There is an incredible scene in the Lords of Discipline that runs counter to almost every (((Hollywood))) portrayal of the South and southerners in its long and varied history. For those of you unfamiliar with Lords, it’s a 1983 movie (based on a Pat Conroy novel) that takes place at a military academy known as the Carolina Military Institute, which is a very obvious fictionalized representation of The Citadel and the Virginia Military Institute.
Most of the movie is pretty much what you’d expect: bigoted old money aristocrats from below the Mason-Dixon line doing their best to humiliate and remove a black cadet because they have an aesthetic aversion to dark-hued skin. But this one scene has always stood out for me. The commanding officer of the academy announces during an assembly that his son has been killed while undergoing parachute training in the Army. Later that night, several dozen cadets show up on the Commandant’s front lawn, each holding a single candle, and serenade both him and his wife with a cappella version of Dixie.
It is a genuinely moving scene, and very much out of rhythm with the rest of the film. It encapsulates so much about southern honor, unity, and pride in such an unironic way that I can’t believe it survived the editing process. I can only assume it was in the book (which I’ve never read) and the director, for whatever reason, chose to leave it in there.
You’re not going to be so lucky searching for positive portrayals of rural folks in general, and southerners in particular, in movies made after 1965 or so. An entire string of well-known and/or cult movies sum up pretty well what your West Coast overlords think of you, southern man. Take Blazing Saddles, for example. While I admit the movie definitely has its funny moments, it pretty much serves as the flagship for Hollywood’s attitude towards fly-over country. The bad guys are, of course, ignorant frontier townspeople offended by the idea of a black sheriff being forced on them. Added into the mix are the familiar faces of klansmen and even Nazis. Mel Brooks has never been shy about his contempt for the American South’s insistence on segregation being his inspiration for the film. And then, of course, there are lines like this:
Jim: (talking to the new black sheriff): “What did you expect? ‘Welcome, sonny’? ‘Make yourself at home’? ‘Marry my daughter’? You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.”
And the following:
Olson Johnson: [after Gabby Johnson’s speech] “Now who can argue with that? I think we’re all indebted to Gabby Johnson for clearly stating what needed to be said. I’m particularly glad that these lovely children were here today to hear that speech. Not only was it authentic frontier gibberish, it expressed a courage little seen in this day and age.”
The contempt expressed for ruralites is not exactly subtly, although it is technically aimed more at western settlers than southerners.
Ironically, Blazing Saddles is frequently referred to as a “politically incorrect” movie, although its message is anything but. Even more ironically, Brooks himself has recently commented that the SJW brigade wouldn’t allow the movie to be made these days due to the frequent use of racial epithets. You helped make the bed, Mel. Lie in it, shit-heel.
As though being branded as backward and ignorant weren’t enough, apparently rural southerners are also murderous psychopaths eager to brutally slaughter any fancy schmancy out-of-towner that comes their way. Movies like Deliverance (although the victims there were urbanite southerners, instead of Yankees), the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the cult hit 2000 Maniacs are perfect illustrations of this principle. Despite the fact that, statistically speaking, an individual is in far more danger of random violence in any major U.S. city than in almost any smaller town, it is the isolated countryside that fuels the nightmares of the Rosenbergs and Rothensteins who run Hollywood.
2000 Maniacs features a town of vengeful confederate ghosts who torture and kill anyone who is unfortunate enough to drive through the town with a northern license plate. While that’s not an entirely unappealing premise, it does reveal that shadowy small town southerners terrify and remain in the urbanite imagination, despite very little real life evidence to support it.
Because nothing is complete in the Jewish mind without the involvement of some sort of odd sexual hang-up or repression, Deliverance adds a forced sex component to the savagery of southern mountain men (I am assuming most of you are familiar with this movie). And which one do the hillbillies decide to rape? The fattest, least physically appealing of the men on the trip, complete with pig-squealing commentary. You know, just to make the scene extra revolting. And of course, who can forget the banjo-playing boy, as a horrific example of Appalachian in-breeding.
There are too many movies with these themes for me to make an exhaustive list here. Wrong Turn, Fletch II, Friday the 13th, and Django Unchained all come to mind at the moment.
The point is, if you think the NFL hates you, just remember that Hollywood hates you more, and has hated you for a lot longer. Let’s stop rewarding them for it.