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
Grandpa was not a storyteller. It was only later, when Grandma wasn’t around, that he told me a few stories about his life and parents. He never talked about the hard times during the Great Depression, but he said enough to encourage me in later life to research his family history. When he died all of Grandma’s and Grandpa’s personal things, letters and photographs were given to my older cousin because she was the only granddaughter. By the time I became interested in our family history everything had been thrown away except some old photographs. I started the long and frust Read on →
I think of myself as a realist. A diehard realist. I believe I am truly a child of the Age of Reason. But can reason explain all things, unlock all mysteries? Don’t think so. My Uncle Lehman, for instance, my Aunt Mary Grace’s husband, could talk warts off. As I write this, I can see you shaking your skeptical head. Well, I didn’t believe it, either. Nor did Meredith, my first wife, who once was his “patient.” But he did it anyhow, and it couldn’t be called faith healing, for the subject’s disbelief was no deterrent to the cure. You ready for this? We go by their house one night in Read on →
About a quarter century ago, when Hercules Specialty Resins was still spewing its sulfurous emissions across the marshes of Glynn to be dissipated by mingling with the off-shore breezes, local wags dubbed the odiferous environment “the smell of money.” They may have been more right than they thought. For, within a decade, all profits had apparently gone up the chimney, even as every rain storm deposited more toxins to poison the marsh. That profitable enterprise depends to a large extent on avoiding waste is a lesson the new owners of Pinova seem to appreciate. On the other side of town, the Read on →
It is a fact that if you’re a kid growing up in America in the Fifties and Sixties, the last day of school is better than Christmas! You’re free, unfettered and unchained. Nothing but blue skies ahead …at least for three months, which is ‘till eternity’ in Kid Standard Time. For the next three glorious months, you’re not required to study, sit still, do homework, do book reports, memorize, read, recite, remember or do anything remotely enlightening. No worries about spelling tests, essays, reading exams, arithmetic quizzes, IQ tests or the Mother Magilla of all tests, the Iowa Basic Skills Test which supposedly Read on →