Meet the new show, same as the old show. Just what does that mean exactly? Well, it appears that MTV has managed to find a fitting replacement for their canceled once-upon-a-time hit show "Jersey Shore" with another that looks to be just as controversial: A series of episodes centered around the escapades of young rednecks in West Virginia. It's called "Buckwild" and its already causing a bit of consternation with the junior senator from the Mountain State, Joe Manchin III. He's requested that MTV pull the show before it airs its first episode.
And he based his opinion of "Buckwild" on just a couple of clips of promos he's seen.
Manchin became incensed watching the videos of the show's stars, a bunch of young people doing careless and irresponsible things: launching each other from a human slingshot, wild drinking and partying (complete with promiscuity). He fired off a letter of protest to MTV, according to the Washington Post, noting that the show played off of negative stereotypes of the people of his home state.
“As a U.S. Senator, I am repulsed at this business venture," Machin wrote the network, "where some Americans are making money off of the poor decisions of our youth. I cannot imagine that anyone who loves this country would feel proud profiting off of ‘Buckwild.’
“Instead of showcasing the beauty of our people and our state, you preyed on young people, coaxed them into displaying shameful behavior — and now you are profiting from it. That is just wrong.”
He later added, "This show plays to ugly, inaccurate stereotypes about the people of West Virginia."
The new reality show follows the lives of nine twenty-something rednecks in small-town, rural West Virginia (Sissonville, to be exact, population: about 4,000). They're into a carefree lifestyle, partying, and off-the-grid living. They'd rather go boggin' and sling some mud than surf the Internet. In fact, besides a few phones, the "Buckwild" bunch appear to be somewhat unplugged from the rest of tech-crazy America.
"Jersey Shore," if memory serves, got its big boost in much the same way. The series, which followed a cast of housemates transplanted from New York hanging out and partying in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, may not have made past a couple seasons had it not gained notoriety through protests and the publicity generated by said protests. First it was the people of Seaside Heights and New Jerseyans in general, complaining that the goings-on with the show's cast wasn't indicative of the city or the state's residents. Then there were the complaints from Italian-Americans slamming the cast and MTV for pushing unfavorable Italian stereotypes.
Sounds as if "Buckwild" already has a few similarities to "Jersey Shore." And if events stay close to the pattern, "Buckwild" will undoubtedly become as successful or more than the show that spawned Snooki, The Situation, and company. Curiosity alone will get it decent ratings at least on its first few shows. Such is the contrary nature of the human animal: Tell it to avoid something and it will not, curiosity and the need to establish some sense of control forcing the issue, bringing it around to doing what it was advised not to do in the first place.
MTV, which describes the show as an "authentic comedy" where the cast's motto is 'whatever happens, happens,' has ordered twelve episodes for the inaugural run of the series. With Manchin's letter and growing publicity about the redneck reality series, it's likely that the show will see at least limited success, the young people on the show becoming famous for being famous like their Jersey beach house counterparts.
"Buckwild" premieres on Jan. 3, 2013, at 10 p.m. (EST). Appropriately enough, they'll take over the "Jersey Shore" time slot. "Jersey Shore" will air its final episode on Dec. 20.
Take Home Message: Anytime someone calls attention to something, especially in a forceful manner, that person should always be ready for a blowback of unintended consequences. Highlighting something gives it added presence, a position of added relevance and credibility it may not have had otherwise. In the case of Sen. Manchin's letter of protest and request for cancellation of "Buckwild" will undoubtedly spur more people to watch the show than might never have watched had it not become embroiled in controversy. But at the same time, Manchin may have considered what his public stance might cause and pushed onward regardless. Why? Because he saw a wrong being done the majority of West Virginians with the perpetuation of negative stereotypes that the state produces nothing but ignorant, ridge-running, reckless, irresponsible hillbillies and felt the need to address it. Because sometimes one has to take a stand against a perceived wrong, even though one's actions might very well lead to creating a larger problem, for what does it say about someone who sees something ill, wrong, or incorrect and does nothing?
(photo credit: US Congress, Wikimedia Commons)