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Port: The 'You Betcha' guy has tapped into a underserved market

Montplaisir works in stereotypes of our region, sure, but it's coming from a place of love, and in the galaxy of art that gets made about our part of the world these days, that's a unique thing.

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Former Minnesota State Moorhead football player Myles Montplaisir, right, has started an entertainment channel that deals with Midwest living and usually takes a humorous angle.
Contributed

MINOT, N.D. — Why are we so divided?

It's a question we're all grappling with. What drives the culture war? Why does it seem like so many Americans are living their lives in different reality bubbles?

Perhaps we have an answer from an unlikely place: The comedic stylings of a washed-up local football star turned social media mogul.

You've probably seen Myles Montplaisir, even if you don't know his name. He's been in your social media feeds playing the role of a stereotypical yeah-sure-you-betcha midwesterner holding forth about beer and coolers and grills and mowing lawns.

You Betcha is his brand , and business is good. Montplaisir and his success were recently profiled by Forbes.

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Montplaisir's skewering of our regional culture, from the accent to the passive-aggressive niceness, is spot-on but done with a readily apparent affection.

That last is what's important for the purposes of this column.

Our part of the world, which is to say the Midwest, or even just rural America generally, isn't often portrayed positively. Stories set here in popular culture depict our home as a cold place that is both culturally and geographically barren. A backward place, too, full of backward people who are merely stupid, in the more positive portrayals, or religious zealots and bigots in the rest.

Even shows such as "Yellowstone," which has the roots of its popularity in small-town America , are not particularly positive in their depictions even as they hone to a romantic view of rural living. John Dutton, the ranching magnate serving as the show's antihero, is a murderous figure with few compunctions about bumping off even his own ranch hands when they become inconvenient.

It can be easy for people from our part of the world to get the impression that the rest of the country hates us. Or, at least, are embarrassed by us.

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A school official frustrated with a reporter's coverage was able to convince a law enforcement agent to launch an investigation that included seizing that reporter's phone so she could comb through all the personal and professional information on it. That shouldn't have happened, and it cannot happen again.

This brings us back to Montplaisir. He owes his success to his talent, of course. He's funny and creative, but he's also tapping into an underserved market. An audience of people who live in fly-over country and want to be depicted as something other than diffident dullards.

Montplaisir himself seems aware of this.

“We had come up with an idea of ‘hey, wouldn't it be cool if there was like an entertainment page that was based upon around the Midwest and it just kind of celebrated being from the Midwest?,” he told Forbes, which described him as an "unofficial ambassador" for our region. "And you know, you've seen some of our content of like, that just embodies that the Midwest is the best. And we love being here and we think it should be celebrated. There's no one that is truly putting out content that's like we're proud to be from here.”

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Montplaisir works in stereotypes of our region, sure, but it's coming from a place of love, and in the galaxy of art that gets made about our part of the world these days, that's a unique thing.

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