West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin “repulsed” by MTV’s Buckwild, requests its cancellation

We have covered a seemingly bottomless amount of new reality shows over the years we’ve been up and posting. I can say, without hesitation, that never have I seen more backlash and all around grumbling about an as-yet-aired show than what MTV’s Buckwild is facing.

If you missed the trailer for the show, which apparently is what everyone is basing their judgements upon, we have 9 young adults cuttin’ up in the area of Sissonville, West Virginia. There’s partying, a pool constructed out of the back of a big truck, random tire-rollin stunts, some overt sexual behavior and other forms of random acts of wildness. That’s it, no gratuitous violence, nudity, uncensored foul language; just a group of kids with the resources of a network having a blast.

We first reported on the show when the state refused tax credits for filming because of the fear of perpetuating negative stereotypes of the citizens from West Virginia:

“It [the production] can’t portray West Virginia in a significantly derogatory manner,” said West Virginia Film Office Director Pam Haynes, acknowledging that what is deemed “significantly derogatory” is subjective and decided by a six-member panel.”

Now Senator Joe Manchin has climbed on board with what appears to be a popular opinion of his constituency. He’s even gone as far as to pen a letter to the president of MTV, Stephen Fiedman, requesting that he “put a stop to the travesty called Buckwild.” Manchin stated in part:

“As a U.S. Senator, I am repulsed at this business venture, where some Americans are making money off of the poor decisions of our youth,” Manchin wrote. “I cannot imagine that anyone who loves this country would feel proud profiting off of ‘Buckwild.’ 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. That is just wrong.”

Many of those opposed to the idea of the show are relating it to the popular documentary The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia which followed the doings of the notorious family from Boone County. Those folks are legendary lawbreakers, a completely different breed from the kids who form the cast of MTV’s new show.

I grew up in rural Northwest Florida, known unofficially as the “Redneck Riviera,” and after turning 21 while in college I know I had my fair share of “buck wild” times. We were just kids looking for something to do that usually involved alcohol and creative means at being rediculously silly. We weren’t hurting anyone, we had a mind to make sure someone capable could drive and I have no regrets about blowing off the steam of simply being of that age and still lingering around the town I grew up in.

Best I can tell, this scene plays itself out in small towns and big cities all across America and beyond. I appreciate those who do not want their lives being defined by whatever might air on the show, remember it hasn’t aired yet, but calling it a travesty and preying on young people? I just don’t see that.

In the end this is entertainment, a TV show, and by all accounts the kids from the show are not puppets in an evil network conspiracy. Some of the cast members are attending or have graduated from college and they’ve even got a prom king who loves his momma who missed the dance to work. They aren’t fools and from my research most of them display a great sense of awareness about their lives, the show and a refreshing ability to laugh at themselves and the wild times viewers will see.

Most of my family is from just across the border in Southwest Virginia. I’ve seen the intense beauty and have met some of the most kind and good-hearted people, who didn’t know me from Adam, while spending time in the great state of West Virginia. My real life experience informs my opinion of those proud to call West Virginia home. Nothing that I’d see on a TV show would change that.

Here is Manchin’s full letter:

Dear Mr. Stephen K. Friedman,

As a proud West Virginian, I am writing to formally request that you put a stop to the travesty called “Buckwild.” As a U.S. Senator, I am repulsed at this business venture, where some Americans are making money off of the poor decisions of our youth. I cannot imagine that anyone who loves this country would feel proud about profiting off of “Buckwild.”

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. 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.

Your program offers nothing about the major issues of our time: how we move our country forward, how we prepare young people to lead this country and take responsibility for themselves and how we put our finances in better shape for the next generation. I am writing to urge you to reconsider airing this show. I hope that as you consider your decision, that you would consider your own state, your own community and your own children. Would you try to portray them in this light?

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  • jersey girl

    Now they understand how the rest of us in NJ felt when Jersey Shore hit the air. All of negative media attached to NJ has been disgusting. Real NJ people (not the cast which are all NY transplants) are nothing like what is shown on that show.

