MTV, Seek Redemption

04.15.2013, 9:59 AM

MTV announced last week that it won’t air the second season of the popular reality TV show Buckwild, after the most popular cast member, Shain Gandee, died in a mudding accident. As you may know, Buckwild followed the exploits of a group of 20-somethings in a small West Virginia town. The idea is that it’s Jersey Shore West Virginia style.

Amber and I watched a few episodes, and found the whole thing terribly exploitative — but a fairly accurate indicator of how “emerging adulthood” is playing out in working-class America. With no real courtship script and few norms to guide young adults’ sexual behaviors, everybody is a free sexual agent — and everyone seems to realize it. Hooking up and cheating and mistrust abound.

Although Amber and I have heard many working class young adults say that their bad experiences with sex and relationships were valuable learning experiences,  it is difficult to see how the “Buckwild“ script helps working class young adults to reach the good marriage that most working class young adults want — particularly because many of them already have the disadvantage of a low stock of “trust capital” because of their families’ fragmentation.

Good for MTV for cancelling the show. It was a disgrace that they ever ran it. Instead of gawking and profiting from the deterioration of trust in working-class America, Big Media should create television that helps working class young adults to rebuild trust, and that supports their aspirations for a good marriage and family life.


4 Responses to “MTV, Seek Redemption”

  1. La Lubu says:

    David, the point of shows like “Buckwild” or “Jersey Shore” or whatever unreality television show is spilling out of whatever sewage pipe…..is ridicule. Those shows are designed to exaggerate the worst stereotypes, present that as “real life” and a “true” depiction of the people in that culture/subculture, and thus offer a means for people not of that culture/subculture to (a) congratulate themselves for not being Those People and (b) offer them an excuse for continuing to negatively stereotype Those People (because television shows are documentaries, right?).

  2. Mont D. Law says:

    (With no real courtship script and few norms to guide young adults’ sexual behaviors, everybody is a free sexual agent — and everyone seems to realize it. Hooking up and cheating and mistrust abound.)

    I find this script meme really annoying. Young people have a perfectly good script, you just can’t read it. Most of the ones with social and economic capital ate marrying and staying married.

    And while we’re discussing the antics of the poor Scots-Irish of Buck’s County maybe you can point me to a time when they were less dysfunctional, but I doubt it. Read (White Trash: The Eugenic Family Studies) and you’ll see people like you have been judging people like them for a very long time.

    (Those shows are designed to exaggerate the worst stereotypes, present that as “real life” and a “true” depiction of the people in that culture/subculture, and thus offer a means for people not of that culture/subculture to (a) congratulate themselves for not being Those People and (b) offer them an excuse for continuing to negatively stereotype Those People (because television shows are documentaries, right?).)

    This is as true of reality shows about rich people. The House Wives of series, the various dating shows, the dance and cheer shows all do the same thing. None of those people are poor.

  3. mythago says:

    Amber and I watched a few episodes, and found the whole thing terribly exploitative — but a fairly accurate indicator of how “emerging adulthood” is playing out in working-class America.

    Really? You feel that a reality TV show, which is deliberately manipulated to exaggerate stereotypes and salacious behavior, is a realistic or accurate indicator of anything?

  4. Diane M says:

    @Mont D Law – “I find this script meme really annoying. Young people have a perfectly good script, you just can’t read it. Most of the ones with social and economic capital ate marrying and staying married.”

    Do you really think that the young people who have children before marriage have a perfectly good script?