Reality television isn’t known for its high class or morality, but even the lowest form of TV is stepping out of bounds.
Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia spent a good portion of Tuesday lambasting CBS and its president Leslie Moonves for planning a reality series based on the classic sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies by recruiting “rural” Americans to live in L.A. and have their adjustments taped.
Miller claims that CBS is pursuing “bigotry for bucks” by exposing one of the few stereotypes in America that can still be ridiculed without recourse. Miller is right, and if CBS does develop the show, people from this area of the country, Mississippi, could be subject to the inside joke of an entire viewing nation.
If a network were to pursue a “fish out of water” reality show with Hispanic immigrants or African Americans in the inner cities, civil rights organizations would have a field day. But “hillbillies,” or “rural residents,” are primarily white and not classified as minorities.
But given the national view on southern culture, taking “poor hicks” from the southern area of the United States and exploiting their features is the same as stereotyping any minority.
If the show is developed and broadcast, southern America should not take it lightly. In an age of continuous refashioning of our image, the South doesn’t need to subject itself to low-brow laughs because of our residents’ accents and income. There are poor and “funny-sounding” people in every area of this country, so maybe CBS could look elsewhere.
CBS is looking for a new, quick comedy, something that will keep viewers tuning in, and nothing’s better than exploiting those who are unaware that they’re the joke.
The problem with this joke is that rural Americans are no different than any other minority or majority in this country and deserve to be treated with the same respect.
University Wire — University of Mississippi