Ben “Cooter” Jones Pens Open Letter to CMT Over “Party Down South”
CMT Whores Itself with New “Party Down South” Show
Now Ben “Cooter” Jones has crafted an open letter to CMT and its parent company Viacom, calling the show the “most offensive and sleaziest thing ever to make it to a national audience.” Read the letter in its entirety below.
AN OPEN LETTER TO VIACOM INC. AND THE COUNTRY MUSIC TELEVISION NETWORK (CMT)
To Whom It May Concern:
Your company Viacom, under the aegis of CMT (a network in the MTV group) is committing an act of what can only be called “cultural pornography” by airing a production entitled “Party Down South”. It is a so-called “reality show” in which a group of young men and women who call themselves “proud Southerners” do things which no one, Southern or otherwise, could possibly be “proud” of.
In one episode we are informed by your advance press that the characters will urinate on themselves and then upon each other. (We are also informed that we can get a raunchier version on an “app”.) May we assume that your Executive Chairman, Mr. Sumner Redstone and that your President and CEO, Mr. Phillipe P. Dauman have screened this show and fully approve of its content?
Well, I suppose not, since yours is a corporation with over $22 billion in assets, and those big-shots are probably too busy to sit around watching drunken louts urinating on each other, huh? But you have invested quite a bit in this vile travesty of a “show”, since CMT has ordered ten episodes of this slimy creature and has spent another fortune promoting it.
And so I have a bone to pick with you. I have several reasons to detest this show, which is without a doubt the most offensive and sleaziest thing ever to make it to a national audience already neck-deep in offensive sleaze, much of it courtesy of your corporation.
My objections are to some extent personal. For starters, I have been a part of the “Dukes of Hazzard” since 1979. As you know, “The Dukes” has been a continuing hit, a beloved part of Americana which has brought great attention to CMT with its extraordinary cable ratings. The reason “The Dukes of Hazzard” has been a solid franchise for 35 years is that it is family show in the best sense of that phrase. It is a show the whole family can enjoy together without worrying about what the kids are going to see and hear. It is like the old “B” westerns of Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, when the good guys always did the right thing, and the bad guys got their comeuppance, and there was great action and comedy and music, and nobody ever really got hurt. Our show used cars instead of horses, and the Duke boys became heroes to several generations of folks in the American Heartland and everywhere else for that matter. I was the trusty sidekick “Cooter” and the affection that people feel for that show is as much an honor to me as having been twice elected to Congress.
So when CMT started airing some truly execrable commercials for “Party Down South” during the showing of “The Dukes”, I and thousands of other viewers were appalled. I know from 35 years of daily contact with our fans that there were countless young kids watching our show and therefore being exposed to these really trashy commercials. So we complained “en masse”. But apparently your company could care less about the concerns of your audience. You have not ever acknowledged the problem and have continued to show the smut.
I am also offended by your portrayal of the South. Hollywood’s depiction of the South has famously been the stuff of scores of books, articles, and dissertations. We in the Southland are
accustomed to being mocked, stereotyped and accused of all sorts of decadence and hatreds. The South has become a convenient whipping boy for the sins of the entire United States. But since we don’t produce the films and the television shows, your false version of us becomes the “accepted truth.”
“Party Down South” is a show about 4 men and 4 women who are obviously being told by these Hollywood/New York producers to drink as much booze as possible and then to do the most banal and boorish things conceivable. And these morons succeed at depraved acts that would have made the Marquis DeSade blush.
Idiotic alcoholic behavior exists all over the world. It is not to be celebrated. We can only hope that one of these “Party Down South” bozos doesn’t kill somebody while driving in a blackout. It happens somewhere every night in America. That’s the real “reality.”
So Viacom, you are robbing young kids of innocence with your commercials. You are insulting the South without a clue of the richness and diversity of our many Southern cultures, and you are glorifying drunken debauched behavior for no reason except that old bottom line. Oh yes, and you are doing it on the Country Music Television network which was built by appealing to rural heartland viewers with a sense of tradition and genuine values. What’s up with that?
When the standards of programming are relentlessly lowered until the unacceptable becomes acceptable, what then? For it has already happened. “Party Down South” is Exhibit A. But what comes next? How do we stop this social corrosion and the degrading of mores? Shouldn’t that be of great concern to those in control of our national media? Can’t you say more than “If you don’t like it, turn the channel?”
Do y’all understand why we are upset? Do you care? Is anybody home? I fear I know the answer to those questions.
January 29, 2014 @ 4:33 pm
God bless him.
