006 4:04 pm

I think Alabama and Mississippi still suffer the most from that stereotype. NASCAR doesn't help their image much, either.

My brothers love Deliverance. It's probably their favorite movie of all time. An outdoorsy horror movie.

It kind of bores me. Jon Voight was a cutie back then, though.
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Re: The Southern US Stereotype

Postby Winterbourne » Sun Jan 29, 2006 6:19 pm

Smitty wrote:Something was mentioned in another thread about a negative Southern stereotype and it brought to mind some old memories. One of my youthful dreams was to hitchhike across the US. I hitchhiked up and down the West Coast, but I never made it cross country. Part of the reason I never made the trip was a fear of the 'Deap South'.

Most of what I think I know about the south is a product of literature and movies. I loved All The King's Men. It's one of my favorite novels - and I need to read it again. Among other things, it painted a picture of southern gentility that is sooo attractive. That aspect of the south is dealt with well in the recent flick (of gay interest) Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

But Deliverance painted a different picture. Stories of innocent northerners caught in the snares of small town southern sheriffs became a cliche. Abuse of 'hippies' filled the news. And George Wallace didn't help the South's image a bit.

So, I'm curious. Is there still a negative image of the South? What is that image and how is it wrong?


In Canada, the image of the American South is basically one of the negative American stereotypes X10. The things that Canadians object to, gun ownership, talking loud, aggression, are seen as being more prevalent there than elsewhere. Ironically most of this is second-hand stereotyping, as most of this comes from images in media imported from the states.
What's important is that these stereotypes don't seem to be true. All the southerners I've met ( bar a few online ) have been nice, polite,not particularly loud and don't seem to own any more guns than other Americans.
If people are going to think better of Southerners, media depictions have to change.

Earl Butz wrote:My brothers love Deliverance. It's probably their favorite movie of all time. An outdoorsy horror movie.

It kind of bores me.


Come on, we all know the scene you wait for! :twisted:
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Postby james » Sun Jan 29, 2006 10:38 pm

My images of the South come from the short stories of Flannery O' Connor. Her portrayal of southern Fundamentalists is thought to be a caricature, but I think it's right on the money.

I also like the novels of Walker Percy, who is somewhat nicer about the south.
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Postby paguy17551 » Mon Jan 30, 2006 5:33 pm

Southern boys are HOT.

however I haven't spent much time in Southern gay communities other then New Orleans which wasn't *too* segregated...from others I've met Atlanta and Charlotte say that they seem like fairly segregated gay communities. I've been to Nashville many time---an aunt lives there---and it seems to be the typical "New South" city--fast growing--people living in racial harmony with a well-educated population.

Florida doesn't count because most people south of Orlando aren't native Floridians anyway but are transplants from colder climes.

BUT southerners are the most polite people I've ever met. In college some friends and I got stranded after our car broke down on our way home from Spring Break in New Orleans. We were in Hattiesburg, MS....I was freakin scared man I tells ya....but the people were beyond helpful. One woman even offered to let us sleep in her husband's church overnight and she was going to cook us a hot Southern-style dinner, it didn't come to that. It changed my perspective on Southerners, ESPECIALLY those from Mississippi, and after Katrina I repayed the favor with donations.

Now I think it may have something to do with elevation---people in the Low Country in the Carolinas and Georgia and in the Deep South Delta region seem to be a bit more polite then those from upland regions. In the movie Deliverance, they're up in the hills. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is set in Savannah, the city that epitomizes Southern Charm and gentillity. Or is that Charleston...hmmm...it's one or the other...

Do Mississippi and Alabama get a bad rap? yep, and I think it is unfair.
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Postby Texas_Thang » Tue Jan 31, 2006 7:53 am

As a recent emigre to Texas from Yankee country, I can tell you it's not quite like what you think. Yes, there is an accent...

But that's about it.

People here (at least in the bigger cities I've been to) are not that much different from people in any other big city in the country. Dallasites have been very nice, Houstonians and San Antonians as well.
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Postby RedRage00 » Tue Jan 31, 2006 12:24 pm

Texas_Thang wrote:As a recent emigre to Texas from Yankee country, I can tell you it's not quite like what you think. Yes, there is an accent...

