From Chuck Klosterman's 2001 "heavy metal odyssey in rural North Dakota," Fargo Rock City:
Where I grew up, there were not a lot of people. In fact, there are currently more people in my apartment complex than there were in my hometown. There were no black people, no Hispanic people, no Asian people, no openly gay people, and everyone thought the same way about everything (the major exception being that "Ford vs. Chevy" thing).
Now, this does not mean rural North Dakotans are not smart; in fact, the opposite is true. I generally find that midwesterners have far more practical sensibility than people from metropolitan areas; they seem to have a better sense of themselves, and the general education level is higher (this is mostly due to the fact that virtually no one ever drops out of school in a small town and cutting class is almost impossible, so even the least-educated people have spent twelve years at a desk).
In a lot of ways, I loved growing up in Wyndmere. But what the culture lacked (and still lacks) is an emphasis on ideas---especially ideas that don't serve a practical, tangible purpose. In North Dakota, life is about work. Everything is based on working hard, regardless of what it earns you. If you're spending a lot of time mulling over the state of the universe (or even the state of your own life), you're obviously not working. You probably need to get back to work. And when that work is over, you will either watch network TV or you will get drunk (or both). Even in moments of freedom, you're never dealing with ideas.
Growing up in this kind of atmosphere is incredibly frustrating for anyone who's interested in anything stretching beyond the conversation at the local Cenex convenience store. If you want to consciously be absurd (which is what I wanted to do all the time), there simply aren't too many like-minded people to talk to. The big-city stereotype surrounding redneck intellectuals is that they eventually go to college and are amazed by all the different people they meet. I actually had the opposite experience; I was shocked to find people who were like me.
Still, we are all products of our environment, even if we like to pretend otherwise. So let's say you are the smartest sixteen-year-old in town; let's assume you're creative and introspective and philosophical. You still have a finite number of social tools to work with. You're only going to apply those espoused intellectual qualities to the redneck paradigm that already exists. You may indeed be having "deep thoughts," but they're only deeper versions of the same ideas that are available to everyone else.