It is amazing to me that any media person can stereotype millions of Americans without being worried about their career being at stake.
In today’s politically correct world, why is it acceptable to use such a derogatory term as “trailer park trash“?
Newscasters and journalists are losing their careers over the use of every other insulting slang term — however minor — simply from special interest groups threatening to boycott the advertisers. So why is “trailer trash” the one insulting term in the U.S. that you can use without any fear of reprisal? Is it because the average American feels it’s true, thanks to the consistent negative portrayal of the industry in the media?
Not too long ago, the reverse was true. “The Long, Long Trailer” starring Lucille Ball was a big film in 1953. Elvis lived in a “trailer park” in the films “It Happened at the World’s Fair” in 1963 and “Speedway” in 1968. Back then, the media portrayed “trailer park trash” as wearing tuxedos and driving sports cars — a 180 degree difference.
So why did they change their tune?
I think that education is the solution. Those in the industry know that there are some terrible properties out there, but they are a tiny fringe group of the 44,000 communities in the U.S. The average manufactured home community resembles a traditional subdivision — sometimes nicer than the surrounding subdivisions. We can only change the “trailer park trash” stereotype by convincing the general public that the term is unfair and offensive and not a statement of fact. That would generate a grassroots movement to protest the term aggressively and that, in turn, would scare the media away from ever using it again. If any journalist who uttered the phrase “trailer park trash” immediately lost their job, then it would disappear overnight.
So how do you educate the public about what our residents are really like? One method would be to fire off a barrage of articles — backed up by facts — on why the term has no place in a modern America; tied, via Google, to every article in which the negative terms are used.
Another would be to talk openly and honestly to the media and let them walk properties and talk to residents and break down their perceptions.
Finally — and this would be very expensive — to do a proactive public relations campaign that is clever and effective.
Am I offended by the term “trailer park trash” in the media recently? Certainly. I’m also disappointed and amazed. But I think it also serves as a wake-up call that our industry has a huge amount of work to do. When these negative terms disappear forever, then we will have done our job and elevated the industry to the next level. ##
RV Horizons and Mobile Home University
(Editor’s Note 1: Rolfe’s comments are made with respect to a tweet by Keith Olbermann, published in an article on Washington, D.C.’s ‘The Hill,” see link here, or at the top, above.
Note 2: MHProNews contacted several top people at the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), as well as their media contact, to give them an opportunity to share a comment or respond. As of this time, more than 48 hours later, they have not done so.)