But that's about it.

People here (at least in the bigger cities I've been to) are not that much different from people in any other big city in the country. Dallasites have been very nice, Houstonians and San Antonians as well.


I don't know about those Dallasites ;)
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Postby RedMenace » Tue Jan 31, 2006 3:08 pm

You know, I could talk about negative southern stereotypes but then I'd have to talk about negative nothern, east and west stereotypes too. There isn't enough time in the day for that. :wink:
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Postby bostonboy183 » Tue Jan 31, 2006 11:53 pm

You know what… After living in Boston for 5 years now I am kind of sick of living up north…
Maybe it’s just the weather sucks but I don’t think so…
In my opinion, Southerners are generally nicer and the south runs a little slower than life up north.
I am kind of longing for that right now…maybe I should move south…
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Postby paguy17551 » Tue Jan 31, 2006 11:54 pm

bostonboy183 wrote:You know what… After living in Boston for 5 years now I am kind of sick of living up north…
Maybe it’s just the weather sucks but I don’t think so…
In my opinion, Southerners are generally nicer and the south runs a little slower than life up north.
I am kind of longing for that right now…maybe I should move south…


I hear ya, if I knew how to drive, I'd move down South tomorrow.
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Postby Smitty » Wed Feb 01, 2006 12:04 am

RedMenace wrote:You know, I could talk about negative southern stereotypes but then I'd have to talk about negative nothern, east and west stereotypes too. There isn't enough time in the day for that. :wink:

LOL. I'd love to hear them. From what I hear, Oregon is populated by racist, redneck hunter gatherers. No more racist than oh so liberal and PC San Francisco in my observation. My favorite local 'redneck' is half Mexican. And hunter gatherer - only in the country and what is wrong with that? :wink:
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Postby Texas_Thang » Wed Feb 01, 2006 12:11 am

Oh I have TONS about Portland...I lived there for a year...
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Postby Smitty » Wed Feb 01, 2006 12:15 am

Texas_Thang wrote:Oh I have TONS about Portland...I lived there for a year...

Well... spill yer guts.
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Postby Texas_Thang » Wed Feb 01, 2006 12:20 am

Gutter punks, women cr*pping in the middle of Morrison Street, the smell of Patchouli and BO on the #14 Hawthorne, the idea that anything east of Idaho was "back east", the idea that no one would ever leave Oregon, the idea that if it didn't happen in Oregon, it was pointless to bother learning that much about it.

The Twin Cities, where I moved to from there, was rather insular as well, to be fair, but Oregon took my own personal opinion's cake.
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Postby madsglen » Wed Feb 01, 2006 1:28 am

Oh, man, Texas Thang. I'm right there with ya. Spend lots of time in Portland for work and have always been VERY happy that I turned down a couple of opportunities to move there. Maybe it's because I spend a lot of time in downtown Portland when I'm there but even in other parts of the metro are I've been a little bit unnerved about the attitude and demeanor of the population I've met. (Don't get me started on the Scientologists stalking downtown...) What I don't get is how such militant 'individualists' don't seem to understand the concept of manners and civility.

Seattle isn't anywhere near perfect, but in general people are nicer here I think. Still, I do miss the hospitality of those I've known from the South and the Midwest. When all is taken into consideraton, I think you need to get out of the cities to get a real idea of what people in an area are like.
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Postby edu999 » Wed Feb 01, 2006 1:29 am

The one stereotype that is stuck hard and fast to my brain is:

Southerner = evangelical = utterly convinced of his/her own moral superiority.

Intellectually, I know it isn't necessarily so, but all the same that's what I automatically assume on a gut level.
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Postby Smitty » Wed Feb 01, 2006 1:39 am

edu999 wrote:Southerner = evangelical = utterly convinced of his/her own moral superiority.

Fundamental Christianity... not purely southern. When I was growing up in Oregon, my family believed in a literal interpretation of a corrupted and mistranslated King James Bible. Rural roots. My grandmother would spin in her grave if she knew I had 'Christ killer' friends.
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Postby Guest » Wed Feb 01, 2006 3:58 am

Smitty wrote:Fundamental Christianity... not purely southern. When I was growing up in Oregon, my family believed in a literal interpretation of a corrupted and mistranslated King James Bible. Rural roots. My grandmother would spin in her grave if she knew I had 'Christ killer' friends.


