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Whereever you may go...

No matter where I go, I still manage to come across well-intended Iowa insults/stereotypes. You know, the Iowa = Anyplace USA remarks. I've seen Des Moines mentioned in the Radio Times in England for just such a reason. It was an article on Chicken Run when it first came out - and began something along the lines of "People in London may know about this (can't remember what), but what would people in Des Moines, Iowa think?"

Today's was at First Thursday, made by someone who clearly had forgotten, if he ever knew, that I'm an Iowan. He was discussing a painful and amusing incident recounted to him by someone who used to work at the Deep Space Nine area somewhere in Vegas, and he made a remark about the obnoxious Klingons in the story coming from Iowa. He meant wherever, that much was clear from his story. But he chose his example as Iowa.

(Honestly, it's not that I'm hypersensitive about it, I'm just tuned in when the references are made!)

Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
hilly02
Feb. 7th, 2003 01:41 am (UTC)
Sweet Home... Iowa?
Although this may enrage you further, I realized just now that I don't even know where Iowa is. I'm fairly certain it's in the middle, somewhere... I'm just not too good with those middle states, having spent my entire life on the fringes of America, clinging to coasts and oceans and such (Montana excluded). Iowa... it instills no feeling in me whatsoever, much like 'Delaware'. Not bad, not good, just nothing.
I'm sure it's nice though. It IS a state, right? (heh. heheh. *ducks as you throw sharp objects in her direction)
owlfish
Feb. 7th, 2003 06:30 am (UTC)
Re: Sweet Home... Iowa?
*grin*

Nahh, it doesn't bother me. Lots of people have to ask, especially those ignorant Americans who come from one of the coastal states and believe there's nothing else to their country other than the the coasts.

South of Minnesota, north of Missouri, west of Illinois, east of Kansas and Nebraska, between the Mississippi (to the east) and Missouri (to the west) rivers. In other words, it's in the middle. A very average sized state with a very average sized population, with a high concentration of corn, soybeans, hogs, cows, and insurance companies.

And no, just in case you ask, I didn't grow up on a farm. And yes, there are cities there. Honest!
phonephobic
Feb. 7th, 2003 06:38 am (UTC)
Re: Sweet Home... Iowa?
> And yes, there are cities there.

Let me disagree, please. There is a city in Iowa, not cities. I know because I live here too.

:))
owlfish
Feb. 7th, 2003 06:45 am (UTC)
Re: Sweet Home... Iowa?
Yes but - that doesn't help me make my point!

Anyways, there are plenty of places called cities there, even if they aren't really. And Dubuque and Cedar Rapids take up enough space on the map that the unknowing could be convinced otherwise as long as they didn't go there.

But yes, you're right.
phonephobic
Feb. 7th, 2003 07:21 am (UTC)
Re: Sweet Home... Iowa?
Hehe, sorry for not helping you there. It's just I have so many friends picking up on me because I live in Iowa and they don't that I even kind of agree with them. And "Des Moines - oh, I know, it's in Indiana - is that where you live now?" remarks aren't even funny already.
owlfish
Feb. 7th, 2003 11:27 am (UTC)
Re: Sweet Home... Iowa?
It's true, lots of people from Iowa don't think highly of it. For some reason, I always did. It's not just nostalgia, now that I'm not living there. Long before I went away to university, I especially loved my home state. My sister always wanted to leave. I always wanted to stay. Ironically, she's still closer to home than I am.
hilly02
Feb. 7th, 2003 06:41 am (UTC)
Re: Sweet Home... Iowa?
I believe you just called me ignorant. To which I might reply, if the 'middle states' want recognition, maybe they should do something about it (besides produce corn)!
*sticks tongue out at you*
tammabanana
Feb. 7th, 2003 07:31 am (UTC)
Re: Sweet Home... Iowa?
Me too, me too!

