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Don’t blame the messenger

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Don’t blame the messenger

Journal, Martinsburg, W.Va.: U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has written to MTV’s president, asking him to pull the show “Buckwild,” a “Jersey Shore”-style caricature posing as a reality show featuring Appalachian youth.

While Manchin is well within his rights to express disgust at such a production, the fact is MTV will have no reason to listen as long as viewers — and, therefore, advertising dollars — pour in.

“This show plays to ugly, inaccurate stereotypes about the people of West Virginia,” Manchin wrote.

That, it is a shame to say, is precisely why many will watch. From “Jersey Shore” to “Honey Boo Boo,” television audiences have proven to the networks they can get rich by giving people a lowest-common-denominator train wreck and dressing it up as “reality.” It is exploitative and irresponsible ... and viewers love it.

Viewers who are truly sickened by “Buckwild” have options. Do not watch it. Ask others not to watch it. Use it as an opportunity to remind our children how important it is to behave in a manner of which all West Virginians can be proud.

Just do not blame MTV. The societal dysfunction that keeps these programs in the money is far deeper than the reach of one terrible television show.