Close the screen door, you’re letting the air conditioning out

Joe Toppe Staff Writer

November 3, 2013

I’m taking a stand.

A stand against misinterpretation, exaggeration, and a skewed view of the so-called enlightened.

Here it is 2013 and one half of this country seems convinced life in the South is somewhere between “Huckleberry Finn” and “Mississippi Burning.”

Don’t believe me?

Have you noticed the South’s depiction in modern film?

When in the name of Rhett Butler have movie makers last pictured the southern United States and the southern way of life in anything other than bare feet?

Will Rogers once said the woods in Hollywood are full of people that learned to write but evidently couldn’t read. If they could read their stuff, they’d stop writing.

Perhaps it would disservice Hollywood to write the truth; perhaps it is best for the continuation of their product to extend a tired label?

And have you noticed the recurring stereotypes?

Allow me to recite some of my favorites.

You will notice in most movies set in the South, even the modern South, no one has air conditioning and every court room is outfitted with an array of ceiling fans spinning overhead as some mint julep sipping orator spouts Faulkner and Stonewall to a listless jury.

You will notice in most movies set in the South, even the modern South, young boys still race along dirt roads in bare feet and tattered overalls hollering to their mama’s for cornbread as they sweep a mud covered porch.

“I’m powerful hungry, Ma,” calls the boy as he approaches his large mother in the Little House on the Prairie dress.

And these scenes mark just a few of the most common stirring about Hollywood as they attempt to recite the southern lifestyle and brand its people as slack jawed typecast.

Don’t believe me?

Pull Matthew McConaughey’s “A Time to Kill” out of your DVD collection, or Reese Witherspoon’s “Sweet Home Alabama”.

Just make sure you bring a puke bucket and a hefty load of tolerance because these cinematic disasters have lettered in the ridiculous and have shown no mercy in their exploitation of a region.

I wonder if it would shock the west coast to know we have wireless technology, Twitter, and the iPhone 5 in the south.

I wonder if it would shock the west coast to know we keep cool in the summer with ice cold air conditioning from vents placed strategically throughout our log cabins and riverside shacks.

I wonder if they know ceiling fans went out in the 1980s.

What would this knowledge do to their movie making? What would it do to their regional perception?

Perhaps it would force them to highlight our better half, our commitment to culture, class, and history.

And as our borders clog with these other Americans rushing into our cities to work, rushing to our beaches to vacation and to our communities to live, I hope they realize the mullet sporting beer guzzler next door didn’t invite them.

This is our home, and we will thank you to close the screen door when you leave.