Tuesday, September 17, 2002

There's always some kind of weird "Us vs. Them" brewing out there, especially on the web. I guess people like to boil down controversies to two sides of a coin because it's so much easier than trying to imagine a coin with nine sides, or nineteen. This time it looks like a rift is forming between City Mice and Country Mice. This article from the American Prospect site includes a quote that made me particularly uncomfortable:

Our point is that in this rural-urban dialectic, it's always assumed that the urban folks are supposed to pay homage to the rural folks -- that we should know all about Dale Earnhardt. Well, screw that. We're half the country, too! How about this? If they watch "Sex and the City," we'll watch "The 700 Club." Maybe.

Well, now, hold the phone, there, city slicker. For starters, not everybody here in Flyover Country knows or cares about NASCAR, or watches The 700 Club. The cultural landscape is a little more chaotic than that. Some of us actually read The American Prospect or even The New Yorker, which I'm guessing disqualifies us from true Bubba status in the eyes of City Mice.

And whoever said that "the urban folks are supposed to pay homage to the rural folks" anyway? My reading of popular culture overall is that rural folks are supposed to want to become urban folks, move to NY or LA and get media-related jobs that preferably don't involve any actual productive labor.

TAP may have struck one thing on the head, though: I'm not sure I'll ever be able to sit through even one excruciating episode of Sex and the City. I'm a SpongeBob man, myself.

The thing that bothered me most about this article is that they chose to single out the egregiously pointless NASCAR and The 700 Club as if they typified popular rural culture. You know, Flyover Country has most everything the coasts have, mostly without the long lines and crowds. We've even got Culture Snobs! But I guess that TAP's point had to do with getting large numbers of rural residents to vote Democratic in November -- not the kind of rhetorical premise that promotes consideration of people as unique individuals.

One claim I was skeptical about is apparently true, though, if the U.S. Geological Survey is to be believed: 50% of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of a coastline -- 80% within 200 miles.


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