ever written in the history of the printed word.
(and i warn you: i am going to be inarticulate and i am going to go on at great length to hammer home a point of dubious value to most of the world, so if you don't care to see me rant or read analysis of things written by other people or if you have a major hard-on for the new york times or if you're sensitive to capital letters or just plain don't like it when southern ladies get pissed and use phrases like "hard-on", i give you leave to tune out now)
if you're still with me,
let's break this shit down, ya'll.
UGH. i am pissed. are you pissed?
admit it: those commas are terribly hostile.
if you click over to the article, you'll see there's some stereotypical blahbitty-blah race/gender conflict stuff that's totally valid, but not entirely interesting due to it's stereotypical blahbitty-blahness so let's jump on down to paragraph seven, where it becomes clear that THIS IS THE STUPIDEST ARTICLE EVER WRITTEN since the beginning of time:
oh, heaven's to betsy! swoon! we southerners have uncivilized and there's a whole freaking PORTFOLIO OF EXAMPLES attesting to this. wait! let me consult the Important Documents Concerning Southern Civility in my attaché case because i am a southerner and we carry shit like that around because...
yes, manners are CENTRAL TO A SOUTHERNER'S IDENTITY. nay, once upon a beautiful southern time, they were PRIMARY to our identity. indeed, our manners were the absolute most important thing about us, and then they became merely a central facet... before they ERODED (an erosion presumably attributable to the war of northern aggression). completely.
never mind that....
omg, our STRICT RULES REGARDING COURTESY AND DEFERENCE- which have eroded; which we are, in fact, mourning the loss of right here in this, THE STUPIDEST ARTICLE TO HAVE EVER BEEN PUBLISHED ANYWHERE IN ALL THE WORLD- totally camouflaged the fact that we were, like, totally not polite to black people and women and they reinforced our HARSH RACIAL SYSTEM which kept that 2/3rds of the population in subjugation and servitude. obviously this will have dire political consequences...
because, for reals, the world is so much more complex when the veil of COURTESY AND DEFERENCE is removed from our HARSH RACIAL SYSTEM.
[a brief aside re: this...
dear everyone i know,
if you are traveling in southern country communities
and stop to ask for directions,
there's maybe a .02% chance you'll be invited to supper.
and that's only if you stop at joe and burvil's and mention my name.]
dude, now that the one thing CENTRAL TO A SOUTHERNER'S IDENTITY has ERODED and we've lost the COURTESY AND DEFERENCE that held together our HARSH RACIAL SYSTEM, and MANNERS AND A CODE OF CIVILITY are no longer an available negotiating tactic, we have NO RELIABLE AFFINITIES!
trust other people at your peril!!!
[again: do not ask for directions expecting invitations to dinner.]
who or what can we blame for this?
the loss of the COURTESY AND DEFERENCE that was the glue holding together our HARSH RACIAL SYSTEM and through which we built all of our bonds with one another is due to THE DEMISE OF THE HOME-COOKED FAMILY MEAL.
[incidentally... dear mrs. mason, i think you are not a southerner. because if you were a southerner you would know the truth that all southerners hold dear: the reality that, if anything is holding the south together, it isn't manners or civility or a common understanding of the meaning of the phrase "bless your heart." it is air conditioning, biscuits and barbecue. plain and simple. oh, snap.]
at this point, i assume you're totally convinced that the apocalypse is nigh because the southern system of good manners has crumbled beneath our satin dancing shoes. but take as deep a breath as your corset will allow because there's more. so much more.
like, for instance, the revelation that southern brides are total bitches...
fucking selfish sluts. imagine wanting to enjoy your wedding day.
lord have mercy! so rude.
fortunately, all hope is not lost...
oh sweet jesus, yes.
we, the whole country, are going to have front row seats to this freakshow that is the uncivilized south come fall 2012.
alright. i've given you a lot to take in. a veritable buffet of southernness and, as we all know, that shit's rich. as a southern hostess, it's polite to give your guests a moment or two between courses to digest, so let's take a step back, ya'll, and spend a few moments here reflecting on how, within THE STUPIDEST ARTICLE OF ALL TIME, this is pretty much THE STUPIDEST PARAGRAPH EVER.
we are now in the 30th paragraph of the THE STUPIDEST ARTICLE EVER WRITTEN, which has been published in THE NEW YORK fucking TIMES. and, thus far, it has peddled a version of the south where the biggest problem of the region is its loss of manners, an assertion that is so flat out ignorant that i can't even finish this sentence.
yes, there is a paltry two-sentence nod in the general direction of the fact that those manners attempted to conceal racism and inequality, but there is absolutely no indication given to the continuation of that racism and inequality aside from the opening story, which is presented as a novel loss of chivalry rather than a continuing social ill. we're talking about the region of the country with the highest illiteracy rate, the highest poverty rate, the worst educational systems and massive wealth disparities. an article on any one of those topics could have drawn attention to issues that continue to impede any real progress in the region, the issues that continue to hold it back. but- and this is why it fucking sucks to be a southern writer because you can see so clearly what needs to be done and what needs to be said and you can never find the words to say it and you know the new york times is going to fail at it time and time again- that is irrelevant here because when people look at the south, they either don't see that or they choose to overlook it. instead they observe that our manners are slipping. as though that were the biggest problem. bless our hearts. gosh darn, holy shit.
i am pissed.
but back to this paragraph:
life is not pleasant in charlotte?
southerners experience road rage and rudeness?
fetch me my smelling salts!
there is something deeply sinister about this paragraph but i can't quite tease it out. it's somewhere in the fact that it took people TWO HOURS AFTER THE END OF NASCAR to organize a riot and the cool, calm assurance from the LIFELONG SOUTHERNER that the DNC convention will "BE ALL SWEET TEA AND HUSH PUPPIES."
so wait. aside from THE DEMISE OF THE HOME-COOKED FAMILY MEAL, who else can we blame for the erosion of southern manners?
ah, yes, FAMILIES WITH TWO WORKING PARENTS are clearly to blame. for everything. and children. let's blame children just for kicks. thank god mrs. mcleod is UNDAUNTED by the loss of the unselfish weddings, the COURTESY AND DEFERENCE and the HOME-COOKED FAMILY MEALS that were CENTRAL TO A SOUTHERNER'S IDENTITY and the backbone of our HARSH RACIAL SYSTEM because i'm quaking in my boots.
i would like to close with this:
first of all, dear new york times, points to you for the adjective "famous."
i would not have gone there. i give you props because you did.
secondly, further points for the well-mannered politeness of your definition:
"A POWERFUL WAY OF SEEMING TO BE POLITE WITHOUT BEING GENUINE."
because, as every southerner- lifelong or otherwise- knows,
"bless your heart" is southern-speak for "fuck you."