The following is my letter to Ryan Murphy regarding the new season of American Horror Story: The Coven, which has depicted the South as racist, incestuous, and ignorant. It is high time Southerns complain about the unfair treatment we receive at Hollywood’s hands.
Dear Mr. Murphy,
I will be typing this letter to you in addition to hand writing a letter. You are probably old enough to know and remember that a handwritten letter is a sign that someone is very devoted to saying what is in the letter. It is a mark of personal attention. However, the latest vogue of thought is that handwritten letters are to be mocked as unprofessional and backwards. Given your recent portrayal of the South, I do not wish to risk you thinking that I am some mere backwards hick from the sticks, as it were.
I have enjoyed your show, American Horror Story. However, I must take great exception to the newest installment, The Coven. Being a Southerner, I have always known and been forced to tolerate the portrayal of the South by Hollywood. However, it seems that your show goes one step further than even the worst movie about the South I have ever seen.
In the past three episodes, you have painted the South as racist. You have shown Southern religious people as fanatics that burn women at the stake. You have depicted us as rednecks that point guns in people’s faces with no justification. You have portrayed us as incest mongers. At every turn, you have used every single negative stereotype of the South and yet somehow managed not to show the nice stereotypes (such as that we are helpful, polite, and hospitable). If a director had given the same level of stereotypical treatment to any other group (blacks, gays, etc.), you would have been personally appalled. It seems as though the only groups Hollywood can slander are the South and Christians.
Racism has always existed and will always exist. It is not a Southern thing. It is not even a white thing. You can have a racist black man in Atlanta, Georgia. You can have a racist white woman in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. However, Southerners get along nicely. There is no open animosity as depicted by Hollywood. If you want race riots or police brutality, I suggest you look to New York, Chicago, or your own home of Los Angeles. As far as guns go, we have far more guns and far less homicides than our brothers in the north. Why? Because we were taught to respect human life. Also, we can defend ourselves. As far as the incest charge goes, just like racism, this is part of the human condition and can be found anywhere you go.
So, why am I writing you? I am writing you to tell you that I am disappointed in you. That is all. You tout yourself as breaking down barriers and stereotypes on your show, Glee. But here you are selling the same shlock that Hollywood has shoved down the throats of Americans for the last fifty years. Hollywood is the reason why the rest of America views us as uneducated, backwards, racist hicks. Again, if the show was on any other group, you would never dream of using such a cliché portrayal. I would challenge you to spend some time in the South. Stay a couple of weeks in Savannah. After you eat our food, you probably won’t want to leave. I plan to continue watching your show. It’s still probably the best thing on at ten o’clock on Wednesday, but know that falling back on stereotypes is a sign of lazy writing and is offensive.
Troy David Newham