On Jan. 3, 2012, I did the unthinkable.
I tuned my television to MTV.
Let me finish, let me finish.
You see, I have not watched “Music Television” in five, maybe six years, but this date presented a rare opportunity I just could not pass up.
The station’s latest ratings-grubbing phenomenon, “Buckwild,” came to town, and I had to check out the cause of all the Twitter ruckus.
As a West Virginia University student, I knew exactly what to expect from the show. I know the stereotypes, and I knew MTV would exploit them.
Keep in mind: this is MTV we’re talking about. This isn’t an Ed Burns documentary on teenage life in Appalachia (thank goodness), nor is it an all-inclusive look into the hardships of southern West Virginia families.
That would have made for good television, and MTV isn’t in the market of good television.
No, “Buckwild” is, as you have undoubtedly heard by now, “The Jersey Shore of Appalachia,” which essentially amounts to “some slutty chicks running around in Sissonville, W. Va. and the surrounding areas while guys do stupid s*** in an attempt to bang them.”
If you watched the premier episode, this is exactly what happened. One cast member, Cara Parrish, instantly became the talk of the town…or at least the talk of the three testosterone-laden males on the show who were told by the producers to fight for her delicate, loving embrace.
One of the cast members banged her in a friend’s bed in the first episode. How romantic.
The content of the show, however, was far from the most entertaining aspect of this viewing experience. That distinction goes to the Twitterverse, where West Virginians sounded off on the show’s proceedings.
A high school classmate of Cara’s produced this absolute gem minutes into the show:
He followed up with this:
The sex, “look at me, I’m a skank” aspect of the show is fun, if for nothing other than the sheer entertainment value, sure.
The message the show sends on behalf of The Mountain State, though?
Yeah, not so fun.
Personally, I don’t think any reasonable American citizen is naive enough to believe any state “lives by its own rules,” but for proud residents of the state, it sucks to be represented in that fashion.
Is West Virginia really a land of dirty and sleazy teenagers who party hard with no fear of repercussions?
Actually, yes, it is—to an extent.
My small hometown of McConnellsburg, Pa., fits that description just as much as Sissonville, W. Va., and I’m sure there are countless other towns across the nation that exhibit the same behavior.
Teenagers are stupid. They have fun. They drink. They party. They bang.
It’s just the way the world is.
To make Sissonville, W. Va., the nucleus of this activity, though, is absurd, and to represent the state of West Virginia in such a negative light because of these teenagers’ actions is incredibly unfair.
West Virginia has real problems, and “Buckwild” conveniently glosses over them and paints them in a cheery light.
As Twitter user @ddryan points out:
I don’t know what we expected with MTV (I certainly didn’t expect more), but “Buckwild” is a disgrace.
Having fun is one thing.
Exploitation is another.