So a bunch of folks are upset because we were crowned Miss Mobile Home at a beauty contest Sunday night.
Why did we get so offended? Well, because that’s how we roll.
In case you missed this latest slander to our state’s good name, here’s the thing: Miss South Carolina, Brooke Mosteller of Mount Pleasant, introduced herself at the Miss America pageant this past weekend by saying, “I’m from the state where 20 percent of our homes are mobile, because that’s how we roll.”
Oh the shame. You can almost hear the new state motto percolating now: South Carolina — too small to be a state, too big to be a trailer park.
There’s no reason to be upset with Mosteller. Although she’s not talking, it’s a safe bet the show’s writers gave her that line. Do you really think Miss New Mexico came up with “I’m not breaking bad, I’m breaking through”?
Like everyone in Santa Fe is a meth head.
Folks can feign outrage because, well, that’s what we do nowadays. But do you know who’s not upset? The manufactured-housing industry.
Thanks for the plug
The phone has been ringing steadily this week at the Manufactured Housing Institute of South Carolina.
Mark Dillard, executive director of the lobbying and marketing group, says he’s used the attention as a chance to educate the folks. Basically, the message is: This isn’t 1975.
“These homes don’t roll, except from the factory to your land,” Dillard says.
Truth is, the industry loves Mosteller so much that she might end up with a marketing job. Already, one manufactured-housing business has put up “Thank you, Miss South Carolina” on its electronic reader board.
That’s because this gives these businesses the chance to tell people that manufactured houses are no longer oblong boxes. Today they have pitched roofs and have to comply with building codes the same as any other kind of housing. And most of them stay in the same place from the moment they’re delivered.
They can be indistinguishable from subdivision homes, yet they are subject to the same regulations. Probably more, since this is South Carolina.
And honestly, the pageant writers were wrong — only 17.9 percent of South Carolina homes are manufactured or mobile. Yes, that makes us tops in the nation. We are closely followed by New Mexico, Mississippi, Alabama and North Carolina.
Basically, Dillard says the manufactured-housing industry prospers in places where there are slight populations — the rural South, out West. And, of course, they say the industry suffers from an unfair stigma.
“Who’s smarter, or more financially savvy: a person who buys a house they can afford, or a person who gets in over their head by trying to buy a McMansion?” Dillard says.
Hits close to home
That is the real issue here, the reason this stereotype — which happens to be true — offends so many people.
Fact is, South Carolina is a state with a high poverty rate. And manufactured housing can cost up to 20 percent less than “stick-built” homes.
So what’s a poor beauty queen to do?
Folks just need to lighten up and take this in the spirit in which it was meant: A faux edgy joke for a most vanilla television show.
If they insist on being upset that South Carolina has been besmirched, how about directing that ire at someone other than a beauty pageant contestant?
A much better target would be the politicians who don’t care that we are on top of another list: the poverty list.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org.