What are the cultural references in "go back to Jersey you bum" in the Planes 2013 Movie? I read that Jersey is called the Garden State. So does that mean it's known for agriculture and that plane is from a farming area? Or there's more to it than what I understood?

In another scene another hostile plane despises the this "hero" plane by calling him farm boy in "That farm boy forgot who he is and where he came from" and "I can still smell the farm on you".

The Youtube Clip, Planes Trailer (HD) (English & French Subtitles)

  • I haven't watched this movie yet. Maybe he was really from the Jersey. Or maybe it was a stereotypical talk, as you guessed, which I think it's quite likely. (There is another stereotypical line at the end of your clip, "I'm not crying. I'm British!" :-) Jan 13, 2014 at 11:46
  • Jersey en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jersey. New Jersey en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Jersey.
    – Tristan
    Jan 13, 2014 at 16:48

3 Answers 3


New Jersey is not generally known for farming. It is generally thought of as small cities and suburbs.

The origins of the nickname "the Garden State" are not clear. They apparently go back to the late 1800s. Maybe at that time the nickname was highly appropriate. It was declared the official nickname in 1954. I just did a bit of checking and find that the bill making it the official nickname was vetoed by the governor on the grounds that most citizens of New Jersey do not think of gardens or farming as more representative of the state than other industries, but the legislature overrode his veto.

As someone who grew up in New York, I can tell you that most New Yorkers think of New Jersey as the poor step-sister of New York, as a place to be looked down on. They think of it as dirty, poor, unsophisticated, etc. I recall a New York friend of mine referring to New Jersey as "the armpit of America", which may have been extreme but is pretty typical of the attitude. (Of course, New Yorkers tend to view the entire rest of the world as the poor step-sister of New York. They have the curious idea that the fact that they live in a place with a higher population density than most of the rest of the world makes them superior human beings, an idea I didn't understand when I lived there, much less since I've moved away.) I don't know if the phrase "go back to Jersey"'s firat appearance in a movie was the one Stoney B cited, but the idea of insulting someone by telling him to "go back to Jersey" is consistent with the way New Yorker's thought and spoke since I was a kid in the 1960s.

And yes, New Yorkers disdain people from farm country even more than they disdain people from New Jersey. They routinely see farmers and people from farming areas as stupid, corrupt, and uncultured. Watch TV shows or movies made by people from New York where the characters travel to a rural area. A very common plot theme is that the local governments in such areas are corrupt, with the "outsiders" arrested on trumped-up charges to cover up some nefarious plot, or just because the locals are suspicious of all outsiders. Considering that statistics show that New York City has a much higher rate of official corruption and street crime than almost any rural area in the country, it's a curious stereotype, but there it is. Oh, and rural people are always assumed to be ignorant of modern life, and New Yorkers are routinely amazed to discover that people in rural areas have computers and cell phones and cable TV.

  • +1 It is perhaps only fair to acknowledge that the rest of the country is just as parochial and is united only in reciprocating the NewYorkCitizen's disdain by referring to NYC as the anus (the actual term is more vulgar) of America. Jan 13, 2014 at 18:48
  • I now live in the outskirts of Detroit. Whatever else one might say about Detroit, I don't think arrogance is an issue here. Though folks here are pretty proud when the FBI crime statistics are published and we once again are #1.
    – Jay
    Jan 13, 2014 at 20:52
  • 1
    Color me envious. St. Louis is #2. But we try harder. Jan 13, 2014 at 21:01
  • 1
    @StoneyB - One of my favorite Simpsons lines happens after news anchorman Ken Brockman announces that Springfield has moved up a notch in the livability index. The show then cuts to Comic Book Guy, looking at his computer screen, at what is obviously the last few entries of the list. "Ha! Take that, East St. Louis," he says, with Springfield listed second from the bottom.
    – J.R.
    Jan 14, 2014 at 9:27
  • @JR New York:Jersey::St Louis:East St Louis. Jan 7, 2017 at 18:42

It's actually an allusion (if you are a student of cinema, an homage) to a line from the 1988 movie Scrooged: the Ghost of Christmas Past, in the persona of a New York City cabbie, almost collides with a delivery van and yells at the driver "Go back to Jersey, ya moron!" —CLIP

What it expresses is not so much that Jersey is agricultural but that Jersey is not New York City. New Jersey lies right across the Hudson River from New York, and from an NYC perspective, the rest of the country is merely an extension of Jersey:

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The expression Go back to Jersey has consequently been adopted by right-thinking inhabitants of The Big Apple to express their disdain for all those who lack the consummate sophistication, charm and panache which are the birthright of native New Yorkers.


The phrase predates the movie. I lived in NYC 1979-1990 and the expression was in common parlance during that period so its roots are probably much older. It was used as a mild insult or rebuke, often in traffic confrontations and "Jersey" was pronounced with an exaggerated "Joyzee" accent. Its meaning was to infer that anyone who exhibited unsofisticated behavior on the urbane streets of Manhattan was no doubt a resident of New Jersey and that they should return there forthwith.

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