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16 Things People Get Wrong About DC

Washington, D. C.
by Matt Hershberger Jul 13, 2014

FROM HOLLYWOOD to the news media, depictions and stereotypes of Washington, DC, always seem way off. The city isn’t remotely like House of Cards, it’s not as full of conniving and kinky sex as depicted, and where, for the love of God, in all of these movies, are the non-white people?

1. Everyone is sexy.

For obvious reasons, Hollywood usually depicts DC as full of Robert Redfords and Kate Maras and Gerard Butlers and Julia Robertses. This is because Hollywood is full of unemployed Kate Maras and Gerard Butlers and needs to give them something to do. DC is of average attractiveness, and you don’t need to be attractive to get into power. Look at Mitch McConnell.

A friend of mine once said, “DC is Hollywood for ugly people.”

2. Everyone is smart.

I know you’re thinking, “No one thinks that,” but seriously — we’d have to be a much smarter city to pull off all those conspiracies you think are being masterminded here.

3. Everyone is stupid.

If someone makes a “gaffe,” they aren’t necessarily stupid. If someone disagrees with you, they aren’t necessarily stupid. While DC is hardly a city filled to the brim with geniuses and prodigies, it’s still a pretty smart city. This country is just that hard to govern.

4. Everyone is incompetent.

Most bureaucrats actually tend to be pretty well-educated, well-qualified people. In regards to most politicians, do you realize how competent you have to be to get that little done and still hold onto your job? They might not be competent in the ways you want them to be, but most of them know exactly what they’re doing.

5. Congress is evil.

Congress is pretty representative of America. If they’re evil, it’s because you’re evil.

6. This is a rich city.

I have never met any of the so-called Washington “fat cats,” but that may be because I’m poor. Regardless, there are a lot of people like me here, and there are also a lot of people who are way poorer than me.

7. Everyone is greedy.

Congressional staffers, for the most part, are incredibly smart and well-educated and get shit pay. They do their job because they believe in their job. The city is also filled with really idealistic nonprofit workers and bureaucrats genuinely trying to make life better for people they don’t know.

8. People are just into real kinky sex here.

For whatever reason, every depiction of DC sex involves leather and a ball gag. I have yet to be at a friend’s party and then, while looking for the bathroom, stumble upon their sex dungeon.

9. This is a conservative city.

My lefty friends all think DC is a really conservative city. Really, the only conservatives here are the Republicans in Congress. The city overwhelmingly votes Democrat in every election, and while our mode of dress tends to be professional and conservative, we have the largest out-of-the-closet gay population in America, and we recently decriminalized pot.

10. This is a left-wing city.

My conservative friends and family members tend to look at DC as a modern-day Sodom. Which, given the whole gay thing, isn’t totally inaccurate, but honestly, it’s hardly a bastion of revolution. The entire city’s economy depends on establishment, so it’s not a super easy place to get a job if you’re an anti-establishment type. Yes, it’s traditionally liberal, but it’s not revolutionarily leftist.

11. Everyone is power-hungry.

Most of us are just hungry. It’s like, a 40-minute walk from me to the nearest Shake Shack, and I’ll be damned if I’m eating something other than Shake Shack.

12. The town’s a bubble that’s out of touch with the rest of America.

I’m not from DC. My fiancee’s not from DC. Literally none of my friends are from DC. It’s an incredibly transitory town, with a lot of people moving into the city from homes around the country to work for a while and then move back home. This isn’t everyone, obviously, but the idea that a city that has people from literally every place in America is out of touch is a bit ludicrous.

13. We don’t have good pizza.

We don’t have the best pizza. But after living in London and not touching a good pizza for over a year, I’ll take a slice from We the Pizza any day.

14. We’re gaudy.

The immensely rich are the most likely to be gaudy. And they don’t live in DC. You want to know why? Because they can hire people to do what they want to do in DC.

15. It’s violent.

Look, like every major city, DC has its crime. It also has a pretty serious race and class divide. But crime has been on the decrease here in DC for a few decades now.

16. It’s just a bunch of white Senators.

For whatever reason, in media depictions, the city seems to be made up solely older white men. Seriously guys — this city is almost 50% black, and about 10% of the city is of Hispanic descent. You’re not even trying anymore.

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