We are non-commercial, all volunteer and supported by our readers. Please help sustain the Dew by making a donation.
Rise in TV “hixploitation”
There has been a rise in “hixploitation,” or hick exploitation, on television in recent years with shows like “Call of the Wildman,” “Hillbilly Handfishin'” and “Swamp People” flooding the airwaves and becoming hit reality TV shows. The protagonists seem proud of their new-found fame, like Turtleman (aka Ernie Brown Jr.) of Lebanon, Ky., star of “Call of the Wildman.” But as Matt Frassica of The Courier-Journal in Louisville reports, the compulsion to watch such shows is not very clear.
Karen L. Cox, a history professor at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, told Frassica it’s still socially acceptable to regard the South as different from the rest of the U.S. and poke fun at the region. “The reality shows trade in stereotypes. You roll your eyes and think, ‘How do we move beyond that?'” Cox said. Others, like the author of “Reality TV: The Work of Being Watched,” play on a longing for “agrarian nostalgia,” Mark Andrejevic told Frassica. He also said these shows may be seeing an increase in audience due to extreme economic uncertainty. Indiana University associate professor of gender studies Brenda Weber said the shows are not about looking down on people and making fun of them: “These reality shows are more concerned with the personal challenge of overcoming adversity. All of them take away their character’s civilized comforts and test their abilities as outdoorsmen and women.”
That resembles the view voiced by MTV’s programming director, David Janollari, about the station’s new docu-series called “Buck Wild.” Michael Schneider of TV Guide reports the series focuses on recent high school graduates living in West Virginia from “across the socio-economic strata – from the more well-off kids living ‘up in the hills’ to the working-class kids down ‘in the holler.'” Janollari insists the show will not be ridiculing the graduates: “the show is so wholeheartedly not making fun of these kids.” Rather, the station seems to be taking an approach more like Diane Sawyer’s “Children of the Mountains” on ABC’s “20/20″ almost three years ago. Said Janollari: “Historically, we’ve had great success at MTV diving into unique and unexplored youth cultures.”
UPDATE: Another article concerning television “hixploitation” has surfaced, this time focusing on whether or not showcasing illegal activities is in fact legal. John Jurgensen of The Wall Street Journal reports the Discovery Channel is trying to cash in on the odd jobs reality show craze with shows like “Weed Wars” and “Moonshiners,” about California medical marijuana dispensaries and Appalachians making corn liquor, respectively. Jurgensen reports: “Reality TV’s exploration of the subcultures of work, especially the macho variety, is an effort to rope in coveted male viewers who might have a voyeuristic curiosity about Gulf Coast fishermen (History Channel’s ‘Big Shrimpin”), boar hunters (A&E’s ‘Lady Hoggers’) or Texas oil workers (TruTV’s ‘Black Gold’).”
- Editor's Note: This article was originally published November 29, 2011, at The Rural Blog. Photo licensed by LikeTheDew.com from iStock.com © gremlin.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
No, no, not that kind of ED, which always seems to feature one of those slightly discomforting situations where you see the happy afterglow of couples strolling hand in hand and smiling lovingly, presumably after the little blue pill has worked its magic. The kind of ED I’m talking about is entirely different. This ED is the nineteenth-century Belle of Amherst, the reclusive poet in white named Emily, and her ties with a fellow writer named Henry. I’ve just finished two classes featuring a rather eccentric novelist, playwright, and essayist and an equally eccentric poet. I am a tad saddened to see Read on →
My friend Hugh Wilson once described the Atlanta Steeplechase as an event where a large crowd of well-dressed people stand in a pasture and get drunk while horses jump over bushes. The Atlanta Steeplechase celebrated its 50th anniversary this past weekend. A lot of people dressed up in clothes they probably wouldn’t wear to work or church, women wore fancy hats, the good china came out for elaborate tailgating, alcohol was consumed in abundance, and there was some pretty darn exciting horse racing. There were also terrier races, a demonstration by some really cool bird dogs, and camel riding for the kids. ( Read on →
I have a young friend named Gus. He is in second grade at school, just starting out in life, and doesn’t hold back in letting us know what he is thinking. I have another friend named Gus who is ninety-four and confined to bed in a nursing home. He has dementia, so we don’t know what he is thinking, but he responds with a smile when someone talks to him. My older friend Gus hasn’t met the younger Gus and doesn’t know who I am anymore. When I telephone the nursing home to ask if he needs anything the nurses are rel Read on →
There may be treasures in your attic or in some seldom-visited closet. You can never tell. We stumbled upon quite a treasure the other day, something we did not know was there. It was a large-format book, in a box of textbooks and other literature, probably from one of our children. Going through this box to help re-stock our Little Free Library, here was this older book with 86 stunning black-and-white photographs. The book was titled Say Is This The U.S.A. and the authors were Novelist Erskine Caldwell (born in Moreland, Ga.) and Margaret Bourke-White, the famous photographer. My initial question was why Read on →