*joins in the display of tongues*

I think the middle states' locations are hard to remember because they border each other, and not a well-defined physical thinger whose shape is easy to imagine, like the oceans, the Great Lakes, and Mexico. Canada doesn't count because its border is a straight line, there's nothing memorable about that. Anyway, the point is that it's hard for me to picture the gooey cream filling of America, but the outline is easier. Maine to Florida to Texas to California to Washington to Canada and back again to Maine!
hilly02
Feb. 7th, 2003 07:32 am (UTC)
Re: Sweet Home... Iowa?
thank you! I don't necessarily mean disrespect; it's just the honest truth.
owlfish
Feb. 7th, 2003 11:21 am (UTC)
Re: Sweet Home... Iowa?
Of course I called you ignorant! It was only fair for doubting Iowa was even a state. :) Anyways, I didn't mean it in a bad kind of you. YOU were the one who said you didn't even know where Iowa was. And you're part of millions of other people who don't either. I spent four years living in Massachusetts and had people wondering just where Iowa was at least half the time I mentioned the state. It's a common problem people from the coasts have, so I certainly don't hold it against you. It's just a hazard that comes of living in a coastal state.

I sometimes have trouble with the whole messiness of Ohio/Indiana/Kentucky area of the US for where all the states are, but Minnesota to Louisiana I find really easy since the states all pile up nice and neatly along the Mississippi. Then again, I come from one of them.
hilly02
Feb. 7th, 2003 11:49 am (UTC)
Re: Sweet Home... Iowa?
there's an Indiana?
owlfish
Feb. 7th, 2003 12:37 pm (UTC)
Re: Sweet Home... Iowa?
Apparently. In theory, I've even been there, although really, that university campus and winery could have been just about any land grant university anywhere in the U.S. Although the winery was quite nice. I still have a bottle of blackberry wine to drink from it...

rhiannon76 seems to think she even lives there currently.
tammabanana
Feb. 7th, 2003 02:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Sweet Home... Iowa?
I live in Indiana!

Owait... are we talking about a state, here?
owlfish
Feb. 7th, 2003 11:25 am (UTC)
Re: Sweet Home... Iowa?
Be proud of the fact you're part of a large demographic of equally ignorant people from the coasts. I don't think the less of you for it! I've met dozens of people from US coastal states who don't know where Iowa is, let alone people from other countries! Although I might think a little less of you if you don't like the Dar Williams song "Iowa", but that's an entirely different kettle of fish from having the vaguest clue of where the state is.

I've lost track of which posts are responding to which anymore - elsewhere somewhere in this thread I just wrote things about getting states confused and the messy bits. Deleware and Maryland also regularly confuse me, thinking about it.

Mmmm... gooey cream filling.
tammabanana
Feb. 7th, 2003 02:21 pm (UTC)
Re: Sweet Home... Iowa?
Bwaha! Dar William's "Iowa" is one of my favorites!

I don't get confused between Delaware and Maryland, but that's only because I live in a state bordering both of them. Delaware is the puny little thing to the east of me; Maryland is the weirdly-shaped thing to the south. Anything to the west of Ohio starts mushing together in the gooey cream filling, for me.
innostrantsa
Feb. 8th, 2003 12:11 am (UTC)
*snorting*

um, you may wish to stay away from good omens, as Des Moines is the generic american city of choice. and you thought gaiman and pratchett had such imagination... *giggling*
owlfish
Feb. 8th, 2003 07:59 am (UTC)
Re: *snorting*
I know, I remember that. As I tried to make clear, it doesn't actually *really* bother me, it's just something I notice. At one small level, it's just nice to see my home state mentioned at all. I get really excited whenever I see Iowa in the newspaper - although preferably for good things. And honestly, if your state's stereotype is "good honest home-grown salt-of-the-earth people" -- well, it could be an awful lot worse. (Tangent: do you follow Neil Gaiman's weblog?)

