The Real South: More Like Andy Griffith, Less Like The Beverly Hillbillies

Because I’m used to talking to hundreds of people every week at work calling from all across the country, I can usually correctly figure out what state the person is calling me from based on their accent over the phone. American accents fascinate me. Because everyone’s got one. Even if it’s simply the official “flat accent” (covers the area from Omaha, NE to Des Moines, IA to Peoria, IL) which is how news broadcasters are taught to speak. Since I am so keen to pick up on a person’s accent, I’ve noticed an odd thing about movies and TV shows. A major lack of Southern characters and the Southern accent.

First I thought it was no big deal. That maybe less people speak with a Southern accent than any other accent. Wrong. According US Census Bureau, more people live in the South than any other particular region of the country. To be exact: 36%.

It’s official: More people speak with a Southern accent in our country than any other accent, even those who have “no accent”.

Most TV shows take place in the Northeast and California. So I understand the lack of the Southern accent because of that. But if most people live in the South, why not simply make more shows that take place in the South? Is it because the other 64% of the country won’t be able to see past the stereotypes they have in their own minds? When a show does have Southern character or setting, it’s completely written into the script as a unique feature in of itself.

A few movie exceptions come to mind: Reality Bites takes place in the country’s 4th largest city: Houston, TX. And amazingly, no cliché Southern references to be found. They just made a good movie that just happens to take place in the South. And one of my favorite movies of the 2000’s is Big Fish. It takes place in Alabama, yet if the Southern accents were removed, the movie would still be the same movie. In other words, the fact it took place in the South didn’t add or take away from the movie. And that’s what I want to see more of. Just simply make more movies in the South, not movies about the South. Why not cater to the majority every once in a while?

With TV shows, this concept of “being Southern but not being blatant about it” is much rarer. The Andy Griffith Show (Mayberry, NC) and King of the Hill (Arlen, TX)l are rare examples. Take away the accents and they’re still a charming shows pointing out the quirks of life in a small town.

I will give credit to LOST. Sawyer is from Jasper, AL. He’s not portrayed as a “dumb Southerner”. In fact, his con artist lifestyle shows he’s actually a pretty clever guy.

While the Southern accent and its many unique features like “ya’ll” and “fixin’ to” may sound ignorant to others, if the Southern accent (and language) is the majority then why must it continue to be treating like the minority?

We Southerners breed the rocket scientists that send people to outer space and the moon. Florida, Alabama, and Texas contain the headquarters for our country’s space programs. We also have Atlanta which blesses the nation with fine networks including The Weather Channel, The Cartoon Network, CNN, TBS, and TNT. Plus, we don’t like unions, so we build foreign cars here providing jobs for our residents: Hyundai, Mercedes, Nissan, and BMW.

“White trash” societies are everywhere, as the Jerry Springer show proved well. But somewhere all the way because of our racist past and slower speech patterns the South has become a believable stereotype of lower class of people to many onlookers.

In my version of growing up in the South, the only racist tension I experienced was the fact that the illegal Mexicans were taking the jobs the rest of us didn’t want. And that’s everywhere. As for a different way of talking, it’s just as easy to pick on the accents of Midwesterners or New Englanders.

Beyond the branded ideas of Elvis, Dolly Parton, fried chicken, and beat-up old pick-up trucks, there lies the Real South. In closing, I have provided a tip of the iceberg list of non-stereotypical Southern people and companies:

Abraham Lincoln: born and raised in Hardin County, KY until age 21
Brad Pitt: born in Shawnee, OK; raised in Springfield, MO
Johnny Depp: Owensboro, KY
George Clooney: Lexington, KY
Dave Matthews: moved to Charlottesville, VA at age 19 (from Johannesburg, South Africa)
Jason Mraz: Mechanicsville, VA
Ed Helms and Brian Baumgartner (“Andy” and “Kevin” from The Office): Atlanta, GA
Stephen Colbert: Charleston, SC
Courtney Cox-Arquette (“Monica” from Friends): Mountain Brook, AL
Owen Wilson: Dallas, TX
Renee Zellweger: Katy, TX
Ben Folds: Winston-Salem, NC
Justin Timberlake: Memphis, TN
R.E.M.: Athens, GA
Better Than Ezra: New Orleans, LA