Yes "Fundamentalist christianity" is "not purely southern"

Most people would believe that the Southern exsperience for Jewry, would be worse than other parts of the country.

This has not been historicly true at all.

http://www.thejewishpress.com/news_arti ... ticle=4991

Southern Jews did not face alot of the same Anti-semitism found in other parts of the country.

This was in part, because Southern Fundamentalists have a high regard for us people of the Bible.

In the old South, if you were Jewish, you would more than likely, only be called a "Christ killer" by a Catholic.

And that used to happen everywhere, because it was standard Catholic doctrine.
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Postby RedMenace » Wed Feb 01, 2006 12:22 pm

I think it's the assumption made on a gut level that is so predominant in the media that really has gone beyond annoying into the laughable. Not to pick on you, Karlo, but you did put it into words. ;)

As to going into the negative stereotypes I think of, Smitty...well I don't like to contribute to such discussions. Y'all know that this southerner is far too refined for such talkin'. I'd be much obliged if y'all did keep that in mind now, y'hear? :twisted:
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Postby Guest » Wed Feb 01, 2006 12:59 pm

As if there are no trailerparks north of the Mason Dickson line or in the West.

The Stereotypes gets blown to hell. :lol:
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Postby beezer » Wed Feb 01, 2006 2:02 pm

It's been my experience that there are good people and bad people, smart people and dumb people, rednecks and elitists, (insert your favorite opposite-end-of-the-spectrum pair) in each part of the country.

Every region of our country (and all places, for that matter) has some beautiful places I want to see in my lifetime. I enjoy where I live, but if I were to move due to a job offer that couldn't be refused, I would learn to enjoy the new place.

The common denominator for all of this is that we are all people. We can kid with each other all we want, and we can have differences of opinion, but the underlying tone should always contain respect. We are all different. Outstanding! How boring and mind-numbing it would be if everyone thought the same and acted the same. If we play our cards right, we can learn a lot from each other. We don't have to like each other, but from a moral standpoint we should respect each other.

I've seen too many posts on this board where anyone who happens to live in a red state is automatically dismissed as ignorant, uninformed and racist while anyone who lives in a blue state is heralded as enlightened and inherently superior. What BS, BS, and more BS! If some people could get over the "I'm always right, you're always wrong" routine ... jeeessh, how adolescent is that?

Predjudice knows no particular race, ideology, geography, gender or sexual orientation. We all have it. We try to gloss it over with generalizations or stereotypes about a group of people we don't like or disagree with. It's how we deal with it.

It may be cliche, but, can't we all just get along?
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Postby Foodude » Wed Feb 01, 2006 8:20 pm

Really? I never read those posts I guess... and if I did I thought it was all just playful banter haha. Well you can't really debate about something if your too polite about it, can you? I used to have some opinion about southerners but since then I've meet a few and they're really just like people you find anywhere :lol:
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Postby cloudy » Fri Feb 03, 2006 1:45 pm

My general impression of someone from the southern states is someone who is obese, very obese, or extremely obese, waving a bible, has a US flag on their doorstep, and is on their way to have another supersized meal.
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Postby Guest » Fri Feb 03, 2006 2:13 pm

cloudy wrote:My general impression of someone from the southern states is someone who is obese, very obese, or extremely obese, waving a bible, has a US flag on their doorstep, and is on their way to have another supersized meal.


The beauty of stereotypes is that they are a two way street.

I have been exsposed to many Stereotypes about Canadians too.

Alot of Americans have a very negative stereotype about the people of Quebec.

But just like any other place in the world, when you meet the individual you realize how much we really are all the same.

Regional stereotypes are often wrong.
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Postby RedMenace » Fri Feb 03, 2006 2:18 pm

I don't have time to read all these new posts. I'm trying to finish my Big Mac and supersized fries...hey, you want that pie or can I have the rest? :P
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