There is a minor uproar in the mountains about a cartoon that seems to allude to the fact we might be more at risk for swine flu as a result of our penchant for being ignoramuses with a fascination for livestock. Sadly, other than a few vocal transplants taking offense, there seems to be little or no effort to break the stereotype.
Within the past couple of years, there have been numerous incidents that have done nothing but reinforce the notion that all the residents of western North Carolina are a bunch of ignorant hillbillies. The first and probably most painful blow was struck by the nomination of a local high school senior for a prestigious national award. On paper, the young lady was by far and away the most qualified recipient and was invited to NYC to the final screening process. Unfortunately, everything fell apart when she began speaking in the mountain vernacular, instead of using the more formal American English that she obviously knew. Sure, there is a certain charm to a subtle southern drawl....but this was far beyond that.
Local television affiliate WLOS-TV 13 does nothing to help improve the situation. It seems every newscast that they go out of their way to find people that only speak in near unintelligible gibberish to showcase on their newsreels. The subject matter doesn't seem to have any bearing...if they can find someone that talks like they have a mouth full of marbles, on camera they go. Not only that, but the less intelligent the comments appear, the more airtime they get. If you can come across as a total yokel, you virtually guarantee your appearance on the 5, 5:30, 6, 11, 5-7 and noon newscasts...if the story is hot enough, you might make the cycle on two consecutive days. And lest we forget, you will be shared over on the sister station WMYA-40.
There is nothing wrong with being proud of your heritage, but damn...the Civil War ended 144 years ago. It is high time to stop propagating the stereotype and move into the modern era. There are far more intelligent and well educated people living in WNC than there are hillbillies. It is high time to start showcasing the positives!