Now, fiction is fiction and impressions are impressions. First and foremost, I understand that everyone has their own perspective, and how they reflect that in art is their business. But my beef is this: Why does everyone, and I mean EVERYONE have to say exactly the same thing about Alabama? Anyone from outside the region, heck, even outside the state, seems to think that it's ok to have broad, sweeping generalizations and low expectations for the people they meet and things to do in the Heart of Dixie. Even people who live here feel they are not worthy, go about with their heads hung low and refer to themselves and others as "country" or "redneck." I am so sick of it I could scream. Reading this story and seeing one more instance where we Alabamians are skewered once again for being uneducated, uncultured, and xenophobic really makes me want to run outside and beat somebody up who feels this way. (See? I am proving stereotypes!)
Where are the people who write about this city and state with grace, with knowledge of the sweet and educated people who are from here? Who can mention that someone drives a truck without inferring that they are an idiot? Who can write fiction that tells the story of the real folks who inhabit this beautiful place? I walk down the street here each day and I'm surprised by the genuine, creative souls I come in contact with. None of them are bigots. None of them are crazy Southern politicians or rednecks chewing fat wads of tobacco. I am not being articulate right now because it's really gotten me amped up to read that story and be so let down and I'm afraid I'm not expressing myself well.
If people do write glowingly of the South, it is in cliches and out-of-fashion ideas. I challenge anyone to find a story or novel or article about this area that revels in the beauty of it without using one of the following cliches:
- Sweet tea
- Bless your heart
- Fried foods
- African-American accents that sound like Butterfly McQueen
- Endearments like, "Sugar" or "Darlin'" or "Honey"
- The Civil War (And please, if you dare refer to it as the "War of Northern Aggression" I will aggress all over you)
- Hating "Yankees"
Please, any writers out there, take my challenge. Write me some fiction and poetry about the South, and make it new. Make it wonderful. And for goodness sakes - make it in the Twenty-First Century and never, never refer to Gone With the Wind. Or I will come after you.