Are Minnesotans too uncritical about things Minnesotan?

A recent op-ed piece in the Star Tribune sparked a controversy on the Web over the local music scene and the pride Minnesotans take in it. Today’s Question: Are Minnesotans too uncritical about things Minnesotan?

  • Kurt

    Yes. And what really drives people who are not native to Minesota nuts (and many who are) is the obsession with “the Minnesota connection” in news stories, whereby they scare up the third cousin of the wive’s brother of the person in the earthquake in Turkey because “that” person is from Minnesota and without it there is no story.

  • Tom

    Minnesotans are very over prideful, and yes this does make us uncritical of things Minnesotan. Other artists like Atmosphere have also brought up the fact that MN has a overflow of musicians and some should be given harsher criticism towards there work. Harsh criticism is indeed important for any musician if they choose to move forward with what they do.

    None of this is mentioned in the article in the Strib though, and the points Buchholz writes about are terrible arguyments to make. A band name is important, but not the main point when arguing about this.

    The mention of Gay Witch Abortion’s name being bad, it makes me think she has never heard the band play. I’d say it is perfect for them. Music is hardly ever clean.

    The overdone introduction with M. Wheat is unneeded too, it’s just not a well written article.

  • Giganto Machia

    As a newbie to MN I have to say, uh, yes. And it extends well beyond music. MN might be the most passive-aggressive state I have ever lived in; and I have lived in a few. As a philosopher instructor this makes getting students to “think critically” quite difficult. Not because the students are not intelligent, but rather, because they have been raised with the “if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing”. Making MN one of the quietest states I have ever lived in as well. On that note, GET OUT OF THE FAST LANE YOU SLOW DRIVING $%*%*#$#O#!!

  • Jim G

    My wife is very critical of me, a native Minnesotan, with specific regional frailties. Oh yeah, but she’s a native Californian. She’s been here almost twenty years and it hasn’t quite sunken in yet.

  • Katie

    As a transplant Minnesotan and student at the University of Minnesota, I have found myself increasingly frustrated over the years. Along similar lines of what Giganto Machia is saying, I feel like I have to be VERY careful in classes regarding what I say when a professor asks us to think critically about a controversial issue. Minnesota is over sensitive. The classroom is a place to be open and honest, and share thoughts and ideas with classmates (within reason, of course). To feel afraid to say something in the classroom in fear of disapproval from other classmates and yes, even the professor, inhibits learning severely. Minnesota is a proud state. It has reason to be proud, it’s a wonderful place to live, but there is a time when this pride becomes too much. Minnesota is over-proud.

  • James

    No, we are not “too uncritical.” But we are relatively uncritical, which is probably fine. Why not have a soft spot in our hearts for local talent, businesses and institutions? Most of them will get rough treatment from the market or the national press if they deserve it; why not give them a little love at home?

  • Steve the Cynic

    It’s not that Minnesotans are too prideful, but that many are too insecure, which is why they love hearing about local connections and react badly to criticism. In the music scene in particular, I think some of the enthusiasm over local bands is due to leftover resentment about Bob Dylan denying his roots here in his early career. Texans, Californians, and New Yorkers are prideful, which is why they express no surprise when “local” folks make good.

    Also, it appears some folks are taking the referenced op-ed piece too seriously. It was filled with rhetorical overstatement, which, if you’ve been raised on the dictum, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” can be hard to detect.

  • Steve the Cynic

    And being too uncritical of local businesses is not unique to Minnesota. Every locality does it. For Minnesota, it means we’re unwilling to see that the medical device industry is every bit as inimical to a rational health care system as Big Pharma is, and for exactly the same reasons.

  • annie

    I’m really pretty amused at the mileage this topic has had. As it relates to music, I see nothing wrong with taking pride in what is a broad, diverse and talented local scene. I usually listen to the Local Current stream for the great variety and don’t know that I’ve heard anyone that didn’t deserve the airplay. On the other hand, I’ve seen plenty of fair, honest, sometimes harsh reviews of local music by local critics, so I don’t think there’s a lack of criticism. We have an excellent local music scene – why not celebrate it? Whether it’s above average compared to other cities is kind of subjective and to me, not that important. Everyone should really chill out a bit…maybe by venturing out for some live music…

  • EAL

    What makes Minnesota unique from most every other state is that in general, a good balance of working institutions (e.g., education, government and business). So much so that Minnesotans are far too “Minnesota Nice” (e.g., arrogent, closed minded and blinded) to outside influence and perspectives. For example. Minnesotans rave about the University of Minnesota as an institution of hire learning. Many rankings have the “U” overall generally in about the 20th position. Yet where do many individuals and organizations go for expertise…the “U.” Thus expertise is limited to a single mindset. Take music. Despite what many would have believe, contemporary music in the state when one looks at the popular stations, the music is pretty generic/vanilla. In closing, look at what makes the people of Minnesota, Minnesotans…”Minnesota Nice.” Which is to say, we just don’t want open, straight forward dialog. Best not to offend…anyone.