American Idol has been dominated by Southerners. Not only is host Ryan Seacrest from Dunwoody, GA, but for all except two seasons (the Season 9 winner was Lee DeWyze from Mount Prospect, IL, and the runner up was Crystal Bowersox from Elliston, OH), the winner and/or runner-up was from the South, and the one only who ended up during Country Music was Carrie Underwood:

Season 1: Kelly Clarkson (Fort Worth, TX)
2: Ruben Studdard (Birmingham, AL), Clay Aiken (Raleigh, NC)
3: Fantasia Barrino (High Point, NC); Diana Degarmo (Snellville, GA); Top 3 Finalist, Melinda Doolittle (Brentwood, TN)
4: Carrie Underwood (Muskogee, OK); Bo Bice (Huntsville, AL)
5: Taylor Hicks (Birmingham, AL); Top 6 Finalist, Kellie Pickler (Ablemarle, NC)
6: the exception- Jordin Sparks (Glendale, AZ)
7: David Cook (Tulsa, OK)
8: Kris Allen (Jacksonville, AR)

Coca-Cola: Atlanta, GA
Dr. Pepper: Waco, TX
Fed-Ex: Memphis, TN
UPS: Sandy Springs, GA
Wal-Mart: Rogers, AR
Disney World: Orlando, FL

LOST Recap: Finale- “The End”

I loved it.  Absolutely.  And I believe it was the best, and really, only way, to end the show.  But it just took me 24 hours after watching to understand why.

The entire show was just about Jack Shephard.  Everything else, including the island and its ability to heal people and time travel, the Smoke Monster, the Dharma Initiative, the Others, Jack’s friends, Jack’s enemies, the light in the cave… All of it were the parts of Jack’s life that ultimately mattered to his existence.

In the likeness of the movie Vanilla Sky, when you’re dead, it’s all over- so why focus on the character’s earthly life after they die?  But the writers of LOST took that concept to a new level by acknowledging that all the mysteries, actions, heartaches, and triumphs all boil down to one thing- the people that were involved in your life.

Even Vincent the dog’s best purpose on the island was to comfort Jack as he died.

I definitely plan to write much more in the near future answering the remaining questions about LOST: Why was The Man in Black never given a name?  Who was the first protector of the island?  Did it really matter that Desmond and/or Locke typed the code every 108 minutes?  What was really accomplished by Juliet sacrificing her life by detonating the bomb in 1977?

But as for today, I think it’s more important to focus exactly what happened in the finale.  The most begging question is what’s up with the flash-sideways?

The first time we saw the characters of LOST in the finale season, they were on the plane.  Note there were never flash-forwards or flash-backs during the flash-sideways, indicating no past or future in that timeline.  They weren’t reincarnated, having to live their lives all over again, in this version with the island being sunk.  The alt-reality was simply an “acknowledge your dead and that your life mattered” precursor to the afterlife, often referred to as “purgatory” or “the waiting room”; it started with the plane ride.

Keeping in mind that life on the island (and “the real world”) continued after Jack died, that Hurley and Ben served as the island’s protectors for the rest of their lives, that Claire, Kate, Sawyer, Richard, Miles, and Frank all left the island and lived normal lives back in the United States or wherever they chose to re-establish their lives… they all still died at some point.  Most of them of old age, living to be in their 70’s.

And once they died, before going to Heaven, they were reunited, having the blessing remembering how they mattered to each other.  And since time, in essence, doesn’t exist in the afterlife, they all met at the same time, since it didn’t matter that Jack died 40 years before most of them did.

But because Jack was the main character of the show, the show stopped with his earthly death.  The rest of the living characters lived their rest of their lives and eventually died, the show just didn’t continue to follow their earthly lives.

So when Jack died in 2007 (three years after originally crashing on the island), and (say, for example) that Kate died in 2051, they met at the same time in “the waiting room”.  (Because time doesn’t exist after earthly life ends.)  Then they went on to Heaven with the rest in the church.  (And Ben went once he was ready.)

The writers were clever to utilize a nearly universal belief that there is some sort of life after death.  The episode was quite saturated in Christianity (which was a smart idea since most of America identifies with some version of it), yet didn’t write off other popular international religious beliefs, thanks to the “major six religions of the world” stained glass window in the church.  The point wasn’t to depict any religion’s specific teaching on the afterlife as specifically accurate, but to instead play and expound on our perceived general ideas on life after death and the importance of the people in our lifetime after we die.

