Tuesday, June 24, 2008

One Woman's Opinion: The Midwest Sucks.

I have been living in American Midwest, Michigan specifically, for roughly a month. I must admit that I have never been a big supporter of the Midwest. Why is it so flat? Why is it so conservative? Why do Indiana and Ohio exist? However, since I voluntarily decided to spend 3 months in Michigan, I decided to fly to the fly-over states with a moderately open-mind.

Despite good intentions, I have found that yes, it’s true, the Midwest does really suck. I may not be the most bipartisan opinion considering I am currently bitter and bored: I desperately miss my New England heady hamlet and am currently living the life of a single alcoholic 60 year old (watching 3 hours of Law & Order on basic cable guzzling a big bottle of wine).

My observations of the Midwest are not of an up and coming indie city like Kansas City or Detroit. These observations, in anthropology called “field notes,” are based upon my assessment of the very worst of this, my Midwestern town. I should mention that there is some indie and heady cred in this college town, but I’m in a bad mood, so I won’t be focusing upon that. Note: these assessments are not based upon scientific data and may be exaggerated.

  1. Jesus has risen, apparently in the Midwest. People here love Jesus. A lot. Driving around with my dad, I was blinded by Christ’s light, finding that 1 in every 10 cars had God as their co-pilot. “God Saves” and “God is Love” adorned lots of midsize sedans. A sticker of kids praying at a cross decorated the back of a pickup truck. What happened to Calvin peeing on a ford sign? Driving across the state, I saw a billboard stating “90 percent of women regret their abortions.” I’d pay my last $20 to see where they got their "research," but it was sponsored by a church, so it must be true. I have driven a lot around this country and I have never seen so many Jesus car stickers as I have in the Midwest. Barak Obama said that people in this country cling to guns and religion because they do.
  2. Everyone is overweight and tragically unfashionable. Every time I leave my house, I feel like I am at the mall, which is really nightmarish. Girls love Aeropostale, Pac Sun, and hair-straighteners. Dudes love looking like bros. My father is a known weightist (a made-up word for the dislike of heifers) and while he says, “Jesus! Look at that person! She can barely get out of her car!” I try to defend the 300 lb woman, stating she probably doesn’t have the education of or luxury to good food and exercise. But, I am really smirking and agreeing with my “make sure you get a run in” father.
  3. The Midwest has the reputation for being friendly. I don’t know how that came to be because everyone here is an asshole. I had some tacky girl (see no. 2) at a coffee shop give me major attitude about grinding some whole beans for me. For some reason, the pissed-off, I hate you/me barista attitude is more acceptable if it comes from a good looking, well-dressed, or barista/screen-printer and not from some 17-year-old who loves sparkly shirts and Rhiannon’s new single .
  4. The accent is unbearable; think Eliza Doolittle (thank you, Emily) meets the cartoon matriarch of Bobby’s World. The Midwest accent is thought of as honest and earnest, but I think it makes people sound stupid, country, and uncultured. But maybe you just hate what you are: there is proof (on video!) that at age 5, I had a god-awful Midwestern accent: “Asked” was “aaased.” Luckily I moved to New York shortly after and I lost the Midwest accent without gaining a Long Island accent. However, occasionally, I will still call my father “Ded” not “Daaad.” And to be fair, I hate almost all accents unless they are derived from Europe. Southern? Long Island? Cringe.

What I hate most about the Midwest is what I hate most about the U.S.; Americans are fat, tacky Jesus freaks. My wish for the Midwest is that the whole region would flood. Just kidding! A wise woman once said that the Midwest gets its pokey, uncool reputation because it is pokey and uncool. Any rising scenes from the Midwest should stop lamenting the superiority of the Northeast and Brooklyn and celebrate the fact that they were at all able to become “hip” while being surrounded by fatties and bible-thumpers. It’s quite an accomplishment, Bon Iver!


happycountrygirl said...

Wow. You are really disturbed. I feel sorry for you, as you clearly live in a black expanse devoid of happiness and joy. Good luck to you.

