• PineKnot

    One of the reasons that children from small towns grow up being respectful is that nearly everyone in town knows everyone else, either personally or through a friend.
    No parent wants to be known as ‘the one whose kids are out of control, and disrespectful’. Consciously or unconsciously, children are taught that certain behavior is not allowable.
    I have also noticed that people in small towns are more respectful toward others than people in large cities. Lack on anonymity breeds manners. Children pick up on this also.
    Cities stress people much more than smaller environments. Wherever you go in a city, you are surrounded by strangers, and in many of those environments, an edgy attitude is necessary for survival.
    In a small town, everyone pretty much knows everyone else, so you don’t feel threatened, so don’t project hostility, disrespect, or violence.

  • http://paragraphfarmer.blogspot.com/ Patrick O’Hannigan

    I liked the essay. Two movies that aren’t on your list fit different parts of your thesis: “Tremors” (1990) is a humorous monster movie where the people of a small town in the California desert band together to stop giant, fast-moving, carnivorous worms– and it’s actually better than it sounds, in part because it’s perfectly cast, with Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Finn Carter, and Reba McEntire.

    “Bad Day at Black Rock” (1955) features a small town shaken by the arrival of a one-armed stranger (Spencer Tracy). The town doesn’t come off real well– this may have been part of the inspairation for “American Beauty.”

  • http://arosebyname.blogspot.com Anna

    Where we live we are in between the worlds. Too large to be a town, but small enough to still have a lot of the smaller town values. Compared to the big city we used to live in, it is heaven!

  • jaleach

    Small towns are also “won’t die in a WMD terrorist attack” kind of towns. I feel real sorry for anyone left in New York, Washington, D.C., L.A., or any other good sized metropolis. Your days are likely numbered if you don’t get a move on. And, from a few articles I’ve seen on the Internet (sorry, don’t have links), plenty of people are leaving the cities for smaller places.

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    I grew up in a town of 10,000 — my grandpa had been its doctor for a decade before I was born. Knowing this played a part in my decisions about what to do as an adolescent because I *knew* I was not anonymous…..when the supermarket produce guy comes up and says “Dr. G., how are you? Just wanted to say that you delivered me…..thanks.”, you just know you better walk the line. Not everyone had my Papa, but virtually no one was unknown. My own kids grew up in a college town (unincorporated, yet) of 5,000 and told me on more than one occasion that it just wasn’t fair — you “couldn’t get away with *anything* here”. It was true – I spoke to other people’s kids all the time. Mostly to greet and pass a few words, but occasionally to make it plain that what they were doing was crossing the line. Some see “oppression” in this, but it’s a method of social control that works FAR better (meaning that it actually works) than command and control.

  • Stephen

    There’s another great little ‘small town’ movie you may like: “Doc Hollywood.” The scenes of a small-town festival and the gently-boosterish mayor are bang-on.