Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

February 26, 2008

W.Va. stereotyping — Hollywood takes another ‘Wrong Turn’

Here we go again. It looks like West Virginia will once again be portrayed negatively on the big screen in an upcoming movie starring actress Julianne Moore. This time, the Mountain State will be stereotyped as a home for those who are inbred.

Surprise. Surprise. It’s not like we haven’t been slapped in the face with that one before.

News of this planned insult came to light Tuesday in an Associated Press report detailing a casting call for the supernatural horror thriller “Shelter.” The story explained how a Pittsburgh casting agency is seeking extras with unique physical features for a scene in a West Virginia “holler.”

“The casting call said the film is looking for extras who are extraordinarily tall or short, those with unusual body shapes and unusual facial features, especially eyes, and even people with physical abnormalities as long as they have normal mobility,” according to the AP story.

If that’s not bad enough, the AP reported the casting agency also advertised for a young girl, 9 to 12 years old, with an “other-worldly look ... could be an albino or something along those lines — she’s someone who is visually different and therefore has a closer contact to the gods and to magic. ‘Regular-looking’ children should not attend this open call.”

News of the casting call drew a quick response from Gov. Joe Manchin, who noted there was obviously no “real understanding of who the people of West Virginia are,” and said it was “not only unfortunate, but in this case offensive.”

He’s right. But it’s not like Hollywood hasn’t been quick to offend before.

In the 2003 horror movie “Wrong Turn,” West Virginia was depicted in such a blatantly atrocious manner it was almost ludicrous — had it not been so insulting.

The movie’s plot revolved around a group of young men and women who were stalked and murdered by inbred hillbillies with super strength. The site of the carnage was “Greenbrier Backcountry, West Virginia,” which flashed across the screen soon after the opening credits rolled.

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