20somethinggirl said...

I agree with all of your statements about the midwest. I have been here for a fewmonths and I DETEST it. There is no culture. It is ugly as sin. It is boring as hell. God I HATE it here. I cannot wait to move back to the East Coast.

MiamiChick said...

100% true. I've been living in Michigan for a year and I made the same observations. I thought I was just being narrow-minded until I spoke with other non-Michiganders living here.

I have to add to that list the word PURITANICAL. Midwesterners are afraid to live outloud, to be bold, to stir the pot, or to stand-out in any way. There is no definitive culture other than "being nice" or "living to hunt" and no passion for fresh food or good music. The accent just about drives me insane.

Also, young adults don't seem very ambitious and seem to be content with living their whole lives in the same town. There's no curiosity for the world outside.

This place is a cultural blackhole. Can't wait to go back to Florida.

wisconsin sucks said...

Feeling morose here in Madison Wi, I googled "the midwest sucks" and found this refuge of shared opinion. I am from the west coast and moved to this siberian shit hole for professional reasons. What is wrong with these people? Everyone is so intrusive and has absolutely no sense of humor. And the food is horrible, greasy and everything covered in cheese. Has no one heard of fruits and vegetables? This is supposed to be prime farm country what the hell do they grow out here? And the women are so scary with their over processed hair (sorry but over frosted hair went out with spandex) and gobs of eye makeup, and why does anyone need that much fragrance? AHHHHHHH! I hate this place!

Tonia said...

yes! as a jersey girl who's lived in brooklyn for years, but has had to suffer through multiple trips to the midwest thanks to my wonderful boyfriend's family being there (he escaped, he's okay), i completely agree. the midwest is a cultural and culinary wasteland (with the exception of chicago of course). where else can someone live less than a mile from local farms and still buy their groceries at walmart? the food is crap, they put sugar and/or ketchup in everything, and the people are NOT NICE. They're cold, closed-minded and judgemental, and afraid of anything that's different from their bland, boring lives.

Gabrielle said...

OMG! This is hilarious! I'm a California girl stuck in D.C., and, oddly enough, you've got this crap-hole pegged as well! Well written!

Displaced in STL said...

I also live in the midwest and feel the need to say... YOU ARE OH SO RIGHT! I live near the downtrodden and trailer park ridden St. Louis. I hope to move as soon as circumstances allow. I have seen dirty toilets that were more inviting then the midwest!

mary said...

I would agree in part; the midwest largely sucks. I have lived in northern Ohio for most of my life. I lived in Seattle for four years and some nights I awake in a cold sweat wondering why I moved back. I agree everyone is fat and just as fashionably challenged. I could better tolerate the flat land if the housing wasn't ugly as hell. And forget buying a barcelona chair anywhere; there are no good furniture stores outside of Chicago, Cincy and Pittsburgh. And there is a reason so much bible thumping goes on: I believe that a lot of "God's children" pray as a coping mechanism after they realize how culturally and economically shortchanged they are.

Now I say the midwest sucks in part because it does enjoy a few good qualities. The real estate is cheap. A house going for $300,000 right in Seattle would bring about $70,000 in Ohio (and that is on a good day). Bar drinks are also cheap, and I mean cheap. I can get a good Tom Collins AND Long Island ice tea both for about $6. I couldn't get either of those drinks for under $10 anywhere in Manhattan. Of course, all anyone does in the midwest when they are not eating themselves to death is soaking their miserable lives in alcohol. And, aside from the occasional tornado, the midwest does not suffer from earthquakes, hurricanes, mudslides, or raging fires.

Some people may consider the aforementioned a small price to pay in exchange for a better part of the country, but that's what weekend getaways and frequent flyer miles are for.

chris winters said...

