I've been traveling around the South for the past week, so I feel I'm qualified to address several common stereotypes about the American South:
1. People in the South are stupid and/or uneducated.
FALSE. People in the South are no more stupid or uneducated than people anywhere else, but they speak using the American Southern dialect, which makes them sound stupid. Anyone sounds stupid using a Southern accent. I firmly believe that, had Einstein been born in Mississippi, we never would have heard of him. He wasn't that smart, really, but he had a German accent, which in the hierarchy of intelligent-sounding accents, is really up there.
Hierarchy of Accents (in order of intelligence, from most to least):
1. British (super genius)
3. Neutral American
9. California Surfer
So you see, the good people of the South are doomed to fail. I heard Princess say, "I don't want to leave this ho-TAYULL!" and wept for the loss of her future.
2. People in the South are unfriendly and/or creepy and/or scary.
I must confess that I don't understand this one. I have met creepy and/or scary people in the South, but this fantasy of the backwoods sadist is just that: a fantasy. In the five Southern states we traversed, we met nothing but smiles and goodwill. (Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Tennessee, in case you are wondering.) The friendliness was present in everyone regardless of race or gender, except for the renegade bartender at Ruby Tuesdays who I suspect was a recent parolee.
3. People in the South have comical fashion sense.
People in the South certainly do have their own aesthetic. Walking through the Wal-Mart in Loganville, GA was like a fashion show compared to the ones I'm used to. People were clean and shod. If that's questionable fashion sense, we all need more of it.
I think people in the South do like things bigger and more colorful, but I really didn't see anyone there who looked any different from the hipsters we see on TV. A shame, really. I wanted some big, big hair.
4. Food in the South is delicious.
I can't defend this one. It is absolutely, completely, 100% true.
*If you haven't already, look at the bumper of the truck in the picture at the top. If you can't see it, click on the photo to enlarge. Stereotype?