A Republican ad that shows a couple of regular-looking guys commiserating in a diner about West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) turns out to have been shot with actors, from a script, in Philadelphia.
But not just any actors: “We are going for a ‘Hicky’ Blue Collar look,” read the casting call for the ad, being aired by the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “These characters are from West Virginia so think coal miner/trucker looks.”
It's funny, when I saw the ad I thought I thought it was strangely "stereotypical" but figured that they must have used some locals who fit the stereotypes who they could trot out if there was any outcry. It didn't occur to me that they would cast actors and script a commercial like this.
I suppose the reason I was so aware of it was that when Blue America casted its ads for the Blanche Lincoln campaign, we cast actors, but we went out of our way not to do what these people apparently did. I have been so schooled over the years in regional sensitivities that I wouldn't dream of playing around with accents and "hicky" wardrobe. Not that it stopped people from criticizing our ads for failing to use proper Arkansas accents and authentic local fashion --- critics will always find something. But there was no way in hell we were going to go there. And anyway, accents and clothes aren't particularly reliable indicators of much these days. Plenty of Southerners don't sound like Haley Barbour and I see plaid shirts and Cat hats all over east LA.
But this isn't the first time, even this week, that this has come up. Beck's radio partner did an egregiously stereotyped impression of the Tennessee homeowner who's house they let burn down the other day that rather shocked me. I thought making fun of southerners in that way was strictly verboten (unless you are Jeff Foxworthy.) But apparently the right wingers didn't get the memo. Interesting.