Monday, May 16, 2011

Is this really all we have to be proud of?

My in-laws, though originally from New York, now live in the tiny town of Liberty, North Carolina.  Every time my husband and I go to visit, we pass a sign at the Liberty city limits, that proudly boasts they are home of Craig Kirkman, 1987 World Skeet Champion.

I'm really afraid that, in 50 years, Garner will still be displaying a sign that they are home of 2011 American Idol Runner-Up, Scotty McCreery.

Now, let me start by saying that I'm not much of an "American Idol" fan.  I watched the first couple of seasons because I was in high school and no one had invented TiVo yet, and I followed a little bit of the season where the infinitely more-talented Adam Lambert lost to some boring nice guy.

I did watch a little bit of the beginning of this season because I'm an Aerosmith fan and Steven Tyler's drug-fried brain forces him to say hilariously inappropriate things.  But it became obvious early on, when all the superior female singers kept getting voted off, that it was truly just a popularity contest, and crush-obsessed tween girls were dominating the voting.

Unfortunately, living in the Triangle, I can't avoid what has to be the stupidest side-effect of "American Idol":  Scotty McCreery Hysteria.

For those of you who don't live in North Carolina and are therefore fortunate enough to not recognize the name, Scotty is the young kid on "American Idol" who sings like he's doing a Hank Williams, Sr. impersonation and looks like Alfred E. Neuman suffered a stroke.  Seriously.  He sings/smiles/talks out of one corner of his mouth, holds the microphone like he's playing a flute, and leans instead of standing.  Look at that picture above.  He's leaning like he's shoulder-to-shoulder with a buddy, but no one else is there.

And, as one of the (inexplicable) finalists on "American Idol", he got to come home for a televised visit.  Garner citizens collectively lost it and held parades and stampedes in his honor.  Homemade signs abounded.  Many of those signs contained bad grammar or misspellings.  It was not a proud moment.

Of course, FOX is just eating up this story of the small-town young country boy, showing Garner's quaint little Main Street any time Scotty is interviewed about home.

I'm here to tell you, as someone who has lived in this area almost all of my life, it's crap.

Sure, Garner isn't a huge spot on the map, and it used to be a pretty tiny little bit of backwoods.  But that was about two decades ago, probably before Scotty was even born.  You know what Garner is now?  South Raleigh.

Garner is still technically a suburb of Raleigh, but sprawl has caused the two to bleed together.  To the point that, if you go South on the main road leading through the middle of downtown Raleigh, the second you pass the border marking downtown Raleigh, you are in Garner.  It's not like when someone in Virginia says they live 20 minutes outside of D.C.  Garner is just a district of Raleigh.

And while Raleigh is no mega-metropolis, it's a decent-sized city.  And, sure, maybe Scotty lives in the more rural area of Garner, and really embraces the country life.  That's fine.

But it's really annoying to watch the t.v. shows make it out like he's from some tiny little unpaved town.  I know it makes for a better story, but it's not true.

And it's even more annoying to watch my friends, people I went to high school with, whoever act like he's the greatest thing to happen to this area.  He's just a kid on a singing (popularity) contest show.  We've got plenty more people than that to brag about.

Did you know that award-winning actor Michael C. Hall (a.k.a. "Dexter") is from Raleigh?  What about Evan Rachel Wood?  Emily Procter?  Reginal VelJohnson?  That's right.  Carl Winslow from "Family Matters" (also the cop from "Die Hard") is from Raleigh.

Forgetting actors, what about a little singer-songwriter, maybe you've heard of him, James Taylor?  Or, one of my all-time favorite writers, continual non-fiction bestseller, who writes constantly about his childhood in Raleigh, David Sedaris?

The 2000 Nobel Prize winner in Economics, Daniel McFadden?

But, you know, hey, Scotty's from here.  Now we have something to brag about.


Jess said...

Though you witnessed my Clay Aiken obsession in high school first hand...and you know I am a BIG Scotty fan, I completely agree with the point of your article. It is unfortunate that those North Carolinians who make more significant impacts on American culture are often unrecognized by the general public. Personally, I am proud that I knew of 5 of the 7 mentioned North Carolinians. Hopefully, in time, our community will choose to recognize those individuals with as much enthusiasm as they have expressed for ole' Scotty.

By the way, you forgot Frankie Muniz (Malcom in the Middle). He played Tiny Tim in "A Christmas Carol", which was written, performed and directed, among other things, by Evan Rachel Wood's father, Ira David Wood.

-Jess (Apex, NC)

1st-Time Mommy said...

Hey, I was certainly a "Claymate" back in he day, as well. And I do feel like a Putz forgetting "Malcolm in the Middle". (A guy I went to public school with auditioned for that role, actually, and had this weird lingering resentment of Frankie Munitz.)

I don't know if my frustration is so much with the Scotty fans as it is with the cheapened nature of "celebrity" in America. Being on a reality show now somehow makes you famous. Yet, how many people outside of NC know who Ira David Wood is, and that he's freaking brilliant?

And Scotty's leaning/flute playing/crooked mouth really do bother me.

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