The Rise and Rise of Redneck TV
I don’t watch a lot of television these days. There was a time when I watched an unnatural amount of television but that was when I was a kid with an animation addiction. As mentioned in The Rugby Blanket, televised sport was my ‘methodone’ but now even watching the footy is a non-runner. So what came next? Well as the kids came along my television watching habits became fairly lean. The odd movie or television show in the late evening had become the norm. I’d put this down to a few things:
- Distraction – by other forms of media. Online newspapers, tablets and iPhones provide the moments of distraction that now fit a busy lifestyle. Televisions don’t fit in your backpack (well not my one anyway).
- Television on Demand – Between Netflix and Sky+ recording, absolutely nothing is missed. You don’t have to be in your front room every Monday evening five minutes before your favourite show starts.
- The Social Networks – We don’t buy into the TV Guide/Listener/RTE Guide subscriptions like we used to. This means we often follow what’s trending. It is these trends that often start us off on a new television series. It’s more common than the TV reviewers or the word of an acquaintance. Slow starters like Breaking Bad, The Wire and now Love/Hate benefited hugely from propagation through the social networks. It really is a ‘wildfire’ principle that creates these audiences. I can’t help but go onto Twitter during the ad breaks of Love/Hate and read the laugh out loud running commentary. Priceless.
- Kids – They now control the television. Hazel wants The Regular Show, Zoe wants Art Attack and Darcy wants Peppa Pig. And Daddy wants ‘anything else please’. How do you do that with one or even two televisions?
The movie watching has dried up now and it’s just highly recommended TV shows and the odd documentary that get a look in. Occasionally I do experience what I can only describe as ‘tele-noise’. This is where you are busy chopping away at carrots and peeling spuds and in the background one of the documentary channels warrants a glance or two. I have a soft spot for the space documentaries and the car related shows but I could watch any documentary and glean something from it. During this ‘tele-noise’ I have noticed more and more shows about folks in the American South. Some of them I could describe as rednecks, hillbillies, banjo’s and so on. And without trying to be derogatory, some of these shows have these very terms in their titles.
When you think about reality TV and how it has changed TV in general you only have to look at the MTV related stuff to see this evolution in action. To be honest I think it all started with Robin Leach and his Lifestyle’s of the Rich and Famous show. This was everybody’s first glimpse of celebrity culture. On MTV we then had an updated twist with Crib’s where the stars themselves showed people around their palatial homes. But it didn’t stop there. People wanted to know what the Osborne’s were doing and what the Kardashian’s were doing and then it was what rich housewives were up to. Eventually though apathy grows toward excessive celebrity culture. So then we want to see how the blue collars do things. Surely they really know how to have fun? Jersey/Geordie Shore are born and everyone sees that the common (really emphasise the ‘common’ here) man can become a celebrity also.
Over on the documentary channels we see that while it started with people who know how to survive the wilderness, the attention is now turned to those who live in the wilderness(or not far from it) themselves. Duck Dynasty is a good example. It’s the story of a poor family come good. I’m not sure of the exact story but it probably goes like this: Years ago cousin Jebediah was whittling away at a branch when he created a duck caller by mistake. Well he whittled through the night and all the next day and eventually made millions from duck callers. But this family, the Robertson’s, still try and live life simple. Go get some catfish, make duck callers, go get some crawfish, make duck callers, eat a slice of bullfrog lasagne, make some duck callers, shoot something that moves, make some duck callers, eat, pray (or is that pray and then eat?). This seems to be the new craze in reality TV. I’m going to reel off just some of the names of the selection of shows that viewers have cottoned on to: Bayou Billionaires, Moonshiners, Ladyhoggers, Rocket City Rednecks, Swamp People, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, My Big Redneck Wedding and Redneck Island!!?! Holy hogget that’s a few shows right there.
So what show will I watch next? It has to be something with a bit of style. Perhaps a documentary show which features a hobby close to my heart. I think I’m gonna watch me some Hillbilly Handfishin’.