TX Music Jim
January 29, 2014 @ 4:49 pm
It won’t matter but maybe the ratings will stink and it will go away all on it’s own. however, Colt Ford sells Cd’s and downloads and Jersey Shore was a big hit so people apparently love crap.Ol’ Cooder seems like quite the well spoken gentleman. Come to Texas and run for congress I’ll vote for you. We need some new blood with integrity.
January 29, 2014 @ 5:45 pm
I could argue that a parent has the option of blocking certain types of content on most payed for TV services. The only flaw here is that if you did have adult content blocked, your kids would still see the commercials when watching family rated shows like Reba and Dukes on CMT.
The second option would be where a parent could go with the Air HDTV, a Tivo Box and a Netflix (or other) subscription service. A lot of people are doing this anyway as it is a very cheap alternative to going with a cable like provider.
The third option would be a massive push for ‘a la carte’ pay TV where people would only pay for the channels they want to have on an individual basis and gain the ability to unsubscribe from channels like CMT individually. I think that would take direct government involvement to get done though. It would be so nice if this was possible.
January 29, 2014 @ 5:49 pm
I commend Ben for speaking out. I doubt if anything will change for the fact that the ship has already sailed years ago on television whoring out traditional values and morals. It really is sad. I realized the other day since I have my first baby coming in June that I won’t be able to watch most of the evening tv programming because I feel all of those shows are geared towards adults and I wouldn’t want me kids to watch any of it. Also I thought of this the other day too while walking in the mall. Remember when the store Spencer’s in the mall use to be cool to go into when you were a kid because it was based around jokes and gags and band tshirts, nowadays it is practically a porn shop with dildos and fetish gear. The crazy thing is that this is the closest store to the indoor kid’s playground. Don’t get me wrong I like my share of TNA but there is a time and place for it.
Here is a great song by Ashton Shepherd called “Andy” which is built around this subject.
January 29, 2014 @ 6:01 pm
Ah but you’ll get to do new things like watching the same cartoon movie 100 times in a row. 🙂
Yeah I use to love going into Spencers. It was the coolest place in the mall (right up there with the hobby shop). The worst thing they had when I was a teenager was a lot of bikini posters (and really some stuff that could be referred to as ‘satanic’ in nature for some). It sure ain’t like that anymore.
No matter what you do, you’re kid will see porn (and worse) on someone’s cell phone or device the second they hit elementary school now. Even letting them go to someone else’s house will expose them to games like Grand Theft Auto at a very young age. It is just down right freaky how many adults buy games like that for very young kids.
The only (only) hope at all right now is being a hard core church member that surrounds themselves with other church members (like a network for child raising of sorts). That isn’t me at all but some members of my family live like that (and they’re kids are all really stable and all graduated college).
January 29, 2014 @ 9:17 pm
My issue with this show is multi-fold. As you point out, you’re never going to be able to protect kids completely from stuff. That doesn’t mean you should not try. But I think the bigger, more universal issue with this is the negative connotations this show creates for Southern people, and not just to people outside of the South, but for Southerners specifically. We’re constantly asking ourselves on this site why people would ever want to listen to something like Florida Georgia Line. The answer lies in a show like Party Down South. People are taught by media that this is what they should be like, and this is how they behave, and then they buy into the entire culture of it, and CMT and Clear Channel are right there to serve them from the cradle to the grave.
I’ve seen some people say that this has nothing to do with music, so why am I covering it. In my opinion, this is at the very core of why country music is in decline.
January 29, 2014 @ 9:22 pm
We”™re constantly asking ourselves on this site why people would ever want to listen to something like Florida Georgia Line. The answer lies in a show like Party Down South.
Interesting observation, Trigger. I’ve been trying to figure out which one of these begat which, though they’re both symptoms of a deeper disease in American culture.
January 29, 2014 @ 8:20 pm
I don’t have too much faith in the general population.
The strength of mainstream media has America in a stranglehold.
I fear this crap will create a huge following. Viacom spends ridiculous amounts of money trying to figure out what shows will get ratings. I doubt they would put such a push on a product they didn’t believe in. This could be a bit like Jerry Springer on steroids.
Man, do I sound cynical. I am.
But I really love my life…
January 29, 2014 @ 10:02 pm
Throw out your TV. Trust me, you won’t miss anything important.
January 29, 2014 @ 10:22 pm
Well heck this is pretty good news. I know we all thumb our noses at singing reality shows (although you could give one credit from an early jump start to Kacey Musgraves career). But, after all the intolerable horrid Nicki Minaj crap last year on American Idol, they seemed to have cleaned up their act in a very family friendly way. Everyone seems to love the judges now (no more Nicki Minaj and Harry Connick Jr seems like a personable and funny guy with good knowledge and input). Plus they cut out almost all of the crap fake auditions that annoyed a lot of people (the shock freak show part of the show). They’re rebounding at 13 million viewers for the family friendly re-design, and Party Down South tanked with a #38 spot and barely half a million viewers. Hell, I’d bet money CMT isn’t even going to recover the money they lost from dedicating so many commercial slots to Party Down South.
