Anti-Southern bias in US coverage of BCS championship?
January 6, 2013
A recent news video featuring Yahoo Sports’ Evan Doherty and and Pat Forde characterised the college football championship game between Alabama and US media-darling Notre Dame as being one between ‘Rudy and Forrest Gump.’ This was a phrase coined by Notre Dame receiver Robby Toma. The two sports analysts laughed about the joke at the end of the short segment after Forde predictably picked Notre Dame to win the game. The movie Rudy is the inspirational story of an underdog on the Notre Dame team who is denied the chance to play, finally gets his chance in the last game of his senior year, ends up sacking the opposing quarterback and is carried off the field as a hero. Forrest Gump is the story of a mildly retarded but lovable and naive Southerner who makes the Alabama team, fights in Vietnam and gets involved in lots of other adventures in the 1960s and 70s. Some people may say that this is a harmless joke but it should be noticed that the portrayal of the Northern team is positive while the Southern team is likened to a mentally retarded man.
Newser ran the phrase ‘Rudy vs Forrest Gump‘ as its title for a piece on the big game.
‘Gump vs Rudy’ t-shirts are even being sold.
Anti-Southern insults are nothing new to sports. Recently, the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia ran ads for the anti-Southern film Lincoln during a game in a city that was burned to the ground by Lincoln’s troops.
The case of the Rudy vs Gump jab appears to be a much milder attack than the Chick-fil-A Bowl insult but does reinforce the negative US stereotype of the South; a stereotype which, as demonstrated in a recent scientific study, is acquired by non-Southerners at a very young age. Insults such as these, or the constant casting in US movies and television series of Hollywood actors with over-the-top fake Southern accents in roles as dumb, dangerous characters, is so pervasive that it largely goes un-protested by Southerners. However, the cumulative negative impact of this cultural bias can be powerful, causing some Southerners (as noted in a recent National Public Radio feature) to try to cover up or unlearn their native dialect. The effect is to undermine Southern identity and culture. White Southerners remain the one ethnic and cultural group in the US that it is politically-correct to vilify and mock on a continual basis.