Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Boasting & Bragging

I find a Texas thing or two a bit perplexing at times. One is the concept of bragging rights or boasting. I see this in that newspaper I've complained about before, but continue to buy and read, that being the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Like today there is an article about American Idol. That is a TV show where boys and girls sing and people call in over and over again in a sort of a fraudulent public vote to determine the winner.

The first winner of American Idol was a Texan. You never see her name in the Star-Telegram without her hometown as a modifier, as in "Burleson's Kelly Clarkson". Today's American Idol article did the usual Kelly Clarkson mention. The headline for the article is "The latest 'Idol' boasts North Texas ties".

The article goes on to give a look at the 4 American Idol top 24 people with a Texas tie, saying "Two contestants in the top 24 cite North Texas cities as their hometowns, another has lived here, and another is married to someone from here".

Okay, so 2 actually live in North Texas towns. In the details the 'one who lived here', basically grew up and lives in Oregon, is now 24 and spent one year in Dallas, Frisco and McKinney. The one who married someone in Texas is an Australian living in LA who married a girl from Fort Worth and has visited here.

Now, how does this boasting thing work? Does someone from north Texas run into someone from south Texas and proceed to brag that north Texas has 4 people on American Idol? And two of those actually live there?

This boast/brag thing seems closely related to another odd pathology I've made note of before, that being the Green With Envy pathology where the Star-Telegram would say this that or the other totally ordinary thing in Fort Worth made towns far and wide green with envy or was the envy of towns far and wide. Strangely, ever since I webpaged examples of this bizarre verbiage from the Star-Telegram I have not seen another incident in that paper of something causing others to be green with envy.

Now back to this bragging about someone being from here thing. The Star-Telegram always does this. Like actor Bill Paxton apparently is from Fort Worth. Any mention of him is always Fort Worth native Bill Paxton. An actress named Betty Buckley is from Fort Worth, so it is always Fort Worth native Betty Buckley. Today there was mention made of Betty's brother, who I'd never heard of, Fort Worth native Norman Buckley, who apparently got an award at some obscure event called the "Eddie" Awards. I guess Fort Worth will now have the bragging rights and likely a city wide celebration because a Fort Worth native won a prestigious "Eddie" Award. Whatever that is. I guess I could look it up.

A country music singer I'd not heard of, Pat Green, moved to Fort Worth, with the Star-Telegram saying this now gave Fort Worth bragging rights regarding what they called the Texas Transient's move to FW, and that this move had Dallas, Lubbock and Waco green with envy. I am not making this up.

I could go on and on with examples of the "native of" verbiage, but won't. If I haven't made a point by now, more examples aren't going to do so.

So, where I used to live I subscribed to 2 newspapers, the Seattle P-I and the Skagit Valley Herald. Seattle has a few celebrities and well known people, as does the Skagit Valley. Burl Ives lived in the Skagit town of Anacortes til he died. I don't recollect ever reading his name in an article with verbiage like Anacortes native Burl Ives. That guy who played Jesus in that Mel Gibson movie, Jim Caviezel, is from the town I lived in, Mount Vernon. I don't recollect either the P-I or the SV Herald ever referencing him as Mount Vernon native, Jim Caviezel. The richest man in the world was born and raised and still lives in the Seattle zone. I don't recollect ever reading him referred to as Washington native Bill Gates, or Seattle native Bill Gates. Nirvana's Kurt Cobain grew up in the Washington coastal town of Hoquium. I don't recollect ever reading Hoquium native Kurt Cobain.

I can think of more examples of well known people living in the Seattle zone than I can think of here in Texas, suffice to say I don't ever recollect reading about any of them where the local papers repeatedly refer to people as being a native of this that or the other place. Let alone the fact of them being from this that or the other place giving that place some sort of bragging rights. Or being something to boast about. That just seems like bad manners. Maybe the Northwest is just a zone with better manners. And a lot of serial killers. But that's another day's blogging.


rphilpot said...

