BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — “Buckwild,” the soon-to-be-released MTV West Virginia-based reality show, has been all over the national news. The network has got to be loving the free publicity.
Folks back home in West Virginia aren’t quite as happy. Many are downright upset. And their concern is justified.
Normally, we reserve judgment on a television show until actually viewing the entire broadcast. But MTV’s preview of “Buckwild” is enough to realize the upcoming series is bad news for the Mountain State.
Coming from the same network that brought “Jersey Shore” to television, MTV will air the inaugural episode of “Buckwild” at 10 p.m. on Jan. 3. The series was filmed in Charleston and Sissonville, and features nine young adults.
The eye-opening trailer shows the cast of 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 they were acting to the camera — or being as “real” as reality television can get — their actions and words are reason for concern.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin denied the producers tax credits for the 12-part series because of concerns over its negative and inaccurate portrayal of West Virginians.
“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 wrongful 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,” featuring residents of rural Appalachia relocated to Beverly Hills, Calif. Plans for that show were thankfully canceled following widespread opposition from West Virginians.
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.” Based on the trailer, the intent is clearly to showcase poor moral behavior that plays into the sterotypical image of West Virginians.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., calls “Buckwild” a “travesty.” He's asked MTV to cancel the show before the first episode airs. He is to be applauded.
Instead of showcasing the beauty of West Virginia, he said in a letter to MTV, "you preyed on young people, coaxed them into displaying shameful behavior — and now you are profiting from it. That is just wrong. "
If you want to see a good movie 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.
Samantha Perry is a coluimnist for the Bluefield, W. Va., Daily Telegraph.