When I hear about people joking about West Virginia it ruffles my feathers. I am not a native to the Mountain State so I find it even more offensive when outsiders make fun of the people I love and work with everyday. Last month I was again disappointed when I heard that The Daily Show’s Twitter feed called my state “Creepy”.
The Daily Show’s Twitter statement that I have linked to, shared a disparaging comment about West Virginia and it struck me as irritating. As usual, a person who knows nothing about history or culture has attempted to paint a crude generalisation about the people who call West Virginia home. Calling West Virginia “creepy” and implying that West Virginia is not the “Good Virginia”, pissed me off for about 2 seconds. It took me two seconds to get mad and then two seconds more to understand that maybe being creepy is not such a bad thing…. Let me explain.
West Virginia is 75% wooded and has a population of about 1,844,128 about 36,488,393 LESS than California! That ranks West Virginia in the lowest 12 populated states in our county. So lots of woods, few people, few big cities, means less of the problems that many of our Western States face. Massive growth and terrible air pollution( I know about this one, I grew up in the Denver Metro Area and you can keep the brown cloud) are just a few of the Less Creepy Problems that California, Colorado and Nevada face everyday. Then when we start to think about Virginia you know the “NOT SO CREEPY STATE”… the one with Washington D.C. I wonder if the Daily Show would like us to forget the constant gridlock of traffic in and out of the Capital City?The high cost of living( 6th highest in the country) and the amount of people pleaser who live in and around D.C. Also does The Daily Show really want all of us to forget about the Crime Rates of other states and cities all over the country? We are not perfect here in West Virginia but we do have some really great things going on, maybe Creepy is not so bad after all.
As my mind rolled this twitter post around over the following weeks, something came to mind. It is a very specific kind beauty that popped into my imagination. An image of something that is not found just anywhere but in the deep hollows and on the high ridge tops. The beauty of the ancient and of the decaying, the beauty of the “Wild and Wonderful”. The beauty that is found in hard work and long-suffering,the kind of beauty that is epic and larger than a single story. These are not the images of perfect clean beaches, crisp snow-covered vistas or smooth sandy deserts. They are not images of the huge skyscrapers or modern metro stations. They are images that are creepy and I love them.
I am not a fantastic writer or photographer, but I have dedicated my blog to trying to share the magic of my state. I share my love of the creepy, decaying, damp, world that I see every day.
If you find in some way that these photos are creepy, then you have discovered the ancient magic of West Virginia. A magic that is not always visible to outsiders, as the above Tweet reveals. West Virginia does not open her secret vaults to all who pass by her borders. She remains hidden just like Avalon in Camelot.Only allowing those who understand her mystery to view her treasures.
So, I now am wondering if maybe Trevor Noah and the crew at The Daily Show are close to the truth when posting that West Virginia is “Creepy”. Maybe our lives seem foreign to people who live in the big city under the spotlight. I am thinking maybe being Creepy is the very best way to keep our state a secret for another generation.Saving all of us Mountaineers from the problems of the “Good Virginia” and other states.
I’ve never bothered to watch/listen/follow/pay attention to “The Daily Show”; I don’t find ‘talking heads’ worth considering – they are paid to grab peoples’ attention by any means necessary. But I have run into this sort of attitude – not about West Virginia in particular but about any place outside the East Coast metro area. It is stereotyping at its greatest, and something I don’t appreciate when I encounter it.
What a wonderful well-thought-out response. Thank you.
I didn’t get to see a lot of West Virginia when I was at WVU, but I visited several areas with friends and it truly is a beautiful state. I guess it’s easy to pick on because there aren’t as many people to offend, but I’ve seen creepy and creepier parts of many other states.
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I’ll take natural landscape and a rural lifestyle any day over the noise, the cement, and the plastic crowds in the city.
Hey JoLynn, Great post! I don’t pay any attention to The Daily Show — and these days TV in general. I’m with you – call it creepy if that means keeping it pristine, beautiful, peaceful backcountry! As a matter of fact, West Virginia is on our short list for a place to go to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary this summer! Thanks for your wonderful pictures and well thought out post!