There has been a dramatic increase in the past couple of years in the number of shows on television that fit under the category of “hicksploitation;” shows such as Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,Buckwild, and Gypsy Sisters. These three shows focus on groups of rural people in places like West Virginia or Georgia, as is typical of many of them.
Two main patterns have been identified throughout the 60 articles analyzed. The first is the use of colonial language. Words like “tribal,” “primitive,” “savage,” “traditional,” “customary,” were counted as such. The second identified pattern was the use of stereotypical characteristics or essentialized features of the certain culture. For the Maasai, words like “Maasai checks,” “warrior,” or “jumping” were used as stereotypical characteristics, while words like “tattoos,” “haka,” or “warrior” were used as stereotypical characteristics for the Maori.
Today I participated in reading buddies in Canton, where ironically enough, my fifth grade student was learning about Native Americans. She was learning about the Iroquois League, the use of the environment, some culture and the league, today. Mind you this section of the textbook took up TWO PAGES. That is it. She had to complete five questions on a worksheet about the reading. For someone that lives in an area that still has a large Native American population, that is quite sad. I then realized that the education system is one of the main ways in which these stereotypes are produced.