Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

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February 18, 2013

Dwain Walden: Reality shows — Behind the scenes

Moultrie — I’m probably way too critical when it comes to watching “reality” shows. I know it’s just entertainment, and I have the choice not to watch them. But given the options (football is over and baseball hasn’t begun) I sometimes I go into default mode.

Last night I watched some guys digging for gold. I’ve yet to see one of these shows where the machinery isn’t screwing up. A track comes off a bulldozer or a fuel pump must be replaced, and it’s a hundred miles to the nearest fuel pump store. The narrator is describing what a predicament these guys are in and how two more weeks of unproductive mining will greatly alter their lifestyles. Their kids won’t have shoes for school, mama won’t get her implants and they’ll have to hitch a ride to the grocery store.

I’m thinking, why don’t you try getting a real job? It’s not like we’re still on a gold standard. We are on a plastic standard.

The same goes for those gator killers in the Louisiana bayou. If they never kill another gator, it won’t affect my life one way or another. I don’t wear expensive shoes, and it’s been 15 years since I ate gator tail.

So here comes old Liz and she runs out of gas on the hottest day of the year. She and her girlfriend are trying to keep the dead gators cooled off by dipping water over them. They wait for someone to come along and give them some gas. Meanwhile the camera crew is 50 feet away. Like I said, sometimes I may be way too critical.

But let’s face it. If I’m going out into the swamp and hunt something that can bite my leg off, then I’m going to have a checklist. It will include such things as making sure I have bullets for my gun, that there’s a bottom in the boat and that I have plenty of gas for my motor. This is not a 747 airliner we’re talking about. The checklist could be written in the palm of your hand or on your sleeve where the producer has written your lines, which in one form or another always translate to, “Whoa he’s a mean one!”

Then we have the survivor guy squeezing into a tight entrance to a cave. Think about this. We viewers are seeing him from the inside of the cave out. That means the camera crew is already in the cave filming him struggling to get in and making sure that none of the McDonald wrappers show up on camera.

Next comes the people who bid on storage bins. So when’s the last time you heard of someone buying a storage bin and finding a 1963 Corvette hidden under a stack of cardboard boxes filled with Wayne Newton tapes? Of course, some of the bins have to be nothing but Wayne Newton tapes to make it look good.

And talk about trials and tribulations, those poor moonshiners just can’t keep their stills from leaking steam. Given the years these guys are purported to have done this, you would think they would have mastered the practice of turning mash into steam and condensing it into white lightning. And who would want to play the lawman in this series? He never gets to win.

I really get a kick out of that show when they have a board meeting to discuss the future of their industry. The producers have to choose actors who can’t be confused with a panel of Phi Beta Kappas. And apparently there’s no problem completing that task either.

But like I said, football is over for the  year, baseball hasn’t begun, and I’ve seen all the Andy Griffith reruns several times each. And I realize that if the television industry just showed us scenes of ordinary people doing ordinary stuff, we probably wouldn’t watch.

  And there is socially redeeming value in seeing these presentations. One is that we can be thankful that we were not born a Kardashian.

Dwain Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer, 985-4545. Email:

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