In the country you have to drive when you want to go anywhere; in a big, dense city people get around on foot and via public transport. Suburbs are in this respect in-between. And in other respects too. Which is why, I suppose, suburbs are never perceived as either divine or demonic. “Nothing too much,” the suburb seems to say, which means that, though its human dramas exist, and are as meaningful as they are anywhere else in the cosmos, they remain largely inaccessible to our myths.
Without the foil, we would have to face our own poverties, our own barbarism, our own shelteredness, our own actual lack of sophistication.
The problem with a stereotype is usually not that it is completely inaccurate, but that it identifies a feature as relevant or important for irrelevant reasons and, in so doing, makes it difficult for the person or entity to break out of the stereotype and beyond it in observers’ eyes, which makes an authentic relationship with the stereotyped person or entity impossible.
The hillbilly figure allows middle-class white people to offload the venality and sin of the nation onto some other constituency, people who live somewhere—anywhere—else. The hillbilly’s backwardness highlights the progress more upstanding Americans in the cities or the suburbs have made. These fools haven’t crawled out of the muck, the story goes, because they don’t want to.
Places to live in which the people around you have no problems that need cooperative solutions tend to be sterile. America outside the enclaves of the new upper class is still a wonderful place, filled with smart, interesting, entertaining people. If you’re not part of that America, you’ve stripped yourself of much of what makes being American special.
A rural person expects to know every person in his world, and therefore thinks of every person as an individual. An urbanized person never expects to know the people he comes into contact with, and therefore rarely focuses on them as individuals. Stating the same thing in a different way, when you have more categories in your mind than people, you tend to see the categories as characteristics of the people. […] But once you have more people in your world than categories, you start to sort the people into categories.
The “rural purge” of American television networks (in particular CBS) was a series of cancellations between 1969 and 1972, the majority of which occurred at the end of the 1970-71 television season, of still popular rural-themed shows and shows with demographically-skewed audiences. (via sleevia)
An Accident by Pascal Adolphe Jean Dagnan-Bouveret. “In this scene, a country doctor bandages a boy’s injured hand, while his family looks on with varying degrees of concern.”