I don’t see how LOST could have ended any other way.  Yes, technically “all our questions” were not answered.  But it involves using our imaginations and clues from the show to fill in the blanks, as we as Losties have been doing the whole time.  It will bring me much joy to take matters into my own hands by filling in these blanks with many more LOST posts to come.

Comments welcome.

(They will most likely be spun off into a new post if they are interesting, insightful, or raise a good question; or instantly deleted if they are full of nerd spite: “NO!  You’re wrong!  What really happened was…  Looks like you never thought of that while trying to make your weak point, did you?…”).

The Ethnic Backgrounds of the Cast of LOST

Italians?  Check.  French?  Check.  Koreans?  Check.  Jews?  Oddly, not so much.

When the creators of LOST were in the casting process, they knew they wanted an “international cast”.  Well done.  Who wants to see another show with a bunch of white people and one African-American thrown in for good measure?

The ethnic diversity on the show adds so much to the characterization and even their storylines.  I have gone through the painstaking process (for most, but for me was a lot of fun!) of searching and studying the ethnicity of the entire cast of LOST.  While I won’t bombard my fellow Losties with every single cast member ever, I will feature most of them.  The phrase in (parenthesis) tells where the actor was raised.

Matthew Fox as “Jack Shephard”: Italian-English (America)

Evangeline Lilly as “Kate Austen”: English (Canada)

Josh Holloway as “James ‘Sawyer’ Ford”: Scottish (America); rare in that he is one of the few Southerners on the show- from Georgia in real life, on the show he was born in Jasper, Alabama

Jorge Garcia as “Hugo ‘Hurley” Reyes”: Chilean-Cuban (America)

Naveen Andrews as “Sayid Jarrah”: Indian (England)

Daniel Dae Kim as “Jin-Soo Kwon”: Korean (America)

Yunjin Kim as “Sun-Hwa Kwon”: Korean (America)

Terry O’Quinn as “John Locke”: Irish (America)

Dominic Monaghan as “Charlie Pace”: English-Irish (Germany); he speaks both  English and German

Michael Emerson as “Benjamin Linus”: English (America)

Emilie de Ravin as “Claire Litteton”: French (Australia)

Henry Ian Cusick as “Desmond Hume”: Scottish-Peruvian (both Scotland and Peru)

Sonya Walger as “Penny Widmore”: Argentinean-English (England)

*oddly, married couple “Desmond and Penny” are both in real life half British, half South American

Alan Dale as “Charles Widmore”: New Zealander (New Zealand)

Ken Leung as “Miles Straume”: Chinese (America)

Francois Chau as “Dr. Pierre Chang”: Cambodian-American-Chinese-Vietnamese (America); random fact- he played “Shredder” in the movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze

Andewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as “Mr. Eko”: Nigerian (England)

Nestor Carbonell as “Richard Alpert”: Cuban-Spanish (America)

Elizabeth Mitchell as “Dr. Juliet Burke”: English (America); another rare Southerner (from Dallas, TX)

Jeff Fahey as “Frank Lapidus”: Irish (America); though his character his Greek-American

Cynthia Watros as “Libby Smith”: Greek or Czech (America)

Michelle Rodriguez as “Ana Lucia Cortez”: Puerto Rican-Dominican Republican (America)

Tania Raymonde (Katz) as “Alex”: Jewish (America)

Mira Fulan as “Danielle Rousseau”: Jewish (Croatia)

Katy Sagal as “Helen Norwood”: Jewish (America); played Locke’s love interest, also known as “Peg” on Married with Children

Titus Welliver as “Man in Black (Esau): Irish  (America);  though he looks like Billy Joel, who is Jewish

Mark Pellegrino as “Jacob”: Italian (America)

Since Jews only make up 1.7% of the American population, the three confirmed Jewish actors on LOST accurately and proportionately represent themselves in the large number of actors on the show.  And that’s rare.

Of course, as usual, in the strange case there are no Jews or hardly any Jews on a show or movie (like Family Matters or Family Ties), the producers and/or writers are Jewish.  So it goes without saying, that in fact, LOST creators J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof are both Jewish.  Along with Jeffrey Lieber (who most likely is based on his name and physical appearance).  Same thing with LOST writer Adam Horowitz.

It’s safe to say that LOST truly has the most international, most diverse cast of any show in American history.  We as Losties have invested years of our lives in these characters.  They’ve become like real people to us.  I’m so glad this show is made up of such a randomly planned cast of characters and actors.

