CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On Dec. 2, Elizabeth Gaucher's commentary about the new MTV show "Buckwild" was headlined "real laughs, real life, and real needs." I suppose one out of three isn't bad, but what is happening is anything but funny or real.
Lest I immediately be labeled a stick in the mud, let me remind you, this is a TV show. It's not a documentary, the cameras aren't hidden, and these kids are getting paid to amp it up for television.
As I sat at the Cold Spot one evening this past summer enjoying some wings and beer with my best friend, we were doing REAL "real life" -- after a few long days of work, we were eating hot wings that made our eyes water, drinking beer, laughing it up about the past -- well, some of it -- and predicting the future.
Imagine my surprise when in walks a camera crew, light and sound men, producer, director, and staff keeping the pathways clear, and then enter the stars of the production. One of the cast, checking her make-up, hair, doing a test with the crew for lighting -- nope, not quite right, let's put that light a little more left -- OK, that's better.
After a good 20 minutes of prep and set-up, they were ready to film. Film what? The fight. The past relationship, the sex, the girl who called - WAIT! Hang on, problem with that light and move the boom mic closer please? OK, can you guys go back a few and repeat that last bit?
This isn't real, and it isn't funny. These kids are not "practicing adult relationships, and finding their way through the necessary developmental tasks of adolescence," as Ms. Gaucher very wordily described such melodrama. They may be doing that in their own real life, but when the cameras are rolling, they are getting paid, and they are working at what the show wants to air - extreme, over the top, and anything but real life.
My frustration is Ms. Gaucher's ability to throw off the concern about our state's image and the effects this show will have. "I don't think we need to be concerned about that," says Ms. Gaucher. "Anyone can see this is an exaggerated profile of one group of young people, solely for entertainment purposes."
Anyone can see that?