Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 13, 2012

‘Buckwild’ Poor depiction of West Virginia

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— “Buckwild,” the controversial new West Virginia-based reality show, has been all over the national news as of late. MTV, in all honesty, is probably loving all of the free press the show is getting. But folks back home in West Virginia aren’t quite as happy. In fact, many are downright upset. And their concern is rightfully justified.

Normally we would reserve judgment on a television show until actually viewing the entire broadcast. However, MTV’s trailer of “Buckwild” is enough for us to realize that the new series is bad news for the Mountain State.

Coming to us from the same network that brought “Jersey Shore” to television, MTV will begin airing the reality show “Buckwild” at 10 p.m. on Jan. 3. The series was filmed in Charleston and Sissonville. The eye-opening trailer shows a cast of young men and women drinking, cursing and swearing, undressing and making out, four-wheeling, fighting and even filling a dump truck with water and using it as a swimming pool. Whether these young adults were acting to the camera — or being as “real” as reality television can get — their actions and words are still reason for concern.

The state denied tax credits for the 12-episode series based over concerns about its negative portrayal of West Virginia. We believe this was the correct decision by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

“Buckwild” isn’t Spike TV’s “Coal.” Nor is it Universal Picture’s “October Sky,” or Steven Spielberg’s “Super 8.”  Not even close. Instead, it appears to be a very sad effort by MTV to create a negative image of West Virginia and to promote an ugly stereotype of the proud citizens of the Mountain State. That’s truly sad. But shouldn’t we be used to it by now?

Back in 2002, CBS wanted to develop the “The Real Beverly Hillbillies,” which was to feature residents of rural Appalachia that were to be relocated to the middle of Beverly Hills. Plans for that show were thankfully canceled following widespread opposition from state residents. Then we had to endure the slasher flick “Wrong Turn,” a movie about inbred West Virginia cannibalistic mountain men that went so far as to make a reference to missing Bluefield State College students in its opening minutes.

Why television and movie studios continue to promote the Mountain State in a negative light is baffling. We see nothing positive coming out of “Buckwild.” It is clearly the intent of the trailer to showcase poor moral behavior among West Virginia youth, and to illustrate negative Mountain State stereotypes.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., calls “Buckwild” a “travesty.” He is asking MTV to cancel the show before the first episode airs. He is to be applauded for taking this correct stand.

“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,” Manchin said in a letter to MTV. “That is just wrong. This show plays to ugly, inaccurate stereotypes about the people of West Virginia. Let me tell you: our people have given their all for this great country. They’ve done the heavy lifting to produce the energy that is needed to produce the steel that builds our factories and cities. The proud veterans of our state have shed more blood and made more sacrifices than most other states to keep America free. We’re proud of all we do to make America strong and secure the cherished freedoms that you seem so determined to abuse.”

We agree. We would urge all viewers to avoid “Buckwild” based upon what we’ve seen to date.

If you want to see a good movie filmed in West Virginia or Virginia, or with a West Virginia or Virginia connection, watch “October Sky;” 1994’s “Lassie,” which was filmed in its entirety in Tazewell County; the modern classic “Dirty Dancing,” which was filmed in Giles County; or “Super 8.”. And don’t forget the Academy Award winning “A Beautiful Mind” featuring the true story Bluefield’s Nobel laureate Dr. John Forbes Nash Jr., as well as “Lincoln,” which was filmed in Virginia and is currently playing in theaters.