Watching the Lakers being dismantled by the Celtics in Game 6 of the NBA finals - and congrats to the Celtics, this Lakers fan can admit they were the better team and deserved their championship - but hearing a few rounds of "Beat LA" during the game made me start wondering aloud about where the tradition of that chorus comes from. I hear it much more often here in San Francisco, as a Dodger fan in "enemy territory" (and I say that good-naturedly). It makes sense here, in a way, because of the longtime Dodger-Giants rivalry, and the geographic proximity the two cities have. But as one who has lived in both southern California, including LA for two years, and for a long time San Francisco I can vouch for the fact that they are much more vociferous about hating Los Angeles up here than they are in LA about SF. Angelenos tend to not care very much. Sure, Dodger fans hate the Giants, but it rarely becomes about the city.
And then with Boston of course a lot of it comes from the long historic rivalry the LA Lakers and Celtics have had over the years, going back to the 60s and up through pretty much every decade except the last one. There's been some bad blood, animosity between the teams, that's spilled over to the fans and that's just part of that tradition. But a lot of it stems from stereotypes people have about LA, and the hatred starts to get beyond reason.
Those stereotypes are played up in the media; you can see it when the Lakers play on TV. There's the celebrity montage, cameras finding whatever celebrity they can find in the crowd, playing up the Hollywood angle. (Of course, there were about as many celeb Celtic fans seen in Boston this series, but because LA = Hollywood, it makes sense that people would have the stereotype that most Laker fans are movie stars.) There's the "LA is a horrible place to live" stereotype and "people who live there have had their minds rotted by too much sun and bleach" -again these stereotypes have a grain of truth to them (and Woody Allen would agree with both of them), but they get played up beyond reason to where people are almost rabid in both their beliefs and their hatred.
There were a few columns written by Bill Simmons on ESPN about LA vs. Boston that are so contemptible (and basically meant to be, as sportswriter Simmons switches to his fan hat and tosses journalistic integrity out the window in an attempt to stir up the masses) that I won't even link to them here. You can search and find them. But they're just an example of that sort of crass, almost propagandistic one-dimensionalizing of LA.
But Los Angeles and its people make up such a complex place, it's huge, it's almost mind-boggingly diverse. And even though the film industry is absolutely one of the major employers in the place, and proudly so, the majority of the people working in that industry are much more blue collar than people outside that world realize. Of course we just see the in-front of camera glamor and the famous directors, but the people who work in that field -- and I was one of those grunts -- are much more regular Joes (and Josephines). It's ethnically diverse: 44% non-white + 17% Hispanic, and is home to people from more than 140 countries speaking 224 different identified languages. (As Wikipedia notes:) Ethnic enclaves like Chinatown, Historic Filipinotown, Koreatown, Little Armenia, Little Ethiopia, Tehrangeles, Little India, Little Tokyo, and Thai Town provide examples of the polyglot character of Los Angeles. It's also home to an array of some of the nation's finest museums, an incredible choice of music, some of the finest restaurants in the world, many great universities, and so on.
All that said, there admittedly were things about LA I couldn't stand, and I'm very happy living in the Bay Area (though I left LA to return to SF for a family illness, as well as a job offer, not directly because I hated LA), but San Francisco certainly has flaws, too. And I came to have some affection for Los Angeles after leaving it.
But "Beat LA" is a chant that isn't going anywhere anytime soon, and that's fine. I only hope people will leave it as a superficial sports thing and not carry it into the realm of irrational hatred and stereotyping. There's a smugness that I've seen from people who don't live in LA about LA that only serves to reflect back on them.