A throw down with Morast!

I think I need to initiate a throw down with Forum writer Robert Morast.  In his opinion piece published on Inforum he said, “Gwen Sebastian’s turn on “The Voice” this past Monday reminded me of everything that’s wrong with North Dakotans.”

Say what??!!  Everything that’s wrong with North Dakotans?  EVERYTHING?  That was quite the statement.

Morast went on to say that he wasn’t hating on Gwen.  His primary complaint was that he thinks the “yah, sure, ya betcha” that Gwen laid out on The Voice as a North Dakota native served to demean North Dakotans by painting us as “simple, folksy people who exist in a place detached from the cultural flow of America.”  According to Morast, “The rest of the nation already thinks that. We don’t need to reinforce the untruth.”

So it wasn’t really EVERYTHING that is wrong with North Dakotans that was stuck in Morast’s craw as he first laid out – it’s the repeating by a North Dakota native of the Coen brothers’ capture of small town North Dakota lingo that caused the chafing of his posterior.

Wow…that is attaching an awful lot of potency to Gwen’s utterance of “yah, sure, ya betcha!”  By Morast’s representation we are led to conclude that one little phrase has accomplished widespread slander of all things North Dakotan.  The phrase apparently reinforced for all television viewers far and wide the belief that we are a state filled with “simple, folksy people” who are “detached from the cultural flow of America.”  Yet, we watch The Voice – which I should note would be the first point of argument put forth to anyone who actually believed in the misnomer that North Dakota is culturally detached.

Yeah…sorry Morast, I am not buying your doom and gloom message. I think you have attributed far too much power to a simple phrase in a movie.  North Dakota is defined by the heart of its people and its down to earth personality – it isn’t a California or a Florida or a Texas (thank goodness) – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hip or cool to live here.  I might suggest that North Dakota redefines hip and cool by its own standards.  Take the state’s identity on other fronts such as economic health, quality of life, cutting-edge innovation, commitment to education, notable weather, community commaraderie, reigning college football champion in the FCS, etc. - North Dakota defines itself at every turn as a state filled with all the right things necessary to be deemed a great place to live.

I am a transplant to North Dakota.  I have only been here 14 1/2 years (give me a few more decades and I might start to be considered a real North Dakotan).  I knew the first time I visited the state that it was one of the greatest states in the nation.  I concluded that in short order based on two things: the people and the beauty of the state.

But you don’t need to listen to me about how easy it is for others to see what a great place North Dakota is…the secret is out Morast.  North Dakota has got it going on.  I know it, you know it, Gwen Sebastian knows it – damn, who doesn’t know it?  But North Dakota is a modest state that embraces its easygoing nature, so its citizens when out and about in the world do tend to downplay the potency of the state’s profile.  That quiet, unassuming, unruffled nature – the one that is evidenced in “yah, sure, ya betcha” – is who we are to some extent and I think it is lovely – dontcha know.

So take it down a notch Morast and spend time worrying about things that are really likely to give folks the wrong impression of our state (like sexed-up tourism ads)…or better yet, start a Gwen Sebastian fan club with some of that spare time you have.  You can have hats and shirts made that say:

Can Gwen Sebastian from Hebron, North Dakota win The Voice?
Yah, sure, you betcha! ;-)

Day nine hundred and forty-nine of the new forty – obla di obla da

Ms. C

Avatar of Ms. C

About Ms. C

I teach at NDSU...but I remain a student of life with all the enthusiasm that entails. My favorite saying is, "Sometimes you have to take the leap and build your wings on the way down." In the new forty that is what I am doing...building my wings.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to A throw down with Morast!

  1. Barbara says:

    You did it, girl! Oofda, my Minnesota Nice has been feeling nasty ever since I read Morast’s column. Now I can rest easy and smile again! For the past 52 years I have travelled through North Dakota on my way to Montana and have been at a loss for words to explain why I love the place. YES! It does define hip and cool and honorable BY..ITS..OWN..STANDARDS! To me, North Dakota feels….timeless. My brother follows that same trail from Illinois to Montana and he says that it takes forever to cross ND because you have to make so many coffee stops. How else can one eavesdrop on the conversations of working people in every small town café along the way? He says it helps him believe in people again. I think Mr. Morast needs to do less sputtering and more listening.

  2. Monica J Stich says:

    I was so derned burnt up when I read Morast’s nonsense. I was so darn PROUD of Sebastian when she said those closing words. She spoke for all of us up here in the North Country. Just those few words and she brought us all along with her. I think Aghast Morast should simmer down, have some good ole’ church coffee (made with a raw egg in its grounds), come over for some hotdish (I’ll bring the red jello with the bananas in it) and open his eyes to the wonderful culture that we have here. Sebastian was proud of her heritage and she represented ND in the most honorific way… speaking our language. Now quitcher bellyachin’. Criminey.

  3. Gail says:

    I think Gwen was RIGHT to add the little blurb, “yeah, ya betcha,” onto her intro. It set her apart from all the rest of the contestants out there. It’s not like she came out wearing bib overalls and a seed cap. She looked good! Go, Gwen!

  4. A well developed spawn says:

    Its a state that you can come to as a guest and leave as a legend.There’s no place better!

  5. Kevin says:

    Well never read the story, and it really dont matter, as I “work for a farmer” I realize how I am looked upon. Dont matter to me, I know the truth. We had this discussion at work the other morning. “if you work for a farmer it is nothing good on your resume, however, it will get you further in life then you will ever thought you could have gotten. It will teach you so many varieties of things, that you can not even imagine, but, if you put it on your resume, you will be looked at, as ‘oh you worked for a farmer’ meaning nothing.” My response. just my opinion.
    Guess I can be just as guilty, when I talk to other people in other parts of the world, yes Carol I am also a transplant from SD, not much different, but its so much fun to tell them that we still use a cup and string to talk on the phone, and when I tell people that I was the first in the area to get internet just a year ago, it gets lots of ahs and ouhs….but if you explain to them how we get water from the river like the romans did, building stone water pipes, they actually start to listen. Ya know we no got what is the word, I think electricity…..is that where power runs to our houses so we can have power to run things, like this computer to make this response. If I ever loose their attention, I just tell them to get the movie fargo to understand what life is like in the dakotas………its fun to me………………

  6. Melanie says:

    Really? I think what she said was embarassing. I agree 100% with Morast.

  7. Lynn says:

    Well never read the story, and it really dont maettr, as I work for a farmer I realize how I am looked upon. Dont maettr to me, I know the truth. We had this discussion at work the other morning. if you work for a farmer it is nothing good on your resume, however, it will get you further in life then you will ever thought you could have gotten. It will teach you so many varieties of things, that you can not even imagine, but, if you put it on your resume, you will be looked at, as oh you worked for a farmer’ meaning nothing. My response. just my opinion.Guess I can be just as guilty, when I talk to other people in other parts of the world, yes Carol I am also a transplant from SD, not much different, but its so much fun to tell them that we still use a cup and string to talk on the phone, and when I tell people that I was the first in the area to get internet just a year ago, it gets lots of ahs and ouhs .but if you explain to them how we get water from the river like the romans did, building stone water pipes, they actually start to listen. Ya know we no got what is the word, I think electricity ..is that where power runs to our houses so we can have power to run things, like this computer to make this response. If I ever loose their attention, I just tell them to get the movie fargo to understand what life is like in the dakotas its fun to me

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>