Whatever. I left Michigan 11 years ago and lived in LA, San Fran, and Vancouver and guess what, I couldn't wait to get back. All you spout is cliches. After 11 years of experiencing the perpetual self absorbed condescending adolescents of Cali I longed for the "real" people from back home. Cali has got to be one of the worst run states, bad roads, dysfunctional schools and insane taxes, and its filled with the most self centered and superficially ego driven nut cases on the planet. Talk about hubris. I don't know where you are hanging out in Michigan but at least the people are concerned with real life, are humble and nice when you are looking down on them, and can actual talk in depth about a range of topics and not just spout what they heard last night on the daily show. They also have goals beyond driving a BMW 5 series while feeling good about it because they just installed a water saver faucet in their 3rd guest bedroom. And for the record none of my friends and family are Jesus freaks, I dont know where you are seeing that in Michigan, although they do drive more American cars here. And how about actually having quality public schools where the kids learn without paying 15k a year from kindergarten on so the white kids dont have to mingle with the "brown and black" kids while the parents pretend to love diversity, let alone being able to have a nice safe 3000sq foot house with a yard for under 200k. Not to mention the incredible seasons and breathtaking lakes and forests. Sounds to me like you took your preconceived coastal unfounded attitudes and simply are seeing what you choose to see. Its ok, go back and lead your ego driven, superficial life on the coast where you feel you belong. And oh yeah, to the person that ended her post with being proud of living in FLORIDA?? are you kidding?

chatterhead said...

Thanks, Chris. Finally. Talk about closed mindedness--this kook's "revolution" is clearly with herself. Life is what one makes of it. Why doesn't she embrace our lifestyle like she wants us to embrace hers? Such a baby! Grow up, Revo Girl! You are guaranteeing yourself more bad experiences. As long as you sneer and lash out at people, no matter where you go, people are going to sneer and lash out at you. I'll bet the Midwesterners you've encountered had some shocking things to say about the type of people (you) that your area produces, too! While you're out there exercising your vile opinions, try equally exercising genuine kindness and see if your experiences with us change! Good luck.

G Michael Leonard said...

You hit the hammer straight on the nail. I grew up in NW Indiana. Left in the early 80's for a few years, went in the military and saw that the world was not a flat earth. I went back there for a while when I got out and was open minded. However the people that I knew did not become older and wiser- the world of a Midwestern is that of a 25 mile radius of a flat earth that is centered around themselves. They like to proudly proclaim that when they drive out of town that they are "out of town." After spending two years in the artic shithole, I couldn't stand it anymore. Moved south. Never again. These people were born stupid and raised stupid.

Chain Chomp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chain Chomp said...

I bet you sat and enjoyed the smell your own farts as you wrote this stupid shit.
The west and east coast really need to disappear up their own asses.
Florida too.

Sincerely With Love, Ohio.

alien said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said...

I moved up north to New England for a few years and became extremely depressed. People seemed retarded, out of date, had naive 1960s style mentalities. I began to dislike the Democrats, though formerly I had only hated Republicans. Then, amazingly, there are many Obese people in New England, so fat they need electric wheel chairs. Then you have street preachers. They are extremely agressive and insulting. They say things like "your are not a real man" and yell in your face. Meanwhile, the locals claim that they are not very religious and make a thing of it, though I swear the place is crawling with weird cults.

anonymous said...

What is even weirder about New England, is a feeling like you have come into their secret area and they dont want you to see the real truth that they are not that great!

Lenore said...

