'Into the Storm' and the Scale of Cinematic Southernness

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The Scale of Cinematic Southernness

By Rebecca Pahle | Think Pieces | August 12, 2014 | Comments ()

into the storm donk reevis.jpg

My very well-thought-out, very serious review of Into the Storm, in which a bunch of people go into a storm, is this:

arya shrug.gif

The storm scenes were good. Richard Armitage’s very best attempt at an American accent was not good. The fauxumentary nature of it bordered on laughable—they wanted it to be 100% found footage, but they also wanted it to have reaction shots, so there was this one guy on the storm chaser team, Lucas, whose entire narrative purpose was to film the other characters when something big was going down. “I know I’m here to film a documentary about weather, but I wonder what Lori from The Walking Dead’s reaction is to [SPOILER, IF YOU CARE ABOUT INTO THE STORM SPOILERS] Peter Pan getting sucked into a firenado [/SPOILERS].” I managed to get through almost an entire movie without realizing he existed. And there were still some shots that clearly could not have been found footage. Let it go, director Steven Quale. Let it go.

But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about Donk and Reevis.

Donk (Kyle Davis) and Reevis (Jon Reep) are two wannabe YouTube stars who, upon discovering a giant storm of death is coming their way, head rights towards it because they’re drunken idiots, yeehaw! They and their buddies are every “redneck” sterotype rolled into one. They drive a beaten-down pickup truck. They dun talk like this. One of them has a confederate flag on their helmet. They are the part of this movie that made me want to punch something, and not just because they’re obnoxious. (Though boy, are they.)

It’s because I’m from the South, y’see. North Carolina, not Oklahoma, where Into the Storm is set, but still. I’m a GRITS (Girls Raised In the South), y’alllll. And I’ve noticed there’s a dichotomy towards the way we Southerners tend to be portrayed on film. One the one hand, negative stereotypes about us are emphasized and demonized—we’re stupid, we have sex with our cousins, our false politeness hides a control freak nature and a desire to force our beliefs (probably depicted as religious in nature) onto others. Or the “down-home family values” thing is glorified to a frankly tooth-rottening extent. Therefore, I present… drumroll please…


Deliverance (1972)
Oh, those inbred, rapist rednecks. This, along with the “redneck murder family” horror trope, comprise the “Southerners, yick” end of the spectrum.

Into the Flesh (2014)
Not actively horrible, but Jesus, how fucking stupid.

Forrest Gump (1994)
The sweetest man who ever walked the earth Forrest may be, but we can’t let that “bumbling fool” stereotype go, can we?

Mud (2012)
With Jeff Nichols’ Mud, we’re into the middle zone—where the South is neither demonized nor glamorized, aka “is portrayed as how it actually is.” Hats off to you, sir.

Gone With the Wind (1939)
Heading into “glorifying the South” territory here. It was a simpler time before the Civil War, when everything was debutante parties and blossoming romance and a distinct lack of acknowledgement of how slavery is a thing.

Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)
Oh, to live in a small Southern town, where everybody knows everybody’s business and spends all day drinking sweet tea and eating apple pie and engaging in good-natured gossip on their back verandahs in between going to ho-downs or whatever. Bless their dear hearts (as anyone from the South can tell you—not a compliment).

A bonus shout-out goes to Tucker and Dale vs Evil for being the movie to turn the “scary redneck” stereotype on its head and pit two good ol’ boys (who are actually sweet and smart and not at all rape-y) against a frat boy named Chad. Chad.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Jezebeelzebub

    I agree that the cousin-fuckin' thing is old hat- or a dead horse, as another commenter put it. And I agree with the fake-politeness and the back-handed "compliments"- that's still alive and well- dare I say even an art form. I'm trying to remember the last time I saw a Confederate flag, and I can't.. but I think that may be because I see them so often that I don't even notice them anymore.

