(Image of the Texas state flag courtesy of Texas State Archives and Library Commission)
Back in July Texas Monthly published an interview that touches upon some common misunderstandings of Texas. The fact that so many people misunderstand the Lone Star State and its residents isn't that surprising. Great people and things are frequently misunderstood.
Let's be honest. Many a Texan is rather amused at how others view them. In fact, they may play up the bravado and swagger for effect. Getting attention is sometimes fun.
This comes out in Christian Wallace's B.J. Novak interview. Novak is best known for his role as Ryan Howard from the US version of The Office. If the show had a villain, Howard certainly was in contention. As a comedic actor and filmmaker, he's always looking for a rich story to tell. He does so in his most recent film Vengeance, which stars him as well as serves as his film directorial debut.
With all this movie talk, don't forget to load up on some Buc-ee's snacks to enjoy as you enjoy a movie. Texas Snax is here to help all y'all if distance is an impediment for a quick snack bar run.
In Vengeance Novak plays Ben Manalowitz, who is a journalist from New York City who flies to west Texas to attend the funeral of a casual old flame after she died of unknown reasons. After Manalowitz hears some unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about her death, he decides to make a podcast about people clawing to explain things out of their control. Thus, one could argue that the movie is poking more fun at coastal elites who parachute into flyover country for their own amusement.
Although a dark comedy, this premise seems ripe territory for mocking west Texans, but that's not Novak's intent. As a west Texan himself, Wallace, vouches for Novak and his film's sincere appreciation for Texas, Texans, and their culture. Novak could've taken his New Yorker character anywhere, but he truly wanted a fish out of water story. So, he plopped the character in west Texas, which is way outside of Manalowitz's comfort zone.
Either way, Novak relates how he sees the lore of the Alamo as a story of vengeance that infuses the DNA of contemporary Lone Star pride. In order to prepare for making this movie, Novak enlisted Wallace and others to help him learn about the setting for his movie.
As Novak reflects upon these research trips, he aptly states, "I was completely blown away by this surprising paradox, which is that Texans are the most intimidating people from a distance. Close up, I have never been more welcomed as a stranger."
He gets it. Texans are a proud people who defend their beloved home. That sometimes comes across as bluster and bravado, but they're a friendly folk, too. As someone who hails from the Boston area, Novak better know what it is like for an area and its people to have "a reputation." LOL!
Either way, this film avoids the strong temptation of a mocking satire of a larger than life culture. Novak tells Wallace, "I don't do satire. I do comedy, which to me is as honest as drama, because a drama is inaccurate when there isn't comedy. To show only Texans' or Brooklynites' good-hearted natures isn't honest. I think it's important to show what’s funny about people as respectfully as what's serious about them."
Most Texans are very aware of the stereotypes that many other people carry of them, and -- in most cases -- they're strong enough to entertain that there's some truth -- both good and bad -- to those larger than life stereotypes. Besides, a confident person can laugh at themselves. Wallace argues that Novak strikes that balance in Vengeance. Y'all are welcome to judge for yourselves.
If all of this Texas movie talk makes all y'all's hearts swell with pride, Texas Snax is here to help. We're more than happy to send y'all some Buc-ee's favorites to help y'all express your Texan pride -- no matter what others think.