I want to first start out by saying I consider myself to be very open-minded and I lived over all over this beautiful country. I am proud to say I have lived in every part of this country except the Northwest. Out of the 5 different states I have lived in I would happily move back to any of them except the 1 Midwestern state. The Missouri chapter was the longest 6 years of my life. Just after 2 weeks I had made a huge mistake. I cannot vouch for any other Midwestern states but was absolutely true for Missouri. I thought I was being mean or narrow minded by thinking the same items that you listed but I’m happy that I am not the only person that thought this.
As I would drive down I-70 to work I would lose count of the amount of Jesus, abortion, firework and adult toy store billboards that were plastered all over the place. But I would think “at least it was something to look at” since my other option was the vast plains of fields, cows, and abandon trailers that lined the highway. I always thought it was odd that the “nice friendly Midwesterner “ would always make it a point to start discussing how it’s so much better to grow up in the Midwest and they don’t know how I was to survive growing up in NYC. Then I would remind them that none of my friends dropped out of high school, did drugs, or got pregnant. That would usually stop the conversation. The biggest mystery
I am still trying ponder. Is why would someone who is “Christian” (and I knew this because they told me all the time) would talk badly about another “Christian” just because they were Baptist and their neighbor was Methodist or so on. It would remind me of rival high schools from some bad after school movie. From my understanding we all believe in the same God and I don’t remember reading in the bible or learning at my evil Catholic school that God thought one church was better than another church

Eric Shelton said...

I have to say I agree wholeheartedly. I found this page after searching for "the midwest sucks", simply because I feel so alone and isolated in the culture and was hoping to find someone to either commiserate with or change my mind.

I grew up in Tucson, and always thought that was kind of a small town! After all, Phoenix was just 90 minutes up the road. But after moving to Fargo, ND in July of 2012 for work (I volunteered to get on my manager's good side, because nobody else in the company wants to go there), I'm finally learning what a real podunk is. And the hilarious part is all the small towns around here fighting with each other, as West Fargo has property and tax battles with Fargo, Dilworth is considered a separate town, etc. They're all so petty, small-minded, and insular.

My high school had a greater population than a lot of these little towns. I lived in England for three years, the Seychelles for a few months, I've spent a few days in Dubai, and moved from Tucson to Las Vegas. I've been to beautiful Washington, D.C. and vacationed in sunny California and any given opportunity. I've hiked the trails of Oregon's Silver Falls State Park and been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Then there's your average Fargoan, "I've lived here all my life and can't ever imagine leaving!" They say it with such joy. Such pride.

How can someone with such an insular and limited view of the world make reasonable statements about anything? What do they really know? What have they really seen or experienced? I enjoy my time in Afghanistan more than I do Fargo. At least there are mountains here, and an interesting culture. And better food.

It's not the fat people that bug me here, though they do make me mindful to watch my own weight. It's the stupidity, ignorance, and shoddy work. They tout themselves proudly as a "college town", despite most of the educational opportunities being limited to trade-schools and agriculture. Look, I appreciate that blue collar workers and farmers support the rest of the nation, I really do. It's the sheer ignorance of the outside world that baffles me.

Poorly planned roads. Shoddily built houses. Houses built "because we've always done it this way", rather than looking for solutions to environmental factors. Blue laws that restrict business on Sunday, while at the same time saying Sharia Law is awful- because religion intruding on the lives of others is okay when it's your religion. The list goes on and on.

It's called flyover country for a reason.

New Yorker said...

Thanks so much for posting this entry... I couldn't agree more.

I'm an educated and progressive mid-20 something from New York City who spent my first year (of four) of medical training in Chicago, IL, before returning to NYC. When I decided to move to Chicago, I thought I needed to 'get away' from the hustle and bustle of the East Coast; I thought Chicago would be "90% NYC at 50% the price." I found Chicago to be one of the most close-minded, conservative, homophobic, crime-ridden, and segregated cities that typified the overwhelming denial and repression that pervades life in the Midwest. Dearth of culture, creativity, excitement.

Even a city like Chicago is filled with tacky, unfashionable, bible-thumping Jesus freaks. I would walk to work and often encounter such freaks preaching on Michigan Avenue. Classless.

My year in Chicago was among the slowest, darkest, dreariest, and coldest of my life (weather-wise and life-wise). I dreamed of the day I would return to New York. When it finally came, and I flew on a one-way from O'Hare to LaGuardia, I vowed never to look back.

REMEMBER - it's called FLYOVER COUNTRY for a reason.

REMEMBER - it's cheap for a reason. I live in a cramped studio paying double the price for an apartment half the size than my palace in Chicago... and I don't mind at all.

I learned my lesson. Never again.