These are the ratings from last Thursday:
American Idol (8:00, 120 Minutes) – FOX
13.353 million viewers, #1; 4.958 million adults 18-49 (3.91 rating), #1
Party Down South (10:00) – CMT
0.682 million viewers, #41; 0.370 million adults 18-49 (0.29 rating), #38
January 29, 2014 @ 10:30 pm
The important question though is what does CMT usually pull in this time period? Some of these cable networks consider great successes shows that have very few viewers.
And I would imagine this show is dirt cheap to produce that is one of the big appeals of these types of reality shows.
January 31, 2014 @ 7:05 pm
MTV has always been about niche programming to a key demographic that makes the numbers irrelevant because they can deliver such a focused audience to sponsors. Likely this is the way CMT is going. So yes, the numbers matter, but in a way they also don’t.
But just like country music on the radio, sure you can pull good numbers within your key demographics with programming catering to young adults, but if you disenfranchise every single other demographic in the process, your audience isn’t going to be sustainable.
Bigfoot is Real (but I have my doubts about you)
January 30, 2014 @ 9:54 am
I agree that PDS is a piece of crap as a lot of TV fare is but for this holier than thou Cooter to hold up the Dukes as something worthwhile is more than a stretch.
“…the Duke boys became heroes” is he serious? To who? I haven’t ever met anybody who thinks two fictitious TV character are heroes regardless of what freaking show they were on. Well at least anyone who isn’t out of their mind or dumber that a stump so if Cooter thinks they are that proves he delusional.
“I was the trusty sidekick “Cooter” and the affection that people feel for that show is as much an honor to me as having been twice elected to Congress.” If true this is the same of voter rationale that rewarded voters with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura, and Sonny Bono. Not a proud moment for any of the populaces who voted them in. And really playing a slow witted hillbilly is the same as people trusting you with legislating?
“We in the Southland are accustomed to being mocked, stereotyped…” Right and it is because of shows like the Dukes that helped making it okay. Cooter you need know the difference between being laughed with and being laughed at.
Sorry but the Dukes was, is, and will always be crap.
And he can’t sing a lick either but at least he is honest about that.
January 30, 2014 @ 10:03 am
Avoid watching and treat it like the plague. The ratings will sink and it will disappear.
January 30, 2014 @ 11:40 am
I don’t watch any reality shows because they are so shallow and staged.
I find their prevalance to have the tendency of dumbing down society to its lowest element.
They can have it, but I certainly don’t want it.
I particularly dislike the advertisement of sex products on prime time television.
January 30, 2014 @ 1:38 pm
Hey Bigfoot is Real,
At least I sign my real name to my thinking. You come off like one of those pseudo-critics that live in their mama’s basement. So you don’t like The Dukes of Hazzard. Fine. But it wouldn’t have been around for 35 years if folks didn’t like it. In fact, millions of people love it. And neither the Dukes nor Cooter were dumb or slow. The show was a slapstick comedy. You don’t like it, switch to Downton Abbey or rasslin’ or old re-runs of Three’s Company.
Holier than thou?? What do you think your smarmy condescending comments are?
Yep, Bigfoot is Real, but I have my doubts about Bigfoot is Real the television critic.
And I make a good living singing. How about you?
Scuse me, I’m a little cranky today. At least I put my real name on my opinions.
January 30, 2014 @ 3:26 pm
Ben, that was an excellent piece of writing in the open letter – and also in your comment. When fired upon, fire back! Thank you for defending and promoting The Dukes of Hazzard all these years. The show was about down-home fun, and some people will never “get” it….but millions more do.
And may I just add: YEEHAAAA!
Bigfoot is Real (but I have my doubts about you)
January 31, 2014 @ 8:41 am
As far as your acting and singing go just making a lot of money doing either doesn’t make either worthwhile. Just because PDS is a more offensive waste of time than DOH was doesn’t make DOH worthwhile. And you have said yourself that that you can’t sing, I was just agreeing with you and giving some props for a least being honest about that.
January 31, 2014 @ 9:08 am
Hey Mr. Foot,
I never said that making money was the point of anything. (Other than paying the rent and buying the groceries…) But if folks pay money to hear somebody sing, and continue to do so for years, that is one standard of success in show business. Yeh, you were just giving me props, huh? Well, Bigfoot, didn’t you ever learn that you can’t bullshit a bullshitter???
What bothers me as an occasional “public” individual is that people can take real cheap shots without knowing me and then hiding behind anonymity. Like you just did.
