By Morf Morford, Tacoma Daily Index
To put mildly, Tacoma has an image problem.
But at least, for some apparently, our reputation is inspiration.
To many, our reputation is firmly attached to the not-so-firmly built bridges.
To say that this veers undeniably and irreversibly into absurdity is too easy.
“Haters back off!” is a Tacoma-based tale set in Tacoma (but filmed, presumably for safety and economic reasons, outside of Vancouver, Canada – Coquitlam, to be exact).
And, even for those who have never been to our fair city, even the name carries something like panache.
In the Middle East and much of Africa
Did you know that the vehicle of choice for terrorists around the world is the Toyota Tacoma? Few cities have a vehicle named after them. But to be the choice of terrorists is surely an achievement few other cities could even begin to aspire to.
Could you imagine any vehicle, let alone a multipurpose truck (with a machine-gun across the top as one of many specialized options) like the Toyota Tacoma, but with a name like Burien? Or Misssoula? Or even Bellevue? Nope.
Even the word “Tacoma” as a brand name seems to personify terror, menace and recklessness around the world.
The Tacoma Method
Across Asia, the “Tacoma Method” still resonates in history and economic circles as the strategy Tacoma’s civic leaders took to harass, threaten, deport (and of course steal from) local Chinese residents from a once thriving Chinese community. We in the Pacific Northwest have probably never seen such a thorough practice of race-based ethnic-cleansing as we had in Tacoma barely over a hundred years ago.
Editors note: And no, the “Tacoma Method” is not a means of birth control, although mentioning one’s Tacoma roots to a potential King County date could certainly, in most cases, be the ultimate “buzz-kill” for even the most promising rendezvous.
On the (relatively) small screen
“Haters back off!” has, as its main character, a crude, delusional, thoroughly talentless (and charmless) “influencer” intoxicated by her own delusion of fame. Her family, equally clueless (if not even more) see her as their ticket to fame and fortune.
And presumably, their ticket out of Tacoma.
Virtually every character in the series is shallow, crude and, in a very Tacoma way, opportunistic with a side-order of buffoonery as many of us might recognize.
If you watch it, take note of various Tacoma-centric references. And consider what it would be like to have this family in your neighborhood. Or, even better, representing us to the world.
Cringeworthy “R” us
Accurately or not, this is how much of the world (even Netflix) sees Tacoma.
The main character, though without a shred of talent, charm or dignity, is, in theory at least, a profile of a young woman who puts the negativity of others behind her and strives to seek her unique, and in her eyes at least, inevitable triumph.
In terms of artists, Tacoma has more than its share of bands nurtured (and often exiled from) here. From The Sonics to the Ventures to Nirvana to Buck Owens, and Neko Case, Tacoma has had its share of bands and performers who have made their way through T-town.
And yes, Tacoma has made its way into a song.
To put it mildly, this is not a “Springtime in Paris” anthem to romance with a Parisian backdrop. Though maybe the world needs a song portraying love “Tacoma style”. You can check out a contribution from Tacoma’s own “premier horror rap artist” here.
I have not listened to it yet. I’ll have to get in the mood somehow, I guess…
Did we earn this?
Does Tacoma deserve such bad, often (but not always) exaggerated negative press and media portrayals? In some areas, at some times of day, maybe.
How many of us, after all, when visiting another city, when Tacoma comes up in conversation, either change the subject or begin a municipal defense with “It’s not really like that…”? And, after talking for a while, find that we are working at least as hard to convince ourselves as the others present?
That’s what it’s like to be from Tacoma; we ourselves tend to not be fully convinced that Tacoma is as “family-friendly” as we might have thought it was.
Tacoma, for many of us, is like that distracted and unpredictable family member “with lots of potential” who can’t seem to get off the couch and make something of themselves.
Tacoma, in its own way has taken the term “destiny” and, in many ways, put it in the category of “someday we’ll get around to it”.