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Southern Cultures 9.1 (2003) 1-3

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Britney's Ghost
More Fallout from Our Most Controversial Cover


It turns out that it would have been easier to quit the Mafia. We're referring to our attempt to place a little time and distance between our current work and the now-infamous Winter 2002 cover photo of a bare-bellied Britney Spears. Not that we mind entirely, of course. But since the pop diva's navel graced our pages—over a year ago—we've published essays and articles about re-fighting the Civil War, the songs of the South, Jackie Robinson's breakthrough into baseball, southern religions, the Confederate Flag controversy, the Neshoba County Fair, Robert E. Lee's inner battles, the Father of the Blues and the search for his soul, the investigation into a missing ghost ship's crew, the dying art of deer-driving, and many, many other topics. And what do our readers have to say about all this? Well, not nearly as much as they have to say about Britney. If she's on your minds, though, she's on ours, too.

Of course, occasionally we do receive other types of complaints. Leonard Wilson, for instance, takes us to task for the tenor of our special Biography issue, and Michael Sabota objects to us on general grounds and even declares us guilty by affiliation. We begin and end, though, with two letters from Alma M. Womack. The first is a saucy rant about you-know-who, that cover, and our proper place (which, it turns out, is not in the music business). Then, in the last of this issue's letters, Ms. Womack follows up on her earlier correspondence—and, it seems, she even forgives us. [End Page 1]

I was all set to order two gift subscriptions for Christmas presents for a couple of my friends. They had been assured that Southern Cultures was a worthwhile read, considering that most of your contributors are too liberal to get along with regular people. Then I got the issue with Britney Spears on the cover. I could not, in good conscience, order a publication for my friends with a half nekkid kid on the front, and tell them that, hey, this is a literary magazine.

I figured I'd better wait awhile to see if y'all would settle down and get back to doing what you do best: aggravating people, but not insulting them. The current issue is much better, and I hope that your foray into the pop world is over. Rolling Stone can handle Britney better than you.

By the way, Britney Spears and her pageant mother just lived in Louisiana for a while. They no more represent our state than they do North Carolina, and they for darn sure don't represent southern girls and women.

Keep the aggravation flowing.

Alma M. Womack
Jonesville, Louisiana

Your Fall 2002 Biography issue defies a nomenclature like Southern Cultures. In this issue your Yankee writers denigrate great southerners like Robert E. Lee and Ben Tillman, while glorifying a criminal like Robert Williams. It is my suggestion that you find some qualified southern writers who can expound on topics relating to southern culture—instead of politically correct Yankees who are still trying to rewrite history.

More Lea Barton type articles ("Paradox in Paradise") would enhance your mission.

Leonard Wilson
Townley, Alabama [End Page 2]

I am canceling my subscription for two reasons. First, as a white southern male I am offended by some of the articles that you have published. The other reason is your university's efforts to make incoming freshmen read excerpts from The Koran. It is sad that a southern institution has lost touch with what it means to be southern and American. I want a refund as I do not want one cent of my money to support your "university" in any way. I hope real southerners and Americans boycott your school. You are an embarrassment to your state and the South in general. Goodbye.

Michael Sabota
(via email...


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