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Fri, Mar 24, 2017 11:05 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
Real stories on Appalachia to air on KET

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Coal truck driver Herbie Adams, with filmmaker Tom Hansell, will be featured in an episode of Headwaters that focuses on coal haulers' struggle to make a living. (click for larger version)
Just when you think the insanity is over, Les Moonves of CBS strikes again. Talk about the reality show The Real Beverly Hillbillies has started up again. Moonves refuses to let the subject die. As late as last week, the CBS head was not discounting the idea that the series would be produced. If you think he is blowing hot air take, for example, the series Baby Bob. It was cancelled and when Moonves said it would be revived, everyone laughed and thought it was a joke. Nobody is laughing now as the network announced the show would be brought back for eight episodes this summer. Critics and audience alike are trying to figure out why CBS would bring back a show that was panned and didn't perform well in a choice time slot. If Moonves is refusing to say the Real Hillbillies is not going to be produced, you can bet your sweet bippy it is in the works.

On June 2, Appalshop and the Center for Rural Strategies are planning to air on KET and in 22 other states a program looking at the real rural Appalachia. Instead of focusing on the purely negative and stereotypical view of our area, the two organizations plan to show differing viewpoints of real life. In the first episode, the program will look at seven community development groups that helping small towns and rural residents improve their economies and quality of life. It is nice to see someone trying to fix problems instead of highlighting them. Once the highlights are gone, so are the camera crews and no help is brought to our area. The "Headwater" programs as they call the documentary series, highlights the positive and shows how some areas are working to "fix" the problems facing Appalachia.

Another episode will focus on Ralph Stanley, the Bluegrass legend, and gospel great Ethel Caffie Austin. Defining a musical heritage for an area too often forgotten, the program will tap into ideas that have only been brushed over.

A third program will look at a domestic violence and abuse program in West Virginia. This model community-based program will look at women and children who are being helped by the program.

Other programs focus on coal haulers who struggle to make a living while concerned citizens worry about overweight trucks and road safety, grassroots environmentalism, and challenges encountered when trying to build sustainable communities in the coalfields of eastern Kentucky and western West Virginia.

Some might say that documentaries are a waste of time. Some might say that no one listens or watch them. In this case, I think it is time for our area to stand up and take notice. These documentaries are meant to point out to us that we are not as backward or stupid as the people in more populated areas might think. The stale, worn out misconception that people in Appalachia are mentally handicapped must not be perpetuated again. These documentaries, which will air statewide in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming as well as on PBS stations in 13 other states, go a long way in showing that contrary to popular (read LA and New York) belief, we are intelligent and able to think for ourselves. We also have the sense to watch television shows that are of good quality, not the drivel that is being created today in the like of The Real Beverly Hillbillies. Perpetuating stereotypes is all CBS seems to be interested in and that is wrong in many different ways. Why degrade a whole section of society just for comedy? This area of the country has already had to endure generations of negativity and enough is enough.

Appalshop and the Center for Rural Strategies, on the other hand, have devised true reality shows that show honest, hardworking people trying to make a living. Now that is reality.

4 3/4 suns

Notes from the couch

Fame was back on the airwaves last Wednesday. Debbie Allen revamped the show and let it become a talent contest. I guess the 80's are trying to make another comeback.

Shows like CSI and Friends are becoming lonely at the top of the ratings. Joe Millionaire and Survivor are just two of the several reality shows that have begun to take over the top ten. Hopefully, this fad will die soon.

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