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'Most unfortunate': Locals react to first look at MTV's 'Buckwild'

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Arriving just in time for the holiday season, the trailer for MTV's "Buckwild" is now out, and in January, the show will fill the timeslot of the soon-to-end "Jersey Shore."

Shot on location in and around Sissonville, the show follows a group of young West Virginians doing what they like to do.

What the cast of "Buckwild" likes to do, apparently, is drink, drive recklessly, go swimming in the back of a dump truck, get into fights and literally roll around in the mud.

At least, that's some of what happens in the two-minute trailer available online.

Alisa Bailey, president and CEO of the Charleston Convention and Visitor's Bureau, sounded slightly winded after viewing the trailer.

"Wow," she said. "That's just most unfortunate."

Bailey said these kinds of reality shows tend to sensationalize and exaggerate, and she hoped people watching "Buckwild" at home will see it not as how West Virginians really live.

"Obviously, the show is just perpetuating a stereotype West Virginia has been working hard to shed ourselves of," she said. "Unfortunately, a show of this nature, if it becomes popular, will make it very hard to sell the state of West Virginia or the city of Charleston."

Early on, the West Virginia Film Office, which can offer tax credits of up to 31 percent to film and television productions in the state, denied the credits over concerns about negative portrayals of state residents.

Pam Haynes, director of the film office, told the Gazette in 2011, "The legislation is clear that a production company can't participate in the program if it shows West Virginia in a derogatory manner."

Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper said he found the trailer shocking and not representative of the people who live in the county and state.

"They're unfortunately pushing a stereotype I think most people [in West Virginia] will resent, but this is America. You can put that kind of garbage on television."

Reception of the trailer outside of public officials is mixed. Several Sissonville residents, past and present, said they were disappointed by what they saw.

Karla Koontz-Moyer, a Sissonville native who now lives in Florida, said the trailer disgusted her.

"It's embarrassing," she said.

A mother of two, who returns home occasionally to visit family, she said she hated that the show has anything to do with the Wolfpen area.

"My grandfather was born and raised there," she said. "Thank God, he's not around to see this."

Reid Pierce said he didn't think much of the trailer for the show and acknowledged it certainly didn't put West Virginia in a positive light, but conceded that some of what's going to be featured on the show isn't rare.

The 27-year-old said he and his friends have done crazy stuff, too.

"But these aren't the kind of things you'd want to do in front of a camera crew." 

Price said "Buckwild" is going to reinforce the worst stereotypes about being a young person from West Virginia.

"It makes it look like all we want to do is party and drink, that we're dumb, trashy rednecks and that's not what West Virginia is about," he said, then added he wouldn't be watching when the show begins in January.

"I hope it gets canceled after the first episode, and we can all put this behind us."

Not everyone agrees. Friends of some of the cast members have been very supportive of the show.

Zack Salisbury has known Shae Bradley, who is described in her MTV bio as a "Spicy Southern Belle," since the two were students at John Adams Middle School. The 21-year-old said he was looking forward to seeing the show.

"I'm going to enjoy the show," he said. "I'm sure everybody is. It's going to be wild, just like the title."

Salisbury didn't think the show portrayed West Virginia in a negative light and that watching some younger people cut loose wasn't bad for the state.

"People need to see a good, fun side of West Virginia, and I think the show also shows a loving side of West Virginia. They have their ups and downs, but I think it's more up."

He said if he'd been given the chance, he would have participated in the show. From his experiences, it's pretty accurate of the lifestyle for people he knows.

"It sure is. I've seen it."

The lifestyle can get pretty wild.

Kanawha County Sheriff Mike Rutherford said he recalled some incidents back when the show was filming.

"Nothing serious," he said. "Some complaints of vehicles driving erratically, some partying..."

However, cast member Salwa Amin, described by MTV as living at home with strict parents and the first one at the party whenever she's able to slip away, ran into trouble in July when she was arrested for disorderly conduct after she was observed screaming and yelling at a man walking into the Vista View Apartments at 4 a.m.

The charges were later dismissed.

It's not yet known whether that incident will feature in any way on the show.

"Buckwild" begins Jan. 3, and whether or not it becomes the next "Jersey Shore," Bailey said things would continue on much as they have before MTV ever set foot in Kanawha County.

"We're just going to keep on doing what we have been doing and try to show people what the real Charleston is."

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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