The Construction of Southern Identity Through Reality TV: A Content Analysis of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Duck Dynasty and Buckwild

By Ariel Miller
Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications
2013, Vol. 4 No. 2 | pg. 3/5 |

Crude behavior was another factor for evaluation. This included any time a subject swore or used vulgar language, any time focus was brought to bodily functions, or any occasions of heightened sexuality, specifically promiscuous behavior. Crude behavior also included any occasions of nudity, regardless of whether this nudity was sexual in nature.

Violent behavior included all physical violence ranging from pushing (even in a joking and not necessarily aggressive way) and general roughhousing to full fledged physical assault. Violent behavior also included verbal violence, where attention was brought to characters that were verbally berating or assaulting other characters or strangers on the show. Violent behavior also included any dangerous stunts, certainly capable of causing serious harm and possibly even death, performed by characters on the show.

Unhealthy behavior included any emphasis on subjects eating heavily processed or fried foods, particularly in excess of what could be considered nutritionally healthy. Unhealthy behavior also included any kind of emphasis brought to characters being excessively overweight or obese.

The process involved a careful watching of five full episodes of each of the three shows, marking tallies for each occasion of a particular stereotype, along with taking detailed notes to with the goal of drawing more qualitative thematic conclusions across the shows.

Based on analysis of the five episodes (roughly 100 minutes) for each show, the author tallied the instances of each stereotype and calculated their means as shown in the following three tables.

Table 1

Table 2

Table 3

V. Primary Research Findings

Overall, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo demonstrated the highest frequency of subjects being portrayed as unintelligent at an average of 36.6 occurrences per episode, followed by MTV's Buckwild (30 occurrences per episode) and Duck Dynasty (20.2 demonstrations). It is important to note the implications of even this lowest value: it still means that on average at least one unintelligent behavior per minute was shown on screen during the 20-minute segment.

Buckwild had the most frequent demonstrations of crude behavior at an average of 46 instances per episode. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Duck Dynasty had considerably lower numbers of crude behavior at 15 and 3.8 instances, respectively. Much of the crude behavior in Buckwild had to do with subjects swearing, using otherwise vulgar language, and engaging in overtly promiscuous sexual behavior throughout the show.

Buckwild also appeared to be the most violent show, with an average of 11 incidents of violence in comparison to Duck Dynasty which had 6.2 instances, and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo with four. Violence in Buckwild included reckless and dangerous stunts performed by the characters as well as several incidents of physical violence. This physical violence ranged from subjects pushing each other around perhaps in a less serious way to full-fledged physical assault.

The unhealthy stereotype was the least frequent stereotype present in all of the shows observed. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo had the highest frequency of unhealthy behavior with an average of 4.2 incidents per episode, followed by Buckwild (1.2 occasions) and Duck Dynasty (0.8 occasions). The unhealthy behavior in Here Comes Honey Boo Boo largely had to do with the consumption of fried or heavily processed foods in excess. There was also a heightened attention brought to the weight of the characters as they intermittently competed against each other to lose weight. As the camera zoomed in on the scale reading, it was clear that every character, even young Alana, could be classified as overweight and some even obese or morbidly obese. In one episode, June, otherwise known as "Mama," clocked in at over 300 pounds. Rather than seeming concerned for their health, the characters made minimal efforts to change their eating and lifestyle habits. The camera frequently zoomed in on the subjects continuing to binge eat from huge bags of food.

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