I don't consider it boasting or bragging, and if you'll Google any American Idol contestant, you'll find mentions of them in their hometown papers. Interesting that you should bring up Seattle, which plopped several contestants -- including the much-maligned Sanjaya Malakar, who was from Federal Way -- into the previous season of 'Idol.'

It is true that we often, although not always, refer to Bill Paxton's Fort Worth roots and Kelly's Burleson roots (and, if you were honest in your post, you'd note that we actually poked fun at ourselves at doing so in the 'Idol' article. I don't consider this bragging so much as giving readers a local connection to identify with.

This has become much more important in the current newspaper atmosphere. As the lead TV writer for the Star-Telegram, I'm writing about a genre that many newspapers, including our rival to the East, don't consider "local." But when you're writing for a Fort Worth audience, and Fort Worth and Dallas and other North Texas cities place actors on series and contestants on reality series, it IS local. Boasting has nothing to do with it.

Robert Philpot
Entertainment writer
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Durango said...

I read the article about the Texas Idol contestants. Don't quite know what you could possibly mean saying if I were honest in the post I'd make note that you actually poked fun at yourselves, because that flew right over my head, that there was fun being poked at. The article's headline had the word 'boast' in it. Boast. Brag. Same thing. You actually think that telling your readers that someone from Oregon who spent a short time in Texas somehow gives your readers a local connection to identify with? Regarding hometown papers mentioning locals being on the show, that is not the same thing as over and over again using verbiage like 'Fort Worth native X'. I mean, the P-I did not over and over again say Seattle native Blake Lewis. Or that Seattle had bragging rights because Seattle native Blake Lewis was the runner-up on American Idol. At least the Star-Telegram has not used the 'green with envy' cringe inducing verbiage for awhile. I guess that type reporting also gives the locals a connection to identify with.

rphilpot said...

"we've written 'Burleson's Kelly Clarkson' so many times that it's beginning to seem like Burleson is Kelly's new first name."

Sounds self-mocking to me.

Google "Federal Way's Sanjaya Malakar." The Seattle papers may not do it as often as we do, but they do it.


Durango said...

I Googled 'Federal Way's Sanjaya Malakar' as per your suggestion. The first newspaper reference came up on the third page of links. And that was to an article in the P-I. Of course the article mentioned that Sanjaya lived in Federal Way and that a couple hundred fans had turned out to see him. No where in the article did it say "Federal Way native Sanjaya Malakar". Like I already said, I don't recollect ever reading the Star-Telegram type hometown/native verbiage in the papers I read in Washington. I've never read Federal Way's paper. It is a small suburb of Seattle. I'm pretty sure their smalltown newspaper did not have any articles that said that Federal Way now had bragging rights that made other towns green with envy because Sanjaya was an inhabitant of their town. I don't ever recollect ever reading that anything in Seattle, or Federal Way for that matter, made other towns, far and wide, green with envy. Ironically, there is a lot in Seattle that someone from some other place might be envious of. Like, I dunno, a public market that actually is a successful public market and not something falsely hyped by an irresponsible newspaper as being modeled after successful public markets elsewhere. And don't get me started on how the Star-Telegram hyped Cabela's. Maybe I'll blog about that tomorrow, Fort Worth and Cabela's. And the new Cabela's by Olympia in Washington. In Washington Cabela's did not run their 'it's gonna be the biggest tourist attraction in the state' con that worked in Fort Worth to get all sorts of tax breaks. And in all the time since Cabela's opened there has not been a single Star-Telegram article regarding if it did become the biggest tourist attraction in the state. There may have been a small article on the business page about Cabela's layoffs and having to pay the city back due to not meeting their promised employment and tax generation. But no article examining how Fort Worth was conned. Or that soon after another Cabela's opened in Texas. By Austin. I wonder if they used the Biggest Tourist Attraction selling point in Austin. Likely not.