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Don't Cry for West Virginia, West Virginia

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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Following a Hollywood casting call asking for actors with an "other-worldly look ... an albino or something along those lines," or, more simply, someone from a "West Virginia holler," Mountain State Governor Joe Manchin and a slew of the state's government-types are taking the film industry to task for what it sees as a long-standing stereotype. But why so self-conscious, West Virginia? When Hollywood comes knocking for your fair residents, does it matter if it's looking for unusual body shapes, abnormal facial features, and physical deformities?

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One mine-worker union official asked: "Why must it be automatically assumed by the surgically enhanced 'beautiful people' who populate Hollywood that those who live in the hills and hollows of places like West Virginia are all afflicted with physical abnormalities?" Well, must is probably the wrong word. Senator Robert Byrd added: "Unfortunately, some in the filmmaking industry have decided that perpetuating stereotypes and insulting generations of West Virginians means cash at the box office." Unfortunately, or fortunately? Surely sunken-faced anemics, and the wages they earn, can be found in California and ... well, not California. And definitely not New York or Connecticut or Hawaii. But certainly in Kentucky or Alabama, right? Right?

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