Wednesday, May 15, 2013

More "hicksploitation," this time out of Louisiana

Campbell Robertson reports today for the New York Times under the headline, "Seeking Fame in the Bayou?  Get Real." The "real" is a reference to reality TV. A number of shows of that genre are based on and filmed in Louisiana:
In the past few years, there have been shows about Louisiana alligator trappers, exterminators, sheriffs, prisoners, brides, shrimpers, nutria hunters, mixed martial arts fighters, garbage collectors, “bad girls,” overnight millionaires, run-of-the-mill rednecks and pawnshop owners (about whom there are multiple shows). There are more shows on the way, prompting the question of whether there actually are any interesting people left in Louisiana.
In relation to that, Robertson quotes an A & E executive:
There’s more material to be found in Louisiana; it’s just going to be harder to find.
My other favorite quote is the story's lede, and it takes us back to Honey Boo Boo.  It, too, is from one involved in the business, the head of Hollywood South casting, James Bearb, who is also a Louisiana native.
If I had a dollar every time they asked me for the next Honey Boo Boo Child, I swear I would be the next millionaire.
In other words, everyone wants the opportunity to be a voyeur of rural others.

Read more commentary on hicksploitation here and on Honey Boo Boo in particular, here.


Patricija said...
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Patricija said...

Since I wrote the in defense of Honey Boo Boo blog, it only seems right that I comment on this post. Again I take issue with the statement: it makes us wonder, "whether there actually are any interesting people left in Louisiana." I think this is just as harmful of rhetoric. Why is there a need to judge the very people you believe are being exploited? I think one needs to tread a fine line to not push our own stereotypes when we criticize the media business, or it is easy to fall into the trap of offending the people we would like to protect. It is not the people or their occupations per say that are the problem, it is the way these people are framed, advertised, and molded by the television business to be laughed at (as Imron pointed out in a previous comment). Further, I think some of this shows could serve a positive purpose. Afterall, they expose urban individuals to at least SOME contact with rural life. While I think perhaps there should be more diversity of rural individuals that are represented, I think everyone's main quibble is how commodification of people through reality television heightens and profits off of already pervasive stereotypes - and this is true for all reality tv, not just those pertaining to "rural."