Kirn, author of several books including “Up in the Air” which was made into an award-winning film starring George Clooney, told host Tucker Carlson that his job has taken him tens of thousands of miles around the country – and that in doing so, he is seeing the people in Middle America stay relatively the same as the elites and urbanites instead change their view of their fellow countrymen.
“I look at myself as a foreign correspondent in the United States. I pretend that this is a country that I don’t know and I try to get to know it as though I landed here from Mars. Luckily, I know the language already,” he said.
“But I see it as a novelist’s job to cut across boundaries, get to know people of all classes, all backgrounds, all professions. And I also am a person who likes to drive, so I spend about 30,000 miles per year … just knocking around, talking to whoever will talk to me.”
Kirn, who has done just that for 35 or so years, said the country has indeed changed:
“The United States is a place that, even though it appears homogeneous in the media, has a lot of pockets and a lot of differences in it — regional accents and ways and food stuffs and so on, have gotten a little bit homogeneous due to the sort of corporatization of everyday life,” he said.
“But still, when you get on the ground and you go from Utah to Alabama, say, you experience maybe 30 different little countries.”
“Those places, I think, have– as this COVID thing has hit– become almost invisible to us. We’re not traveling as much as we used to. We’re not driving around. We’re not talking to strangers. We’re hearing a lot in the news about, oh, the unvaccinated, or the Trump voter, or the redneck– the people who actually live underneath the airline routes. And they’re being blamed for a lot. They’re being accused of sort of not supporting all sorts of national and governmental edicts.”
With that change in national sentiment, Kirn said the folks in Middle America therefore do feel “victimized by the culture at large” and somewhat silenced by coastal geopolitical prominence
“So if you ask how the country’s changed, it’s not so much that the actuality of people’s lives has changed. It’s that our view of their plight has gotten very simplistic and hostile, I think,” he said.
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