Here we go again. In December 2009, MTV’s launch of Jersey Shore, about a group of party-loving young Italian Americans, drew the ire of Italian American organizations and legislators who mounted a campaign against the show. Sen. Joseph F. Vitale, chairman of the New Jersey Italian American Legislative Caucus, and Richard Bilotti, chairman of the New Jersey Italian and Italian American Heritage Commission, sent a letter to MTV parent company Viacom asking them to cancel the show for its “offensive, inaccurate” portrayal of Italian-Americans. “Jersey Shore is a fabrication created by MTV Networks and marketed to represent reality,” the letter says. “This is a far cry from a documentary of a naturally occurring subculture existing in New Jersey.”
Now history seems to be repeating itself with MTV’s upcoming reality series Buckwild, about a group of thrill-seeking twentysomethings in a small West Virginia town, which has been dubbed “The Jersey Shore Of Appalachia” and “Hillbillies Gone Wild” (watch trailer below). MTV has already anointed it a successor to departing hit Jersey Shore by scheduling it in Jersey Shore‘s Thursday 10 PM slot and has been using the same type of provocative promo campaign that it used for Jersey Shore three years ago, perhaps hoping to spark controversy again for extra publicity. As a result, the network is getting a similar reaction from legislators. Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) today sent a letter to MTV President Stephen Friedman asking that the network “put a stop to the travesty called Buckwild.... Instead of showcasing the beauty of our people and our state, you preyed on young people, coaxed them into displaying shameful behavior — and now you are profiting from it. That is just wrong.”
Just as it did three years ago with Jersey Shore, MTV is keeping mum, not commenting on the controversy surrounding Buckwild, anticipating that lightning will strike twice and a pre-launch backlash will turn into ratings gold.