Dare to Ask: Are Californians just unfriendly,
shallow, flaky yuppies?
By Phillip Milano
The Florida Times-Union
Why does everyone outside California think we're all a bunch of jet-setting,
fast-talking, unfriendly, shallow, flaky yuppies?
Dan, 21, Los Angeles area
Most visitors go to Los Angeles, Hollywood, Malibu, etc., and only look to
see the "lifestyles of the rich and famous." When you picture New Jersey, what
do you think? Mall rats and garbage? There are beautiful woods and farmlands
here, and plenty of people who do not fit the stereotype.
Pat, Newton, N.J.
Movies and the media feed the stereotype. I'm from West Virginia, so ... I'm
supposed to be a snaggle-toothed, backward hillbilly who has sex with my
cousins. Stereotypes build over time, and with the media, they are very
difficult to break down.
Marc, 23, Morgantown, W.Va.
I came to California from Texas about a year ago. I don't know why
Californians are stereotyped as laid-back. They always seem to be in a hurry.
They aren't generally friendly like most Texans. Why do so many Californians
finish my sentences? They also eat weird stuff, like food from Trader Joe's.
Deanna, 27, Irvine, Calif.
My stereotype of Californians is they are a lot more liberal than most of the
U.S. They try out new policies first, like affirmative action. I admire that,
because a lot of people are scared to try things that might improve society. But
Californians sometimes fulfill the media stereotype. I laughed when I heard a
girl from California talking - she really did sound like a Valley Girl! Of
course, she probably laughed when she heard me, thinking I sounded like
something out of "Fargo."
Lynn, St. Paul, Minn.
That fruit-loopy Golden State persona? It's real -- for a
small-but-influential portion of the state, said conservative author Jack
Cashill. His recent book "What's The Matter With California?" was a reply to the
2004 best-seller "What's the Matter with Kansas?"
"It's the people who get the most attention who best fit the prototype. The
people of L.A. County are responsible for three quarters of the images people
see ... like 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High,' " he said. "And when the people who
make the movies aren't much more mature than the characters, then the
stereotypes are based in some degree on reality."
A divorce-happy culture, financial woes, scorched housing market, rising
crime and anti-development activists have made an unlivable pariah out of a
once-envied "lovely state," Cashill said. (Yes, we are being fair here. And
"It's hemorrhaging middle-class people, and I don't see a good outcome," he
Things may be turning, though, as some residents rebel against the
"hippy-dippy" ways of coastal parts of the state, Cashill said. For example, he
expects less enthusiasm for events like San Francisco's annual Bay to Breakers
Run, where some participants run in the buff.
"The naked runners on Hayes Street Hill are an endangered species," he said.
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Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
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