POET: Ollie Schminkey and Wyatt Fleckenstein
PIECE: Small Towns
TOPICS DISCUSSED:
Religion
SUMMARY:This poem shows how people in religious people can often be more judgmental based off of their faith than loving – which is arguably a more important value in that same faith..

Key Lines/Phrases

Key Line/Phrase
Discussion

“I was not raised to love everything that was the same
I was raised to hate everything different”

“Small Towns” shows how religious people can often be more closed minded about things that they think go against their faith, and will therefore treat that thing differently. This piece religion as a system of meaning, belonging, and beliefs and the consequences for those who’s appearance, behaviors, and identity does not conform.

In-depth Analysis

The poem I chose for this assignment is called “Small Towns”, it was written and performed by Ollie Schminkey and Wyatt Fleckenstein. It shows how religious people can often be more closed minded about things that they think go against their faith, and will therefore treat that thing differently.

From the religious people’s perspectives, it would seem that Ollie and Wyatt have broken a part of the meaning system, by not being straight, so therefore they’re not allowed to be part of the belonging system anymore, no matter how much they go to church, or still try to belong to the group. I believe rational choice theory can be applied here, the churchgoers are weighing their costs and rewards of being nice to them, they can either be nice, and possibly end up going to hell, or be judged by the rest of their group, or they can be mean to them and have the support of their group, and not have to worry about whether or not they belong. I believe the girls are using rational choice theory as well, they can either be themselves and be judged, or they can pretend to be something that they’re not. They choose to be themselves regardless of the consequences they face. This is a reminder that in using rationality, and now the phrase common sense, can be different based on one’s social location.

Being gay is frowned upon in many religions, in a study done by Pew Research Center for the People and the Press RSS, they found that 43% of religions said there is conflict between their religious beliefs and homosexuality. While it has gone down over the years, by a lot I must say, in 1985, 89% of Americans said they would be upset if they had a gay child. In 2015, 39% said the same thing, while that is a massive decrease; it’s still much too high. Your parents are your first introduction to the world of religion. In the poem one of the girls says that her mother is a pastor, so she was clearly raised in a very religious family, and her community seems to be very religious as well. However, not once did she say her mother had a problem with her being gay, which shows that sometimes the people in power in a religion have more open beliefs than the people who attend worship, but usually won’t say anything “for fear of offending their parishioners” is the Pew Research study also reveals.

Karl Marx makes an excellent point by saying “religion perpetuates the prevailing power structure” (Ballentine et al. 2007). In this regard we might consider how churchgoers in this story reflect the values of the bourgeoisie. They all come together to hold this other part of their community down because they think that their way is the better way and that they deserve God’s love but these other people do not. Convincing these people to change their ideas would be difficult since 40% of people believe being gay is a lifestyle choice, and 57% believe that homosexuality can be changed as reported in that same study.

I chose this poem because it really hit close to home for me, I’m from a very small town, and most of the people are religious, racist, judgmental people that can be all around difficult to deal with. When I was in high school one of my best friends started transitioning, and she took a lot of hate for it, people at school would be mean, people would look at her weird in grocery stores, she got so stressed about it she wouldn’t leave her house unless she looked 100%, which meant taking 2-3 hours to get ready. By the end of junior year when she started to look a lot more feminine, the school actually told her that she couldn’t come back for senior year because they feared for her safety. So she missed out on prom and everything else that goes with senior year just because she tried to be herself in a small-minded small town. Like my experience, this poem shows how people in religious people can often be more judgmental based off of their faith than loving – which is arguably a more important value in that same faith. (Danielle Glasgow)

Artist Comments

This space is reserved for any comments the author of the piece may have about the points he was trying to get across and the background of why he wrote the poem.