    I love my home, though. It can be very weird here, and I'm not blind to the ugly parts. I mean, I get it- I'm a Southern Jew and that's still kind of unusual. But I love it. I love the physical place, I love the weather (for the most part) and of all the places I've been, this is just home. It's mine and I love it, warts and all. It doesn't bother me when non-Southerners assume I'm a moron because I speak with a bit of an accent, (maybe a more than "a bit") because I'm not one and their perception doesn't hurt me any. People rag on the South because it's sort of safe to rag on us, because we're inbred racists with shitty trucks and low IQs. If that keeps 'em away from us, that don't hurt my feelings.

    Also, Tucker and Dale Vs Evil tickled me all to be damned. Friggin' CHAD, y'all. Chad.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    Whatever you do, don't trust Bette Davis.

  • Coolg82

    I am always in two minds about the southern stereotypes thing, as I am from NC myself. The Incest thing is a dead horse trope and the rest of the list are not as prevalent as they were decades ago, but they still are real. Most of the people I know from my small home town share at least one of the bad stereotypes, most especially the "fake politeness" thing, especially within families. Confederate Flags are rampant here and the political ignorance to political participation ratio is much much higher than it really should be. With that said, not all are like that. My friends and close associates are not like that and some of my family, admittedly a smaller number than I am comfortable with, are not like that. With that also said, that group I mentioned are also the ones who did or at least tired to leave that town as soon as possible and never return, so there is that. As for me, I share none of the stereotypes, have no real love for the place, do not take particular pride in being a southerner, have only a slight accent (thank god), and would move if I had the funds, so grain of salt and all that. The cities, which NC does have a fair amount for as far as southern states goes, are much more progressive than many other places in the south, which is probably why NC fluctuates red and blue like police strobes.

  • MissAmynae

    No "Steel Magnolias"??

  • Jezebeelzebub

    Maybe that one was left off because that was set in Louisiana, and now you're getting into Cajun country. Cajuns aren't rednecks, I don't think. They kind of have their own cultural bubble, as far as I can tell. Kind of like how the Amish are Protestants, but a highly specific *kind* of Protestant that you wouldn't confuse with a.. I dunno... a Methodist or an Episcopalian.

  • MissAmynae

    I can see that rationale. The thing I love about Steel Magnolias is how it shows the strength of a group of Southern women. Its damned accurate.

  • AngelenoEwok

    "Bless your heart" as a veiled insult is one of those things that DOES SOMETIMES happen, but has taken off in popular culture way more than in real life. I have head it said MANY TIMES, and outside of TV and the internet, it's said in sincere sympathy about 90% of the time. The passive aggressive version is used far more sparingly. That's how it can *still* be veiled when it *is* an insult.

  • Sassy Pikachu

    I too am in the South! Lived in Raleigh for graduate school, but back in Charleston, SC. While I have met some (very very very small amount of) people like what was portrayed in films these days, most of them are quite diverse, just with a little bit more southern hospitality and sass.

  • Darlene

    FYI, anyone who thinks that "bless their hearts" or "bless your heart" is always said as a veiled insult hasn't spent much time with actual Southerners. We say it in sympathy, in empathy, in kindness and in comfort. We also say it to tell you to eff off, but it's got a lot of uses, only some of which are negative.

  • Jezebeelzebub

    Yep- it's all about nuance and tone. It matters HOW it's being said. Although I have never ever heard "Bless your *pea-pickin'* heart" meant any other way than a big old EFF YOUUU. At least that's how it is here in LA. (That's Lower Alabama, AKA: The Florida Panhandle.)

  • PretentiousTurnip

    TV has a better track record with the South overall. Friday Night Lights, in particular, is spot-on--particularly when the show dives into how race and class intersect with high-stakes high school sports.

  • lmtj

    My bigger deal with Southern movies(NC girl here, too) is the use of "ain't". It does not sound as dumb as movies try to make it out be. More than likely when you say it, you are serious as a heart attack and the person it's directed knows you mean business. Incorrect: "I ain't gonna eat mah biscuits and gravy. uh-huh-uh-huh." Correct: *catching a thief while you have your gun aimed* "Dude, that ain't even about to happen."

  • Cheetahdriver

    Interesting article about who lives (or thinks they do) in the south. OK, btw was rated about the same as MO, which is nuts. The Mason-Dixon line seems to have shifted while I wasn't looking...


  • ZombieMrsSmith

    When Mr Smith and I moved to NYC over 20 years ago from NC, we had Noo Yawkers ask us all the time if we had indoor plumbing when we were growing up. I shit you not. I blame movies.

  • Not shocking. I grew in small town Illinois and when I went to college was asked if we drove our tractors to school. Unfortunately the honest answer was "Only on special occasions."

  • Salieri2

    Friend of mine moved from Nebraska to New Jersey and was promptly asked "do you have shopping malls out there?"

  • Helo

    I'm from Panama. Raised in MA, did college in Upstate NY. Someone once asked me "why are you white?"

    My personal favorite - "is this your first time in an elevator?"

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser


    Once, just once--I came across some Americans up here with skis on their car...in June. I thought that they were joking, I wouldn't accept anything else. But nope, no.

  • LOLO

    Where does Sweet Home Alabama fall? (I am not from the south, so curious).

  • lmtj

    I would rank it as "decently accurate" once you remove all of that stupid twang music and whatever the deal was the Dad had with the recliner. Reese Witherspoon also disappointed me with accent. She knows good and doggone well we don't sound that bad.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Sweet Home Alabama? It's got a Skynyrd song as the title, for pete's sake.

  • Kim

    Just a shout out from a Kentucky girl to remind y'all that most of us do in fact wear shoes and we don't sound normally like Nell in our day-to-day speech. But the bourbon thing? Totally real.

  • tamatha_uhmelmahaye

    Great. Now I want bourbon.

  • Personally, I'm offended by the stereotypes about Iowa. Not all of us are gorgeous ubermensch starship captains, and that's a hard standard for the kids having a catch with their dads in the corn fields to live up to.

    I apologize on behalf of myself and Captain Kirk. We have perpetuated this myth through our own celebrity in equal measures.

  • I thought Iowa was an acronym: Idiots Out Wandering Around

  • Mrs. Julien

    Plus you're the last scion of Norse warriors and the forbidden elder gods.

  • BWeaves

    I live in central Florida. When I was in high school (middle of last century) it was redneck city. Now, all I hear is Spanish and Vietnamese and New York accents. I don't know where all the rednecks went, but they have been gone for years.

  • Jezebeelzebub

    Oh, I found 'em. They moved up here to Escambia/Santa Rosa counties- Milton, Pace, Pensacola area. Want me to tell em you asked after them?

  • DeaconG

    When I went to visit my cousins in Pensacola for the holidays a few years back, my cousin's wife told me "Deac, I know you love to ride so let me give you the heads up...do NOT go to Milton and stay the hell out of Jay. You've been told."

    The sad part is that I have family in Jackson County and I feel a damn sight safer in Marianna or Two Egg...

  • BWeaves

    Hell no.

  • Jezebeelzebub

    hahaha! well, if you're sure...

  • Antique (webelos8)

    BWeaves, I grew up in Lake County. Certainly there are rednecks there yet? I mean.. I left but they *all* couldn't have.

  • BWeaves

    I'm from Osceola cattle country. They all sold their ranches to developers, and the cowboys moved to Texas. The other rednecks have just been squeezed out by the immigrants. Being an immigrant myself, I can't complain, it's just a huge change.

    My little town was like Mayberry RFD when I moved there and I loved it. Now it's just a huge subdivision of Orlando.

  • Antique (webelos8)

    That's what happened to my area after I left. It's completely bizarre to go back.

  • DeaconG

    They're all north of Gainesville and in the Panhandle.

    There's still a few pockets floating around in Central Florida though (Bithlo, Scottsmoor).

  • Ocala too. Dunellen, etc. Basically Marion County

  • DeaconG

    Marion County is one of my big "avoid at all costs" places in Florida. I will not drive through it-period.

  • Jezebeelzebub

    Haha! See, I speak the truth, I got backup.

  • BWeaves

    True, true.

  • Methinks Birth of a Nation should probably be above Deliverance on the "Extreme South" end of the spectrum

  • pajiba

    Love this. I might add 'Sling Blade,' which was filmed in my hometown, and pretty much nailed it.

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