Having neared completion on its exhaustive sociological study of Italian people in New Jersey, MTV has now set its sights on Western Virginia’s bucolic splendor, which is the sound one makes just before barfing up a liter of Southern Comfort and coal dust. Naturally, that endeavor, the upcoming reality series Buckwild, has already been called The Jersey Shore Of Appalachia—a comparison that has become even more apt, now that one of West Virginia’s elected officials has publicly condemned it.
Much as Governor Chris Christie once argued that Jersey Shore was negatively affecting the public’s perception of New Jersey, which had until then been regarded as a Renaissance-era Florence but with Bon Jovi, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has written MTV an angry letter that MTV executives will definitely read and not just post on an office bulletin board somewhere to laugh at. In it, he asks the network to “put a stop to the travesty called Buckwild” and rethink its decision to profit from the exploitation of “the poor decisions of our youth” that has fueled MTV’s entire existence, and maybe make some money off something else now. For example, pictures of pretty mountains. West Virginia has lots of them. Why not do a show about that?
Saying Buckwild “plays to ugly, inaccurate stereotypes about the people of West Virginia” by finding those people and filming them, Manchin further accuses MTV of having “preyed on young people” and “coaxed them into displaying shameful behavior”—turning up in West Virginia with cameras, and convincing those young people to set aside their normal schedules of pride-instilling, industrious labor and Thoreau-like contemplation of West Virginia’s natural beauty, and instead get real drunk and set things on fire. “Let me tell you: 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,” Manchin chided. Though of course, as those people didn’t then chuck that steel out of a giant slingshot while hollering excitedly, MTV wasn’t interested in them.