Last night I enjoyed a very Mid-Atlantic meal at a favorite eatery. I’ve finally learned how to order cheesesteak in the south. You can’t get it with enough marinara unless you ask for “pizza steak.” Even then, you may need to ask for extra sauce.
One of my two conversational companions said she found “30 Rock” obnoxious. Since this is one of my very favorite shows, and since I so respect this person’s taste and discernment, her comment piqued my interest. As we moved on to other topics, some part of my mind continued chewing on this notion and I took it home, along with half of my styrofoam-boxed treat.
Because I believe that we are one, and that something that harms anyone harms all of us, my mind began working on this. I will not presume to know why she finds the show irritating, but I asked myself why I might find it so. And why was I not seeing the source of my own irritation? It came to me, by the time I arrived at home. I am a Pennsylginian. I have strong ties to the The Mid-Atlantic region, where I grew up and lived from ages 6 to 34. And I live in, spent my early, most formative years in, learned to speak in…Southwestern Virginia.
I lost my southern accent when we moved north, but I maintained such a love for the region that I moved back as a young mother. I travel, and I’ve spent chunks of time away from here, but this is where I have spent most of my adult life, and this is home to me.
I realized, I actually do find the perpetuation of the rural Southern stereotype obnoxious! I think the Kenneth character is funny, and I realize that humor often plays with stereotype. However, outside of my conscious awareness, I have felt uncomfortable with some of the material.
I find it interesting that Tracey Morgan’s character has a two-man entourage of erudite, well-read African-American men to balance his buffoonery. It was interesting to me that the writers felt they needed to to this, but did not apparently feel similarly called to present a smart southern foil for Kenneth.
I know there are conservatives who hate the show, but I’m not inviting ideological controversy here. 30 Rock’s writers are consciously expressing a politcal perspective, just as Fox news does, and people are free to watch what they like. What I do find interesting is how we filter out our own discomfort when perpetuation of stereotypes occurs, even sometimes, when it is our own heritage that is being slammed. My Pennsyl says “I’m sorry” to my Ginian.
I look forward to eating my leftover lunch, sitting on my deck in the sun, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains I love so much. Later, I’ll get on the phone and work with a Pennsylvania client to help her pass a test. One world; no “other.”
We are all learning this. We might as well face it; enlightenment is inevitable! Sooner or later, we will all pass all our tests, and having let gone of regional and all other temporal identifications, we will only identify with our Divine Source. Until then, may we laugh at ourselves…but kindly, I hope. And with empathy and compassion. May the taste of love be delicious in our mouths and minds!