New reality show follows W.Va. teens
Published: Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, December 6, 2011 23:12
MTV has picked up a new reality series called "Buck Wild," which will follow the lives of recent high school graduates in rural West Virginia.
The show will revolve around a group of friends who "share a deep pride in contemporary small-town American life and a passion for living it to the fullest, while making up their own rules as they go," according to a press release.
"Buck Wild" is scheduled to premiere late this summer and will feature a "Jackass"-like element as the show's characters take part in activities like mud racing, squirrel hunting and rope swinging, according to TV Guide.
"The series is really about following a group of friends in West Virginia and exploring their own personal stories as they navigate life post-high school," MTV told The Daily Athenaeum Monday. "Everyone has been great, and we're excited to have this dynamic group of friends' stories evolve over the course of the series."
But, not everyone is excited for the new series.
State officials denied MTV state tax credit for the program out of fear the show would cast the state in a negative light, and Jinny Turman-Deal, a West Virginia University doctoral student, said their doubts are legitimate.
Turman-Deal has a masters degree in Appalachian studies and is working on a dissertation that focuses on stereotypes within the state. She said the media has shaped a negative perception of West Virginia for years, pointing to films like "The Dancing Outlaw" and "The Wild Wonderful Whites of West Virginia."
"Honestly, I think people have a reason to be concerned. The characters of these shows are usually the most eccentric and don't represent the whole population. I know a lot of people from New Jersey who resent ‘Jersey Shore,'" she said. "But, hopefully there's something deeper to this show, and it doesn't simply reinforce a stereotype."
The most popular West Virginia stereotypes include inbreeding, unnecessary violence and illiteracy, Turman-Deal said, and most stem from the media's coverage of historical events like the Hatfield-McCoy feud and Eleanor Roosevelt's establishment of the Arthurdale community.
"There's this existing idea that the people are violent, uneducated and fatalistic without any aspirations to improve their lot in life," she said. "A hoard of media cameras produced pictures of impoverished miners during JFK's campaign here without explaining the circumstances, and every generation sees its own renewed attention to Appalachia projected through the media, which doesn't attempt to analyze or understand the state."
WVU students voiced their thoughts on the upcoming reality series.
"I've dealt with people who question the intelligence of the people here or make jokes about being inbred and ask if we're married to our cousins," said Christopher Lopez, a social work graduate student from Clarksburg, W.Va. "It just comes down to ignorance on their part, and I can't do anything about that."
Lopez said he hopes "Buck Wild" will allow the country to see what West Virginia is really all about, but has his doubts.
"I hope these characters represent the state well, but I doubt that they will. They're going to pick something that sells, and that usually involves stereotypes," he said
Megan Green, a psychology student from Charleston, W.Va., said she fears the new show will only worsen the country's already negative perception of the state.
"The ‘redneck' stereotype that pollutes the public's ideal of West Virginia is ignorant and repulsive. I'll be mortified if MTV only zones in on a specific area of West Virginia and promotes a very narrow view of Appalachia. We're so much more than four-wheelers and shotguns," she said.