They emailed me. The subject line said, "documentary."
"They" were a California film company asking if I'd participate in a new Amish reality show. Hmm, I wondered, how real?
Most TV reality shows are scripted hype (with foul language), and far from factual. In truth, many of my ex-Amish pals know the young people on TLC's Breaking Amish show. No, those characters are not just now "breaking" from anything - they've been out for a while! Other reality Amish TV shows feature characters who've been English for several years; producers are simply exploiting the history of these individuals to script a show. Go ahead and watch if you want silly entertainment.
(Warning: I'm climbing up on my soapbox) The ex-Amish I've met are vulnerable and easily persuaded. Since they've been told everything to do or not do, they have immature decision-making
skills when first adjusting to the "outside." They can be persuaded to attend church or they can be given drugs and persuaded to get into a dangerous life of careless addictions. It angers me when TV producers focus only on those who are making harmful decisions and exploits their struggles to survive in the non-Amish world. Yes, I know Amish smoke, some drink, and sick stuff goes on inside the culture but, to give viewers the impression that ALL young ex-Amish constantly scream the F-bomb, use drugs and alcohol, fight, and flaunt random sexual encounters is incorrect! I know - I've witnessed - different.
So to "their" email, I replied (paraphrased), "I'm interested in participating if you won't exploit those who are leaving Amish and script it for ratings nor surround it in hype, will seek to educate viewers about this culture, and feature some of those who've earned their GED, taken jobs, married, are contributing to our society and moving forward."
Funny thing, I never heard back!
If you want a true and respectful look inside the Amish and at the struggles of those who leave, watch PBS The Amish on AMERICAN EXPERIENCE. National Geographic also aired a TV series about the Amish, which chronicled Missouri-based Mose Gingerich as he continues his adjustment to English life and also helps those who "break" Amish.
Talk to ya next week. ~Brenda
(c)Copyright 2013, Brenda Nixon.