I love the Midwest. Maybe it's because I was born and raised here, or maybe it's just because I think of it as a gigantic secret that only the truly cool people in America know about, but I just love it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that people who live in other parts of the country are bad people, as a lot of my good friends from Madison are not from the Midwest, and they are extremely fun, smart, exciting, etc. etc....but, alas, without the Midwest, who would other Americans, as well as other countries around the world, make fun of?
Yesterday I saw The Prince & Me. It's a cute movie, but I was slightly disappointed after seeing it. I mean, I should have loved this movie for several reasons. First of all, the "Prince" is from Denmark (where the Sorensen side of my family originates), and the Prince (his name is Prince Edward in case you care) is a tall blonde...totally my type, plus, being a Prince really isn't going to hurt your love life. Yes, I am aware that it is make believe, I'm just saying the Prince is well casted, and I definitely did not mind looking at him for an hour and a half. He also is well versed and pretty funny, which also adds to his total hotness.
However, in the flick Julia Stiles plays Paige (the main girl character) who is originally from dun dun dun Manitowoc, WI. So, obviously, she lives on a farm because, well, everyone from Wiscconsin lives on a farm. AND, not only that, she lives on a DAIRY farm. Anyway, good old Paige is sad because, at the beginning of the movie she realizes all of her friends are either engaged or married, and she is the only one who is left still chasing her dream of becoming a doctor. Shoot, she knows she best be getting a degree because why would you EVER get married to some potential schmuck (yes I know it's because you love him, but you can still love him and not potentially screw yourself over in the process) before you have your college degree?
So yeah, after realizing she is the only person with an ounce of smartness in her group of friends, she heads back to school, and guess where our buddy Paige goes to school? UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN. Yep. The same superfantabulastic institution that I've been attending for 3.9 years. It is now that the viewer finds themself watching how the people of the Midwest are portrayed, and I come back to my original point in paragraph one (I know, took me long enough, didn't it).
This movie was not shot on location at UW, so the buildings that make up the university were way off. I mean, they got some of the stuff right, but some of it was not kosher. Yes, we serve beer at our Union, but NO we don't sell shots...what do you think we are, heathens? You can't get a shot of tequilla at the Union with the hottie in your Com Arts/OChem/underwater basketweaving class, I swear, scouts honor. You will either have to go to a bar (and there are sooo many to choose from) or you will have to just sit around and chug beers together at the Union. I really don't think this is a bad thing, as at least in my experience if you and your extremely funny, attractive, most likely bleeding liberal friend are deciding where to go, and he shoots the Union down because, "Beer makes me gain weight," you may want to reconsider. But heck, that's just my opinion.
ANYWHO, perhaps the funniest scene in the movie is when Prince Edward (who at this point becomes just a regular old student named "Eddie"), and his bodyguard Soren (great name, huh?) walk into what is supposed to be our student Union for the first time. Soren makes some comment about not knowing anything about Wisco students besides their blinding hatred for the Minnesota Gophers, their arch rivals. At this point, some guys at a nearby table hear this, and then the whole crowd at the "Rat" proceeds to chant, "GOPHERS SUCK." Wow, that oddly has never happend to me at the "Rat" (ok we don't even really call it the Rat, seriously, we call it the Union). That scene just warmed my heart, as I am originally from Minnesota, and I get made fun of a lot because of it. I do hate the Gophs...but I STILL LOVE THE VIKES and the TWINS (we NEED an outdoor stadium, ok sorry I will save this for another post).
Ok, my point. Throughout the movie Paige and her family are portrayed as being small town farmers who enjoy milking their cows and racing riding lawnmowers for a darn tootin' good time on a Friday night. While there is nothing wrong with this observation, (as I'm not going to sit here and tell you that there aren't people who live in Wisconsin that live on farms and enjoy the occasional John Deere rumble), this is a gross generalization. In most movies, this really is the SOUL way Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the other states of the Midwest are portrayed. And we wonder why people make fun of us.
Examples of this? Love Actually: English guy goes to Milwaukee in order to find a nice farm girl. Fargo: is my accent really THAT bad? Plus, its not just movies. I distinctly remember watching Rich Girls on MTV (sad that I'm admitting to watching that, I know), and actually listening to a conversation between Ali Hilfiger and her friend in which they discussed how, "The girls who live in the Midwest should realize that the cargo pants they use when they are working in the fields can acutally be quite fashionable when paired with stilettos." ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?
Alright, I know Ali might not be the brightest bulb on the tree, and that example probably isn't completely fair, but I guess I am quite defensive when it comes to the Midwest. I mean, don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with living on a farm, but we are not one dimensional beings here. It's hard for me because in my opinion, the differences between Minnesota and Wisconsin citizens are very easy to notice (I do love Minne), but I guess I am guilty of thinking that everyone from Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky are all the same. Plus, I do have some gross stereotypes about people from the East (Long Islanders especially) and the West (I tould totally like to live on the Pacific cause I love surfers, and you all surf, right?) Ha.
I guess I just wish Midwesterners could be portrayed as what we are, at least to a certain extent. Last time I checked, we are not all farmers, we do live in cities, and, at least in Paige's case in The Prince & Me, we do get to marry our Prince (AFTER we get our college degree, of course). :)