CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Q: What's the West Virginia state flower?
A: Satellite dish.
I've lived out of state long enough to have heard that joke many times. Is it funny? It is a mild jab at the folks who live in very mountainous, often remote places and stick up those ubiquitous dishes to pull in their favorite TV programs. So I can laugh along.
I'm pretty sure child advocate Elizabeth Gaucher and I have different senses of humor. In her Dec. 2 Gazette-Mail op-ed, she says she chuckled a few times when watching the trailer for "Buckwild," MTV's replacement series for "Jersey Shore," which depicts Kanawha County 20-somethings.
"Buckwild" serves only to agitate me. I grew up in West Virginia, and if she did, too, she knows that Mountain Staters are so accustomed to being ridiculed, we've developed pretty thick skins. You can call me a hillbilly and I really won't care. But don't think for a minute that I'll accept televised trash as "funny," or that I'll stand for a production company profiteering while encouraging viewers to snicker at the rude antics of the "stars."
The show's exploitation of young, vulnerable West Virginians is a point she made so well in her op-ed, and with that, I agree.
The way I see it, J.P. Williams of Parallel Entertainment -- a West Virginia native himself -- has strip-mined us for a few bucks. Williams makes a living creating "blue-collar comedy," which has now morphed into a suddenly hot entertainment trend called "redneck reality." And Zoo Productions, which partners with Parallel to bring us the lowbrow behavior of a handful of kids, is behind shows including "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader?"
Have I ever laughed at Jeff Foxworthy? You bet. But I don't think "Buckwild" is laugh-worthy, or even air-worthy. It's slated to debut Jan. 3.
To that end, I welcome everyone to contact MTV, Parallel Entertainment, Zoo Productions and "Buckwild's" producers and let them know how you feel about West Virginia's young shown mud-slinging, foulmouthed, hard-drinking and sometimes half-dressed. If you use social media, you can tweet executive producer @BarryPoznick and MTV's senior publicist @CandiceAshton. The production company is @ZOOPRODUCTIONS. You can also share your thoughts on Twitter using the hashtag #boycottbuckwild.
I encourage readers to join the positive conversation about West Virginia on Facebook, DefendWestVirginia, and on Twitter, @DefendWV.
Tuohey, of Syracuse, N.Y., is a former reporter for WSAZ-TV and is Web content manager at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.