Man, does MTV ever have a messy situation on their hands with their reality series Buckwild. You may remember the initial controversy when West Virginia Senator Joe Manchi demanded that MTV cancel the series to avoid "ugly, inaccurate stereotypes about the people of West Virginia," and the show came under fire again in February when cast member Salwa Amin was arrested for dealing heroin and oxycodone. Now, shockingly, 21-year-old Buckwild star Shain Gandee was found dead in his truck with two others on Sunday morning.
The vehicle and bodies were found by one of Shain's friends who had been searching for him since he went missing over the weekend. No foul play is suspected, but with this latest tragedy, there's a fresh wave of demand for MTV to pull the plug on the show.
Shain, his 48-year-old uncle David Gandee, and Donald Robert Meyers, 27, all of nearby Sissonville, West Virginia, were last seen at a bar around 3 AM on Sunday. They told friends they were going "muddin" -- four-wheeling -- in Shain's Bronco, but something clearly went horribly wrong. There are no official causes of death yet, but it's theorized that the men died from carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of the truck's tailpipe being submerged in mud.
MTV has suspended filming with no word on when it might resume, but there's an increasing call for the network to cancel this series altogether. The mayor of Charleston, West Virginia, where Buckwild is filmed, told TMZ he wants the show off the air:
Of the few cast members on the show, already two have had legal issues, and now one has died. The show only enhances the negative stereotype the Kanawha Valley already has. I hope the show’s life is short.
A quick search of Twitter shows sympathy for Shain's death, but also plenty of criticism for the show. Even onetime Buckwild fans are starting to call for a cancellation, either because it won't be the same without Shain, or because the network will be profiting from his death.
Hollywood talent agent Alec Shankman told Fox News that MTV may very well be in the midst of rethinking the show due to the public backlash:
The show is a slice-of-life show documenting kids doing what they would likely otherwise be doing, so I don’t necessarily think the network is encouraging new or different behavior. But it’s safe to say that this type of outrageous behavior has likely helped with ratings for this show and others like it. Reality TV doesn’t cause people to act recklessly, but it can often put a spotlight on folks who were already perhaps over-the-top to begin with.
At the end of the day, it'll likely come down to what the advertisers decide. If bad PR makes it difficult for MTV to sell ads, that's what's really going to influence programming decisions.
From a personal perspective, I think the right move for MTV would be to cancel the series. I know controversial reality shows are pretty much their bread and butter, but we seem to be crossing a line lately. The over-the-top behavior that made for captivating television has led to addiction, arrests, parents losing custody of their children, and now, someone dying at just 21 years old. Whether or not these things would have happened even if cameras weren't rolling, they shouldn't be turned into public entertainment.
What do you think about this latest Buckwild news? Do you think the show should go?
Image via MTV