Last week, my roommate wouldn’t stop talking about how “her movie” was premiering in theatres and how we had to go. So even though I’m no fan of cheesy Nicholas Sparks films, we went to go see her as an extra in The Longest Ride. Like Wake Forest University, my roommate’s screen time was minimal, but exiting.
While the film could’ve taken place anywhere in the South, Hollywood made a point to emphasize North Carolina, the Piedmont Triad, and Wake Forest. This deliberate exposure draws the public eye straight to our community. Meanwhile, the film paints a stereotypical picture of our region that neither condemns nor glorifies it.
The Longest Ride features several stereotypes that don’t hold true if you know Winston-Salem and Wake Forest like we do; Sorority houses don’t exist and Wake students don’t go line dancing on weekends- they go to preppy fraternity parties. These details wouldn’t matter if the film were set in any old town. On the contrary, the filmmakers capitalized on every chance to drop the name of their location. Signs reading “Winston-Salem,” “Greensboro,” “Wake Forest University,” “North Carolina,” and phone numbers with the 336 area code were all clearly pictured throughout the film. So while this Hollywood film sought to emphasize our neighborhood and culture, it merely restated stereotypes, making our special city blend in as a general Southern town.