Sunday, January 3, 2010

Does Ozarks "art" require a meth dealer?

If you're going to write a book or make a movie about the Ozarks, make sure you've got a meth dealer in it.

I read somewhere that authentic Southern fiction must have a dead mule in it. Adding a dope dealer may be the way to differentiate a new genre of literature and film art, Ozarks fiction.

I'm talking about Winter's Bone, the book by Daniel Woodrell, of West Plains, and now a new movie that will be featured at the Sundance Film Festival. Woodrell describes his Ozarks fiction as "country noir."

Today, the Springfield News Leader tells us about the new film:

The movie is set in the Ozarks and follows Ree Dolly, a teenager determined to save her home. Ree's father, a meth dealer, puts his family's house up for bond and then jumps bail. Ree, who is raising her brothers and caring for her mother, has 30 days to find her father to keep her family from losing their land.

This film portrays a community that has an intense connection to the land, which is rare these days, says (the director Debra) Granik.

Ree is a strong heroine, too.

"I think Daniel Woodrell wrote a captivating American story with core classic ingredients people can't help but resonate with. Ree is a likable hero you can't help rooting for," Granik says.

The newspaper, as newspapers tend to do, is already predicting that the attention will fuel an economic recovery in the Ozarks:

If the film does well at Sundance, it could boost tourism in Missouri, help pique interest in filming in the Show-Me State and provide opportunities for local actors and musicians, say experts.

Well, we'll wait and see if a film about a worthless meth dealer and his poverty-stricken family will draw Califoreigners, Floridiots and New Mockers to the Ozarks to come and look at us hillbillies--and, most important, spend their money with us.

Reinforcing stereotypes those above-mentioned groups have about Southern Missourians might have the opposite effect and will scare them away.

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