Burn Notice and North Carolina

January 23, 2010

So, last night I was watching the newest episode of Burn Notice on Hulu, when the lead character decided to pretend to be someone from North Carolina.

Having been born and raised in what is considered the South, I knew what was coming next by heart and sure enough, the lead character did not disappoint. His portrayal of a North Carolinian covered most of the basics, from deep southern drawl, tank top, and spitting tobacco juice, he managed to cover most of the preconceived notions of what a southerner is.

For those who haven't seen it, Burn Notice is a television show about a secret agent who gets "Burned" by his operators, which basically means they dumped him in Miami, took his money, and prevent him from getting real work. So, Michael Weston, played by Jeffrey Donovan, goes A-Team style and makes use of his skills to help those in need. Bruce Campbell is also in it, who is the man, as well as the gorgeous Gabrielle Anwar. It is a pretty fun show and one that you can watch in the background, without having to give it too much thought.

Now Donovan’s portrayal of a Southerner didn’t offend me in the least, as he does this with a lot of his other characters, such as acting like a New Jersey gangster. I’ll even go a little further and say that I have a few friends that are a lot like how he portrayed.

However, the generalizations he made are pretty much par for the course for living in the South, as most of the time when non-southerners think of a southerner, they think everyone is backwards, ignorant, racist, stupid, or a redneck. Unfortunately, as generalizations usually are, nothing could be further from the truth.

There are of course many ignorant, racist, and stupid people living in the South, but they are in no more denser of a concentration than anywhere else in the United States. In fact, I would go so far as to say that there are stupid, ignorant, and racist people living all over the World. There is no place that doesn’t have a market share of stupidity and ignorance.

What makes these generalizations so unfair, is that when it comes down to it, Southerners are some of the most friendly people you will ever meet. As a whole, they will bend over backwards for you if you need a hand and even if you don’t. When you get home in the evening, your neighbors wave to you and maybe come over to chat for a bit, and are always there if you need something. So, it is safe to say, that like most generalizations, those made of those living in the South are pretty far off.

To help put this in perspective, there are also a number of generalizations many Southerners make about Northerners, but when I was in New York, everyone I met was about as pleasant as could be and I don’t know that I met anyone who was outright rude. Well, that is with the exception of a cabby who didn’t feel like picking me up, as he knew it was a short fair.

So, whats the point of this little diatribe you ask? I guess that generalizations, no matter if they are based on Race, Religion, or Location are rarely a good metric for evaluating a culture. Instead, people should be evaluated for who they are, not for where they are from or how they dress. All too often, the fact that someone is making generalizations in the first place says a whole lot more about them than it does the group being generalized.


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