Read more about the astonishing number of Jewish actors in American film: The Funny Thing about Jews

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on this, why not read my perspective on being a dad?  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog” by clicking on the link below:

dad from day one


LOST Recap: Season 6, Episode 14- “The Candidate”

What’s sadder than sad?  Having Korean couple Jin and Sun be separated for three whole years (by different continents and different decades) only to be reunited for a few hours before meeting their fate in a leaky submarine.  Knowing that their daughter, Ji-Yeon, will be an orphan, and that Jin never even met her.  He only saw a few pictures of her.

Hurley has always been one of my favorites.  For me, one of his best moments was when he wailed after learning about Jin and Sun.  Devastatingly tragic.

And while none of us would have chosen for the Kwon’s to meet their Maker at such a young age, never getting to raise their child together, this happening only reminds us of one of the many reasons we love LOST so much.  Despite its saturation in sci-fi, the show reminds us a lot of real life.

In real life, good people die young everyday.  People who were just getting started and just getting things figured out.  For the past six years, the stories of Jin and Sun have been nothing but tragic.  They never, as a couple, seem to catch a break. 

However, despite such a great loss of characters, admittedly, Jin and Sun’s slow death was one of the most romantic and sincere ways to die.  After losing her for so long, Jin would rather die with his wife rather than live the rest of his life without her.  He sacrificed his life to spend Sun’s last moments with her.  Which became his last moments as well.  And in doing so, Jin also sacrificed his life for Sawyer, when Jin refused Jack’s help.

Speaking of sacrificing, the often Jesus-reminiscent Sayid gave his life for everyone on the sub.  I don’t know what exactly his deal was.  Was he actually Sayid?  Mostly Sayid?  Fading Sayid?  No matter what, the real Sayid was in there somewhere and as the island’s true protector, he died so that the others would have a chance of living.  Goodbye Zombie Sayid.  And thank you.

So what does this all mean for the remaining three episodes of LOST?

As I mentioned last week, the whole reason Jin and Sun had to come to the island was to have a baby, which could have only happened on the island, but the baby could have only been born off the island.  And once little Ji-Yeon was born, ultimately, the island no longer need Jin or Sun.

Mark my word (or calculated prediction), by the final episode on May 23rd, we will learn that Ji-Yeon Kwon (Jin and Sun’s daughter), will have a major role with the continuity of the island.  And finally, we will all see what happens in the year 2010, since LOST has refused to show us what happens past 2009, even in any flash-forward.

The name of the episode was “The Candidate”.  Moments before his rush to death, Sayid told Jack, “It’s going to be you.”  In other words, Jack is the candidate to become the new Jacob.  Which I’m sure will happen.  And once Ji-Yeon grows up, she will eventually replace Jack.

I can’t predict any other deaths.  The island was finished with the Kwon’s, and they died.  The island is done with Kate, and despite being shot, she’s still alive.  But I do believe Jack will survive to serve his purpose of being the new Jacob.  Jack can’t die anytime soon.

Below, I am posting links to think last couple of LOST recaps I have done in case you missed them.  Note that I still did new LOST post last week (“The Kwon Kid”), though last week was a rerun:

LOST Recap: Season 6- The Kwon Kid

LOST Recap: Season 6, Episode 12- “The Last Recruit”

LOST Recap: Season 6, Episode 11- “Everybody Loves Hugo”

LOST Recap: Season 6, Episode 13- “The Last Recruit”

Jack and Sawyer are both against The Smoke Monster, so technically they’re on the same team.  Sawyer is escaping The Smoke Monster, while Jack is choosing to face him head-on to attempt to defeat him.  Ultimately, the ongoing theme of science vs. faith and dark vs. light will take place when Jack soon challenges The Smoke Monster.

I forgot Jack has a son in the flash-sideways world.  Who else could Jack’s ex-wife be other than Juliet?  I can’t think of a better candidate.

Hooray, Jin and Sun reunite, at last.  I just wish it wasn’t tainted by the unbelievable storyline of Sun not being able to speak English until she saw Jin again.  But hey, I can’t complain.  They’re back together and they weren’t instantly shot by Faux Tina Fey as soon as they reunited.

Yeah, Jin and Sun have to stay alive a while longer to establish the importance of Baby Kwon as one of the chosen Kwon.

In case you missed last week’s recap for “Everybody Loves Hugo”, click on this link: