Although I have never watched a single episode of either The OC or Laguna Beach, I do happen to live in the real “OC” in a city just a few miles south of Laguna Beach. I could be at Laguna Beach in less than ten minutes if I wanted to.
Just this last week I read an article in USA Today expressing the opinions of some of my disgruntled neighbors who claim shows like this are giving our community a bad name. Judging by what they are saying about the shows, they portray everyone in Orange County as being rich, gorgeous and completely self absorbed.
According to the Orange County Register the typical OC resident:
• is well educated
•enjoys where he/she lives
•likes his/her job
•values health and fitness and make them priorities
•is skeptical of organized religion
•tends to like contemporary music
•enjoys designer coffee
•lacks meaningful relationships
•is self-satisfied and is proud of the status he/she has achieved in life
•prefers the casual and informal
•has high expectations
• is over-extended in both time and money
So let’s break this down a bit.
Rich: it seems to me that most people in Orange County live completely financed lives. They drive cars that aren’t paid for, the live in houses they will probably never pay off, and most of their extravagant purchases are put on credit cards with high credit limits and ridiculously high interest rates. So by comparing what they owe to what they actually own, most people in the OC really aren’t rich. Even those who make a lot of money still seem to spend an average of ten percent more than they make. And considering those surveyed said they lack meaningful relationships in life, this takes the wealth factor down another notch. Not only are my neighbors not rich in money, they also aren’t rich in relationships.
Gorgeous: Now, it is actually true that there seems to be a day spa on almost every corner. People here tend to pamper themselves more than people anywhere else I have ever been. Most of the women (myself included) color their hair and get their nails done. And designer clothes really aren’t in short supply (although in my closet they definitely are). But being that most of my neighbors polled are skeptical of organized religion, and therefore do not have personal relationships with Jesus Christ, there is an inner beauty that is missing. Taking that point a step further, the Register proclaimed Orange County the least generous county in all of the United States. Considering it is also probably one of the wealthiest (based on income levels and the amount of credit available to its residents), I think that really makes a statement about the hearts of the people who live here. (Now granted, my pastor recently shared a story about how people at our church tithe so abundantly that our church brought in one million dollars more than they needed to run the church for this whole next year. So now we are able to do more outreach stuff. So obviously the statistic doesn’t include everyone.) As far as being gorgeous goes, some of these people may look like they are made of plastic, but since they are hollow inside it really doesn’t matter.
Self-Absorbed: I think we covered this point in the gorgeous section.
So there you have it. The materialistic wonderland that Hollywood has created does in fact exist, but it really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Orange County is, in fact, a very beautiful (and expensive) place to live. But many of its residents don’t have it all because they don’t have Christ. And in the end, He really is everything.
What about where you live? If you had to make a list about the average resident of your city or town, how would it define your friends and neighbors—and maybe even you?