Appalachia, The South, Mountain Folk...
I thought I would share something with you that perhaps you had never considered before. Specificly how we as an American culture treat those who we consider to be a (Redneck, southerner, Hill person, Hillbilly, Mountain man ect). Obviously since I am brining this up I need to share why I am doing this and why I feel its relevant to the GWJ community. In P&C topics are discussed that are the talk of the day or subjects that mean a great deal to us but are too hot to handle in other fourms. While this isnt a news item or a hotly debated topic I felt its one that is either unknown or just ignored. Thus the post....
As you have probably already guessed I fall into this classification, I was born in a southern city and raised in the Appallacha foot hills. Five generations of my family were raised in the mountains and its fair to say that a good deal of my heart is tied to those mountains and the people who live in them. I was raised with a deep love for Applachian culture, its music and its ways of living. That is why it pains me at times when I see how my fellow Americans view us. In movies, games and music we are classifed as ignorant, hatefull people who are only put in front of the camera so they can be laughted at those of other cultures who can say "at least I am not one of them". In the work place I have had to hide my identity and even my accent for me to be taken seriously. The first thing one learns if your an Appalachian working in the North is to speak like you are from Columbus Ohio (neutral accent). Some of the wonderfull things I hear at work from others who know nothing of my past are "you know they are all inbred", (when speaking about an area of town that has large number of Applachians) "Thats just GroveTucky for ya, they are all stupid down there", and on and on.
Now before I go any further in this topic I want to say I am not doing this because I want pity or because I feel its a civil rights issue. Frankly there are lots of folks who have it a heck of a lot worse than me. So I am not really complaning or whining here, I just want to present something to you that perhaps you havent thought of before. A lot of us here at GWJ have either a work background in Tech or just like Tech as a hobby, and its pretty rare to find someone like that who claims Appalachia as their home. So I think its fair to say a lot of us probably havent been exposed to Applachian culture that isnt a movie or game.
So how does America view Appalachia, well lets take a look at one of my favorite PC games Fallout 3. In Point lookout (A DLC of that game) we are introduced to "Swamp Folk" who are individuals in Virginia who were a rural people exposed to too much radiation. In this DLC we see a classic view of Appalachia, a violent stupid people who use a southern drawl that sounds mindless to the ear and have next to zero education. The swamp folk were created in a way to speak to our (the players) ignorance about those from that culture. Its done so the player feels pleasure and enjoyment as they kill these ignorant people. In Deliverance (1972) we see mountain folk who are physcially dirty and depraved. (and lets not even get into the worst parts of that movie). Growing up the only time I saw someone of my culuture on screen was when a movie needed a stupid character that could be killed off without emotion, or hated easily. You learn very quickly in Appalachia the "truth" of how the world sees you....
You are stupid.
You are worthless
You are dirty
You are uneducated
You live in a wood shack
The Way you talk is wrong \ stupid \ funny
You have no future
You will live in Poverty
The cold reality for nearly any person of skill in Appalacha is to succeed we will have to leave the home we love. And this means we will have to play the game of life the way others want us to rather than the way we believe or were raised. Thus we learn to hide our accent, hide our beliefs, hide our feelings. I spent many years saying horrible things about Appalacha right along with everyone else so I could "fit" in and make a living. I still hide my appalachian background from everyone until they get to know me.
So the next time you consume a movie or game and my culture is represented (which is thankfully rare at times) take heed that you might be consuming something that is adjusting your belief about another culture in a way that is well..... wrong
Sorry for the PSA.. Just wanted to get that off my chest