    • Jersey Girl 2

      Amen, from one Jersey girl to another. I was going to write the SAME EXACT thing.

    • Chrissy

      Actually Mike, Sammi and Deena are all from NJ and the show was never tried to say every person was from NJ. Pretty sure a lot if people who party at the Jersey Shore aren’t actually from NJ.

  • Nathan

    This show looks like trash, plain and simple. If you don’t have a problem with this type of filth being promoted to teens and pre-teens on national television, then fine. But I don’t see how you can act surprised that people would have serious objections to it.

  • Whitney

    As a West Virginian (actually 15 minutes down the road from Sissonville), I completely agree with Senator Manchin. The real problem isn’t that they’re showing a bunch of country kids having fun. The problem is how incredibly fake it is. The majority of these kids are from the upper-middle class areas of Kanawha City & South Hills and had never done any of the stereotyped “regional pastimes” of mud wrestlin’ & squirrel huntin’. These are typical kids from the suburbs coaxed by MTV to help portray their false idea of what West Virginians are & do.

  • hailz

    Isnt Leah from teen mom 2 from west Virginia? Why is this being attacked yet kids young as 16 can gilm a tv show and claim its helpi.g people HAHAHAHA

    • WV Girl

      Yes, she’s from Elkview which is another town outside of Charleston. Unfortunately, Leah & her family have always been trash. Everyone around here knows it

  • Dee

    I live 20 minutes from Sissonville. I’m still not sure how I feel about the show. From what I’ve seen and been around, a lot of West Virginian teens do drink, go mudding, 4-wheeling, etc. It’s unfortunately not that off-base for a lot of WV’s youth. However, some of us have worked hard to drop the stigma associated with those actions and this show surely isn’t going to help. I had hoped Leah would be positive for the state, but that was too much responsibility for her shoulders as she is having her third child at the age of 20 and has already been married twice and divorced once.

    I don’t think Manchin is going to change anything with his letter of disapproval, but at least he stood up for the state. However, like I said before, from the trailers… not completely off-base. To the extreme? Sure, but that’s what sells.
    Intelligent people will know that not everyone in WV is like the people featured on the show, just like I know that the people on Jersey Shore aren’t like everyone from NJ. I don’t judge NJ based off of what the cast of Jersey Shore did and I don’t think everyone will judge WV based upon what the cast of Buck Wild will do.

    • Shae

      I feel exactly the same. Teens in every state of the country – all over the world – drink and act like fools but I fear Buckwild will only reinforce the stereotype that WV (and the deep south) is some wasteland full of uneducated, lazy, inbred hillbillies. I’ve lived the majority of my life in FL but was born in Charelston and visit WV often and know those are just nasty stereotypes. However I am worried that other people will not understand that these 6 (?) young adults are not representative of the state as whole, just as the Jersey Shore crew were not representative of NJ either.

      On the other hand it is entertainment. It may be just as disgusting and degrading as many MTV reality shows before it, as Machin points out, but we still have freedom of press and the media in this country. The network does have right to air Buckwild even many of us are not exactly thrilled by what this says of WV.

      BTW, does this article come from a blog on Starcasm? ‘Rediculously’ … are you serious? Where’s the editor? Cripes, how can you even be a journalistic writer, even of the lowest form, and not know how to spell ‘ridiculous’? If for no other reason than that’s the namesake of a show on MTV as well…

  • Ryah

    Being from WV–I find this ‘so-called-show’ so far off base–but WE must keep in mind WHO MTV is playing to. Mostly pimple popping, easily excited, pubescent wankers–with one hand on the remote–and the other in their pants–from OTHER states that have a NEED to ‘feel superior’ !!
    Have to say MTV did a good job at “Type Casting”–almost every one of this “cast” looks like the stereotypical “inbred redneck” !! The Paintball department of the Sissonville Wal-Mart must be missing a few of their best customers. Hopefully the next time ‘they’ hit Wally-World–they’ll remember to pick up a couple gallons of CLOROX….for that MTV-inspired Gene Pool !! (and maybe some Hemlock Tea for the MTV staff !!)