The best - or worst - example is actually MST3K, although for entirely different reasons, since they were made in Minnesota - Iowa's main rival. They very frequently include Iowa jokes.
evieb
Feb. 10th, 2003 03:52 am (UTC)
As a Tonbridgian I get the whole Tunbridge Wells English stereotype
It isn't just Iowa that gets this treatment I am afraid. There is a phrase "disgusted of Tunbridge Wells", mocking the kind of person whose response to any outrage is to write a letter to the Times. I have often heard this expanded to cover the whole "what would Tunbridge Wells say" stereotype. That would cover the Times reading, rather posh (often imagined as a retired officer with ridiculous whiskers), easily offended, incredibly rigid of thinking, very snobbish, conservative voting public. I am from Tonbridge, the medieval town next door that the regency spa town of Tunbridge Wells takes it's name. We often get lumped into that stereotype. Whenever I hear either Tonbridge or T.Wells mentioned anywhere, someone has to make a quip about disgusted of T.Wells or a variation on it.

At least you get to be the everyman of America according to stereotypes. A little bland and unjust a stereotype, but I'd rather be the everyman than the reactionary snob who gets offended at everything liberal or modern and writes a letter to the Times about it. Perhaps now isn't the time to admit that my husband and I do read the Times, but that is mostly because I read the paper my husband leaves lying around the home instead of buying a second paper. OK, being too lazy to buy a second paper and so reading what my husband chooses really isn't helping my case so I think I'll be quiet now.
owlfish
Feb. 10th, 2003 07:27 am (UTC)
Re: As a Tonbridgian I get the whole Tunbridge Wells English stereotype
You make a good point. You're right, I would rather be everyman than a reactionary snob. At least everyman gets some respect! Anyways, I don't think whiskers would suit you.

Happily, I don't know the UK newspapers well enough to have strong opinions about their readership, so I won't pass judgement on you based on the newspaper you're reading right now... give me a few years!
evieb
Feb. 10th, 2003 09:06 am (UTC)
Ah well, guess I'd better shave off the whiskers
Shame, I thought that it made me look distinguished, especially when combined with my monacle and tweed suit.

Eve
(Anonymous)
Mar. 5th, 2003 07:14 pm (UTC)
Whereever you may go... (My Klingon Story)
Hmm, I believe that that was my story of how I came to break my arm in Las Vegas. Actually, I *do* know that you are from Iowa and that was why I (hypothetically) had the lads who jumped into their van in commercial grade Klingon suits for a weekend in Vegas originate from there (they, by the way, had nothing to do with the arm - they were a digression from the main story). I was originally going to say "from Canada" as an example of the sort of place where this kind of zaniness takes place but then, in honour of my audience, I changed it to "from Iowa".

I'm not quite sure about which Iowanic Stereotype I'm being accused of perpetuating here. However, if I had been thinking of "Nowheres-ville" or "people escaping from a horrible Mundane existence" I would have said "Peoria" ("Will it play in Peoria?") or "Saskatoon" ("Will the last person leaving Saskatchewan please turn out the lights?"). If that's the case then I apologize for giving that impression. As a Canadian I have some small experience with the "Bland" stereotype (Highway 61 - the movie: "What were you thinking?! You're a barber! You're FROM CANADA!").

Still, to remain above suspicion, I am now motivated to become a font of knowledge about Iowa: http://www.traveliowa.com; home state of Buffalo Bill, Herbert Hoover, John Wayne and the Maytag Repairman; state stone, the Geode!...

spectrum@ca.inter.net
owlfish
Mar. 5th, 2003 07:38 pm (UTC)
Iowa
Indeed it was, and I had not realized you knew or were aware. Where exactly I'm from doesn't come up in conversation very often. I took no offense, it was more amusing to have yet-another-Iowa-stereotype-sounding-story for my collection of them. After all, Good Omens has one, and MST3K are chock-full of them (although they're from Minnesota, so it's a little different - inter-state rivalry.)

I'm actually somewhat disappointed to hear that the characters in your story weren't actually from Iowa - it changes a perfectly good story and means I can't use it anymore as an example of an Iowa-stereotype-story! Although I did not feel at all suspicious of your opinions on Iowa really, I'm always pleased to know more people are educating themselves on the subject!

Thank you for the note - regardless of your intentions, posting on the subject has certainly created an enjoyable discussion - so it was well worth it.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )