The Scale of Cinematic Southernness
My very well-thought-out, very serious review of Into the Storm, in which a bunch of people go into a storm, is this:
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…
THE SCALE OF CINEMATIC SOUTHERNESS (ness… ness… ness…)
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?
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.