I can carry a tune and front a band and I love the music. And I’ve been doing it professionally for fifty years.
3 things that I don’t like:
I don’t like people putting pond-slime like Party Down South on “Country Television” and especially foisting it on kids. And I hate the phony bubblegum garbage that is coming out of Music Row these days. And I really dislike the kind of discourse that is just anonymous adolescent pontification.
January 30, 2014 @ 5:13 pm
As a former New Jerseyan I can sympathize. When I went to Maine I damn near punched everyone who asked if it was just like the show.
But the holier than thou, religious based rhetoric against this show grates on me just as bad. Yeah, it’s filth. Yeah, it gives a bad impression about all Southerners. But for Pete’s sake we’re not all hard-shell baptists looking down on any sort of moral ambiguity.
But hey, I’m a Yankee, what the hell do I know?
January 30, 2014 @ 5:58 pm
I don’t think I’ve been laying out “religious based rhetoric”, I keep my religion pretty close to the vest. The question I’ve raised is that CMT does not seem to care that impressionable kids are watching the “Dukes” when these really sleazy commercials are suddenly appearing in front of them. To me, that’s not morally ambiguous. Its just wrong. No, we’re not all “hard-shell Baptists” (though that isn’t a pejorative where I come from). We are all kinds of people of all kinds of beliefs who are sick and tired of this jaded urban sensibility being overlaid on traditional entertainment. Country music has been overrun with mediocre and phony bubblegum rockers who all sound alike and try to act cool and tough. Great artists can’t get airplay. And now the New York/L.A. “reality” people are taking over Nashville television. It is a lowering of standards of our music and entertainment by people who are clueless about its roots and history, and could care less about the South and its music.
Sorry for going on. End of sermonette.
January 30, 2014 @ 6:23 pm
The religious based rhetoric line was not aimed at you, though it may have come off that way, but there is a good amount of it in the comments on the initial article concerning your disapproval. I do agree that the advertising is mis-aimed and poorly timed during a family show.
Reality television is, quite frankly, the worst shite to come out of American Television. But the simple fact is that every culture within this country has been lampooned and stereotyped in the name of “entertainment”. New Jersey Italians, Massachusetts Irish, both of which groups I belong to, are always caricatured and trite. And of course presented as city-slickers despite the wealth of rural communities in the North.
The erosion of culture in this country is nothing new, the main difference here is that it’s your culture that’s being targeted.
January 30, 2014 @ 7:05 pm
Thanks for the clarification. And you are right. The tastes and sensibilities of the vast majority of those who create media are urban-centric, and certainly the Italians and other ethnic groups have been stereotyped.
But Hollywood has traditionally stereotyped Southerners as inbred, illiterate, violent, and of course, racist. And they have portrayed the South as a dangerous and backwards place. This has been going on for a century, back to the Silent era.
The South is another country, another culture, with a very different history. It is a very diverse area which seems to be held together by that sense of history, despite the cultural, racial, ethnic, and geographical differences. And as I pointed out in my letter to Viacom, we are very aware of this demeaning portrayal.
I guess some of us have just about had it, and Party Down South is the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back.
In my opinion, we all took a lick when Ted Turner sold out to Time/Warner. He was able to hold his own against the czars of Hollywood and New York. He says selling was the biggest mistake of his life….
I realize that a lot of people like “reality” programming and apparently the sleazier the better. (I’d like to see a “reality” show about a bunch of Hollywood producers put to work in a coal mine for a few weeks.)
Anyhow, what really got me p.o.ed is that they are running those ads while they know a lot of kids are watching. And they don’t care. The only way to stop that is to raise hell. Like a lot of us were born to do!
January 31, 2014 @ 7:19 am
I am behind You a 100%!!!
January 31, 2014 @ 8:17 am
I applaud your efforts to get CMT to reconsider airing commercials for Party Down South during Dukes of Hazzard. While I must admit that I watch PDS and enjoy it as a guilty pleasure, I also completely agree with you that it is totally inappropriate to advertise it during a family-friendly show like the Dukes. TV networks should be allowed to present programs that appeal to a variety of viewers, including shows that are not appropriate for all viewers. But they also need to be responsible about when they present those types of shows as well as when and how they market them. You have done a great job of presenting your views forcefully but respectfully and I hope CMT listens.
January 31, 2014 @ 8:58 am
Thank you for taking this stand against the continued degradation and erosion of regional culture.
Seems to me the next step is for consumers who find this show offensive to find out who its advertisers are and let them know of our displeasure.
February 5, 2014 @ 7:17 pm
This show is filmed in S C ,but none of the players are from S C so how is this a reality show ? Why can’t they film this crap in one of their home states ?