News, Jazz, NPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Politics / Issues

Humidity, Insects and Strip Clubs: Tampa Stereotypes Continue to Make Headlines During RNC

Most Floridians are used to the heat and humidity. But this week, about 50,000 extra people are in Tampa, and some of them aren't used to the climate.

Blogger Brian Crowley overheard a comment in the downtown Tampa Hyatt, where the Wisconsin delegation is staying.

"Now I believe there is a Republican war on women. Look what this place does to my hair."

He continues to write that 'Tampa has turned into an armed camp' quoting from a tweet:

"When I lived in Iran under martial law...security was not as bad as it is at the GOP convention!!!"

By many accounts, Tampa still seems to be getting a bad rap in the convention coverage.  Googling the terms "Tampa RNC Strip Clubs" displays over 6,000 news stories.

All this provides the perfect fodder for satirical shows like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  Stewart's show is broadcasting live from Tampa's Straz Performing Arts Center.

As the epic music plays in the background like an opening segment for a war movie, Jon Stewart's August 28th show takes more than a few jabs at the City of Tampa.

 "...A city too humid to breathe...from Tampa, Fla., this is the Republican National Convention...."

His team of correspondents, you remember, the ones who called Tampa "horrible" and "hot" during their RNC training camp, get right down to business bashing Tampa.

"Tropical Storm Isaac has passed, returning this city to its normal atmospheric conditions, somewhere between a friar's club steam room and a subway platform in Haiti."

Harsh, but it's not over just yet.

"This is the land that time forgot. This is the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., at the end of August. There is no place you'd rather be, particularly if you're an insect from an Indiana Jones film, or a struggling strand of streptococcus."

Days after other news outlets wondered why the RNC is in Tampa during peak hurricane season -- correspondent John Oliver provides an answer:

"Tampa is a perfect symbol of what Obama has done to America."

Interesting, considering the Salon.com article, the one that called Tampa America's hottest mess, said Tampa is actually a better example of where "Tea Party politics will lead cities."

Back to The Daily Show:

"'Not every single person that lives in Tampa manufactures and distributes Methamphetamines.'

'Obviously not, Jon, some of them have to buy it.'"

The rest of the segment pokes fun at another media stereotype about Tampa: strip clubs:

"I'm here in Tampa's famous strip club district--or as they call it here--Tampa..."

That segment is followed by another correspondent reporting while embraced by flying 10-foot cockroach.

"The locals have assured me is a juvenile palmetto bug."

"America Strikes Back" is The Colbert Report’s Star Wars parody of the RNC.
 
The music is familiar, but the message is new.

 "It is a dark time for America...Dark Lord Obama has summoned a hurricane to scatter the Patriotic Alliance...But all is not lost. A group of freedom fighters led by Mitt Romney...have established a new secret base in the remote, humid city of Tampa."

Comedy Central is no CNN or BBC, and Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert aren't reporters, but their shows are satirical twists on real news stories. The fact is that reporters in Tampa don’t seem to be spreading out to gather more news beyond the stereotypes of this city.

Jeff Jarvis, a professor at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, asks in his piece on the Huffington Post, "Reporters, Why Are You in Tampa?"

His explanation for the stereotypical coverage of Tampa:

"You end up in Tampa, you find a floor where nothing is happening, everything that's happening is already on TV. So you venture out into the town to try to find some stories. But you do that as someone who doesn't really know the town. So what are you going to go for? The obvious angles.Tampa--strip clubs."

And that's What They're Saying.