Reality Bites: Buckwild
Pay no attention to the crippling poverty behind the curtain.
Young people have been behaving like insensate hooligans since the dawn of time. In fact, I'm pretty sure one of the quests in the Epic of Gilgamesh involved breaking up a teenage Mesopotamian solstice keg party.
And so it goes. Every decade or so sees its own cautionary tale of youth gone wild, from Rebel Without A Cause to Over the Edge to, well, "Youth Gone Wild." Each generation looks at the one coming up behind them and mutters, sure this time, that these kids are the worst *ever.*
Given that, I'm not really sure what the big deal is with Buckwild, MTV's new mildly shocking look at the behavior of emotionally and intellectually stunted adolescents. They may drink and fornicate and drive all-terrain vehicles through the mud (not always simultaneously), but my overhwelming takeaway was: maybe we've finally entered the realm of diminishing returns for this kind of show.
MTV helpfully provides a Jackass style cautionary intro:
Normally I'd ask why they'd bother. I'm sure MTV has enough lawyers on staff that they could sleaze up a disclaimer stating: the viewer is free to behave as moronically as they like, but Viacom is not responsible for any severed toes.
Or maybe it's no longer amusing to point and laugh at a bunch of kids who: a) aren't behaving any worse than I did as a teenager, and b) can hardly be blamed for naively seizing a rare opportunity to make some cash and possibly escape from their surroundings.
For those that want to, of course. And after a cursory viewing, that appears to apply to only one of the cast members (more on her later).
"Previously on Buckwild," some things happened. Anna (blond, enjoys low cut shirts of the 'wife beater' variety) grew angry with Tyler (looks like a dumber Colt McCoy) and Cara ("Good nutrition has given you some length of bone") for having sex in her bed. It's difficult to tell who rooms with whom, but Anna and Ashley (Ashley) work together at a tanning salon. Hey, when your state's 93 percent white, you need to get some pigment in there somehow.
Cara tells Taylor about a "hyperglow party" at Karma, the *biggest club* in Morgantown (the girls' house is in Sissonville, because that will mean something to you). Taylor's response: "Morgantown's the shit." Boy, you can really see why Cara has the hots for him.
She then relays the invite to Shae (gritting her teeth admirably), Joey (prone to sticking his finger in bug zappers) and Shain. Shain's last name is Gandee, and he may or may not have self-nicknamed himself "Gandee Candy." Why? Because, in his words, "It's trick or treat all year 'round." I'm going to assume this mean he exposes himself to children on a constant basis.
Much is made of Shain leaving "the holler" -- where he can shoot at squirrels from his front porch -- for the "big city" of Morgantown, population 29,660 (if you were curious, that -- plus students at WVU -- makes it about the size of Victoria, TX). Finally, they all pile into a couple of cars in search for quasi-urban amusement.
Sorry about the pixelation, but you get the idea.
Cara has a "treat" for the ladies: a body painter shows up to prep them for the party. Unsurprisingly, the dudes merely sit around and watch as he daubs Salwa (the ethnic one), Ashley, and Cara. From there, they go to the club, which -- music aside -- is right out of the early '90s: all black lighting and neon accents. Given the earlier references, I was actually disappointed no Hypercolor togs were on display.
Salwa and Ashley promptly take their shirts off, the better to show off their new "ink." And in spite of this thing being dubbed a "body paint party," they look like the only ones so decorated. They're also the only topless people in the club until they convince Shain to join them.
[Shain, so eager to distance himself from homosexual insinuation, is blissfully unaware he's just done just about the gayest thing you can do at a night club short of putting your penis in another man's mouth.]
Meanwhile, Shae and Jesse's "big date" that she skipped the party for consists of bowling with Jesse's best friend. Of everyone on the show, Shae is the one who seems the most miserable: looking on stoically while her peers consume mass quantities and roll around in filth. She's going nowhere with this trepanned Jay Cutler clone and she knows it.
Back at the club, Tyler picks up a girl whose boyfriend belatedly (and drunkenly) tries to block their car, and Anna returns with a guy who brings along another girl to make out with. I found myself almost fondly recalling Jersey Shore's comparatively sophisticated levels of romanticism.
But again, I'm failing to see the societal collapse here. Four-wheeling? Jumping off bridges? Getting into drunk fights on somebody's front porch? Welcome to every suburban adolescent's upbringing since 1985. I'm pretty sure a random sample of any high schooler in the United States would yield you consistently more "off the chain" party examples than what's on display here.
But that's not the point, is it? After all, aren't rural folks are the last population we can safely make fun? We point and laugh and type "SMH" on Twitter, because there's no stigma to it. The young people on Buckwild may not suffer from the worst conditions found in Appalachia, but the show still feels like picking on the only kid who still brings a lunch box to school in junior high.
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