Friday, March 1, 2013

Bacon and Buckwild

One of the (many) things I like about West Virginia is its small size. Over my lifetime, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to meet lots of fellow West Virginians from all over the state. It is as if we natives are all part of an extended community, and if given enough time, initial strangers—even if from different parts of the state—can eventually come up with some contacts they have in common. The “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game (based on the "six degrees of separation" concept—the mathematical premise that any two people on Earth are, on average, about six acquaintance links apart) is easy to play among citizens of our state.

Speaking of the Kevin Bacon game, the entertainment industry has not always been nice to our wonderful state. When we hear Hollywood is going to mention us in one of their stories, West Virginians get worried. We don’t like to be stereotyped as dumb hillbillies (or worse). This is why many of us were apprehensive when we heard that MTV was replacing “Jersey Shore” with “Buckwild,” a similar show based in West Virginia.

I must admit, when I heard about the premise of this show, I was very skeptical of how my beloved state would be treated. I had checked out a few episodes of “Jersey Shore” so I had a sense about what “Buckwild” might be like, and I was concerned. I decided to watch it so I could monitor the damage they might do to our reputation, and react if I felt it necessary. [I can be as adamant as the late A. James Manchin used to be if I feel my home state has been dishonored!]

“Buckwild” is never going to be considered as quality television in my eyes, nor by probably anyone else in my age range. However, we are not the targeted demographic group for this mess of a show. Thus, I was not watching to determine if it was going to be good, or to determine whether or not situations are contrived for the cameras (I’m sure they are). It is junk TV—but apparently that is popular with younger generations (I wish they preferred PBS). So I was not watching it as a critic, but merely as a self-appointed monitor.

The good news is that I don’t think our state’s reputation was damaged that much by this show, so I didn’t need to start any protests at MTV headquarters. I don’t condone all the behavior shown on “Buckwild,” but it apparently reflects today’s youth throughout the USA. At least MTV filmed a lot of scenic shots around our beautiful state. It was neat to see many familiar locations on a national television show—Fort Hill, Woodburn Circle, Cathedral Falls, etc.

I must admit that I’ve done a lot of these same activities these young people were doing—4 wheeling, mudding, potato guns, rope swings, and jumping off a bridge into a swimming hole, etc. I’ve never rolled down a hill in a tractor tire, but I have fond memories of strapping on my dad’s old racing helmet and rolling down the back hill in an empty barrel. Although I didn’t have access to a dump truck, I thought using it to make a swimming pool was a great idea. The show proved that you don’t have to live at the beach to have fun—you just need to be creative.

By the way, I mentioned earlier about the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game. I recently discovered that I have merely a two-degree separation from Katie Saria, one of the stars of “Buckwild.” It turns out that one of my high school classmates now lives in the Charleston area, and Katie is her daughter. West Virginia is indeed a small world—and I love it!

This is Katie Saria from Buckwild (her mom shared this picture with me). The MTV website describes her this way: "A well-rounded college girl, Katie loves to spend her free time away from school, back with her friends in Sissonville."

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