Friday, May 20, 2005

Red State Labeling: The New Accepted -Ism

There was a thought that struck me while reading an article in Entertainment Weekly last week when they interviewed Simon Cowell about "American Idol."

They say about this season:

It will also be quite the red-state finale.

He answers: I think American Idol has always been a red-state competition. I think mainly it's a Southern competition. Every finalist, with the exception of Justin [Guarini], has been a Southerner.

OK, there's nothing really outwardly offensive about this--but the reason why this doesn't seem, on the surface, to be all that offensive is that it's a cultural norm right now to divide the country into Blue and Red color codes--Here's where the people don't want gays to marry and want to go to war, here's where people are more level-headed. That's what I have gathered from these labels over the past few months. And I find it patently offensive, because it groups everyone in red states as same-thinking automatons--and it assumes that just because you voted Bush, you have the exact same ideals as any common red-voter, if there is such a designation. In Tennessee, Bush won 1.3 million to 1 million. To classify an entire state with one color is as blatant as racism. It's the exact same thing--and I defy you to tell me there's a difference.

There is, especially, a tendency to classify red states as Southern. This is also offensive. For all the human advances in the world, the coastal people or the so-called enlightened in our country still view the South as unevolved, tobacco-chewing hicks who marry their cousins. So not only is color-coded state classification wrong on the basis that it assumes all citizens of that state are the same, it's also a Trojan Horse into embattling the "typical Southerner."

There's a line from Seth Cohen (Adam Brody) from an earlier episode of "The O.C." when Marissa (Mischa Barton) and Alex (Olivia Wilde) explore a lesbian relationship, characters who happen to be exes of Seth and Ryan (Benjamin McKenzie). Seth says, "Alex and longer welcome in the red states."

I get the spirit of this line, but once again, it assumes a whole lot. It makes it sound like gays are kicked out across the board in these states. It also assumes that the so-called blue states are filled with nothing but accepting people, and no one in those states ever feels homosexuality is wrong. Kerry won California and New York by around a million votes. That's a lot of people, but it ignores the millions that voted the other way. I do not make assumptions about those states. If I go to a blue state, can I ever meet a straight woman or be friends with a straight man? That's where all the gays are right?

I thought we got around all this classification thing--and it just perpetuates under a different guise.


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