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'Hillbilly' show wrong to exploit stereotypes

March 6, 2003

Staff editorial

Take an ordinary family living in rural America, put them in a mansion in Beverly Hills and film their reactions to new-found wealth and what do you get? In the minds of CBS executives, a surefire 'reality' television hit. In the minds of rural Americans, the result of CBS's plan is discrimination.

CBS executive Les Moonves wants to recreate the station's popular 1960s sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies by moving a Southern, multigenerational family, preferably from Appalachia, to Beverly Hills for a year.

One flier distributed throughout Kentucky offered as much as a $500,000 reward to a family made up of 'parents in their 40s with children ages 17 to 25. Grandparents and other kin invited.'

The flier, along with Moonves' decision to search for families for the show, has incited picketers, protesters and even a high school letter-writing campaign. People in the Appalachia area are tired of being depicted as poor and uneducated, the Los Angeles Times reports.

One senator, Zell Miller, D-Georgia, has expressed his fury over the potential show. The self-proclaimed 'hillbilly' told the Senate the show promoted 'bigotry, pure and simple.'

The Lariat feels that CBS's plan is discriminatory and only increases the negative stereotype of Appalachian families as poor 'hillbillies' with little education. The family CBS executives hope to portray is an immense exaggeration of many actual families living in rural America.

Inciting laughs and entertainment at the expense of a stereotype is wrong and generally would be frowned upon. The show will only remove a family from a lifestyle they've never known to be wrong and point out all of their flaws. The show will take these Americans and give them wealth for a year, then take it all away, just for entertainment's sake.

The Lariat believes the proposed show is simply a bad idea and just another ridiculous addition to the slew of reality television shows.