Wednesday, September 20, 2006

WaPo hates the OC

STEREOTYPE: a standardized mental picture that is held in common by members of a group and that represents an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude, or uncritical judgment

I opened up the Washington Post today and saw a whole article devoted to the OC. Not the show “The OC” (sorry to disappoint) but the actual county I call home. The Segerstrom family (who practically own the OC) facilitated the creation of a new $200 million concert hall bearing the family name, of course. There are very few things that aren’t cookie cutter and vanilla in the OC, so it’s great to see the Segerstrom’s thinking outside of the box with the look of the concert hall. It’s actually very artsy and different-looking. I want to hate it because the county doesn’t need another fixture named after the Segerstroms, but I can’t.

However, there is one thing I absolutely abhor about the WaPo article. The following made my blood boil:
“But what would you expect from Orange County, an insufferably vulgar place of rich old men and trophy wives and idle youth bored with dropping C-notes in the Louis Vuitton shop? It's a wannabe place.”

As DC’s resident expert on all things OC (ok, so it’s not like there was a vote or anything. I appointed myself to this position), I am shocked and appalled by the decision not to edit this quote out. It’s a stereotype. Why perpetuate it, WaPo? I thought you were mature and above this. Why are you hating on the Best Side?

Unfortunately, “The OC” is at fault for spreading this stereotype. And that other show, “The Desperate Housewives of Orange County” sure didn’t help things either. The two cities showcased in these shows (Newport Beach and Coto de Caza) could be like that. For the record, the women of Coto de Caza voiced their protest over the Desperate Housewives show, saying that it did not portray them accurately.

But Orange County as a whole isn’t like that at all. First of all, the county as a whole is racially diverse. The closest “The OC” came to any diversity was the character of Teresa, who was actually played by someone who wasn’t Latina. Just drive into Santa Ana and you’ll think that you just crossed the border…actually, let me rephrase that since Tijuana is actually quite the hell hole. Driving through Santa Ana is like driving through Little Mexico (sorry, Olvera Street in LA). In fact, I stocked up on pan dulce from there while I was home. And even though Irvine is exactly what a planned community looks like, the city of Orange has kept its“slice of old town charm” since the early 1900s. Old Town Orange, consisting of a plaza that the city built itself around, is a state historical landmark and looks a lot like how it did way back before 1920. The City of Orange isn’t the only city in the OC that has preserved its roots. San Juan Capistrano also looks a lot like it did way back when Catholic missionaries from Mexico came and built a mission there. Heck, even some of the dirt roads are intact.

As far as the people go, I will tell you with absolute confidence that hardworking Mexican immigrants far outnumber the rich and spoiled in the OC. Not every wife is a trophy wife and not every kid is bored and spending daddy’s money. Although some people in the OC consider surfing an educational endeavor (it’s true, look up the curriculum at Huntington Beach High School), not every student is a slacker (ahem…I used to be a hard-working OC student).

So, there you go, WaPo. You’ve now been schooled on all things OC. All I ask is that you please think again before printing hurtful stereotypes.

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