  • Giganto Machia

    This is an interesting topic. I agree with annie that the music scene here is pretty good, at least in terms of other places I have lived. That said, she also embodies what I find interesting in terms of the almost natural desire to avoid conflict that one seems to continually encounter in MN. Which is why steve’s comment struck me with the idea that perhaps people are insecure. It would seem that debate, argumentation, etc. demand a bit of confidence, and that a lack of confidence would make just “getting along” the goal rather than any point that may be had within the discourse itself. Or something like that. Makes sense, though it begs the question of why? But isn’t that Keillor’s job?

  • georges

    The University of Minnesota is an institution of “hire” learning?

    Are you sure about that?

    Is that where you got your “hire” learning?

    By the way:

    Keillor’s job is to continue pocketing free taxpayer money in spite of the fact that his show is a commercial success.

    The combination of evil Capitalist profits and free taxpayer cash payments has made keillor a very wealthy multi-millionaire one percenter Capitalist-Socialist.

  • Ann

    It is surprising that Minnesotans can take so much pride in losing sports teams that they are willing to spend endless amounts of money on stadiums.They also seem to think that pumping money into schools automatically makes them better. I went to a poor elementary school in Iowa that was much better than the wealthy school that I moved to in Minnesota.Minnesotans also seem to be complacent about the fact that so many of us have lost our jobs to other states.I think that there are a lot of people that don’t take pride in Prince or many other artists from the state. Fortunately there is a wide variety of national music available.

  • georges

    All of these derogatory definitions of “Minnesota Nice” being posted here indicated a need for the real meaning of the term to be put up.

    Minnesota Nice became a saying back in about the late 1960’s, when there was alot of news stories nationally showing people getting beaten or raped or killed in New York subways or wherever, and folks standing around not helping the victim.

    Minnesota Nice developed then, meaning that we here in Minnesota were not like that, indeed, we would help anyone in distress or being victimized at any time for any reason. We would not turn our backs and “not get involved.” Also, we would help anyone in need, the hungry, the homeless, etc. We would give them money or food or shelter as needed.

    This is part of our heritage. Tis what we do.

    The idea grew, and became a thing across the country, until everyone knew what Minnesota Nice was.

    The chronically poor came here because we have (had) a higher welfare payment system. Indeed, signs were put up on the doors and walls of State welfare offices in border towns in Texas and southern California that said variations of, “Go to Minnesota. They pay more.”

    Which hurt us, of course, as we were then financially supporting those who had no roots and no jobs and no prospects.

    But let us use the term as it was meant to be used. That we are a good, sharing, kind, giving people. It is in our genes.

  • DNA

    I plead the 1st and 5th.

  • Jim G

    One reason why Minnesotans are uncritical of things Minnesotan may be because of the comparative smallness of our communities here to those on the coasts. There just aren’t that many Minnesotans. People don’t want to burn their bridges: they will need to cross them again in the future. Also the small town “crazy uncle” phenomenon is in play here. In our smallish metropolitan area, one bad apple, or incident can spoil the reputation of whole an entire enterprise. Examples of this is the current Fairview/Accretive debacle and the failure in leadership ethics at Best Buy. Every family has at least one “crazy uncle.” So we refrain from pointing out the obvious, least we be judged in return.

  • Philip

    Amen and amen Kurt! The Minnesota Connection really drives me nuts in the local media. I don’t care about some dudes cousin’s sister’s brother of whatever the story is about simply because they’re from Minnesota! I also don’t care how much away from the average we are with the temperature in our local forecasts.

    There, now you have two critical comments about Minnesota. The list is very long (including drivers), but my mamma taught me to shut my mouth and get to work if I can’t say something nice about another. I guess that usually works for me.

  • annie

    “she also embodies what I find interesting in terms of the almost natural desire to avoid conflict that one seems to continually encounter in MN.”

    Giganto M., interesting that you concede that avoiding conflict is “almost” natural. But maybe that was a typo. Anyway, I’m not a big fan of conflict (like many people, here and elsewhere, I’d guess), but don’t mistake that for a lack of confidence, or avoidance of argument/debate. I’m all for debate and impassioned disagreement. The point I made (that I stand by) wasn’t motivated by insecurity or a desire to “just get along” – it’s my strong opinion. That’s all.

  • annie

    “Despite what many would have believe, contemporary music in the state when one looks at the popular stations, the music is pretty generic/vanilla.”

    Popular stations play the same music in every city in America. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the local music scene.

    (How’s that for not just “getting along”, Giganto?)

  • Steve the Cynic

    Minnesota isn’t the only state afflicted with this, btw. Every small-population state does the same thing, as do small municipalities overshadowed by metropolitan centers, as does the whole country of Canada.

  • inuit


    No one has ever heard a New Yorker boast pridefully about his Big Apple metro megopolis.

    And no one has ever witnessed a Los Angelista or San Franciscan act like they are better than everyone else on account of where they live.

    Or a Bostonian turn up his nose at anyone who fails to have the good sense to live in Boston.

    Or a Miamian act like their little slice of shoreline is the only cool place to lounge in.

    Or a Seattleite smarm around looking down on everyone else.