Does True Detective Exploit Louisiana's Poor?


I haven’t watched True Detective yet (so thanks for giving me this assignment with SPOILERS IN IT, JESSICA), but pretty much everyone I know is obsessed with it, so I read today’s socioeconomic critique of it over at Salon with interest. (Again, spoiler alert. Hmph.)

Becky Banks argues that True Detective exploits the abject poverty of Louisiana—and the American public’s eagerness to read the symptoms of that poverty as almost romantically macabre—as a rather cheap atmospheric device.

Here’s Banks on what she calls the show’s “Duck Dynasty problem”:

Of course, these are poor people, very poor people. That seems to be the landscape of Lake Charles. Desolate, seething with factory smog, somewhat remote, down on its luck forever. It’s a place where family ties go askew, and the sex does, too. Or at least that’s what Pizzolatto would have the rest of country believe, the majority of whom will know the place only from this show.
It’s rare to see negative portrayals of large cities on television or in the movies. It’s because these locations have the money and therefore the power to portray themselves and their inhabitants well. When it comes to the representation of small towns and rural America, they are at the mercy of the people who reside in these big cities, who often have left these landscapes behind them or never really knew them in the first place.
It’s the responsibility of these outsiders to show respect to places and people they portray. Unfortunately, for Louisiana’s heel, it might be a long time before it emerges from the impact “True Detective” has made.

The only thing I know about True Detective (other than WHO THE SECRET VILLAIN IS, JESSICA) is that True Detective fans loooooooove to talk about True Detective.

So what do you guys think? Is Banks correct? Is True Detective cavalier with the already vulnerable community in which it lays its scene? Is my future True Detective experience ruined? Discuss below!

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