Swamp People; Is it Real or Fake?
What Is Swamp People?
This issue is something that I have wanted to get off of my chest for some time now, so I apologize if it comes out like a rant and I will do my best to keep it from doing so. Swamp People is a popular television series on the History Channel. The show basically revolves around a number of alligator hunters who make their livings in the swamps. They venture into the swamps of south Louisiana in an attempt to hook large alligators which are then shot and brought to the mainland and sold for their skins.
Now my issue is not with the morality of killing these animals and selling them for their skins, they are not endangered and are quite plentiful in some areas. The problem I have with the show is the "characters" that they chose to represent this area. Let me preface this by saying that I have lived in south Louisiana almost all of my life, for two years I moved to an area near Baton Rouge which we would not consider "south", and can tell you that 99% of people in these areas do NOT live the way that is depicted in this series. Now I realize that this is to sell the show, entertainment factor, etc.. but I honestly feel like people in this area of Louisiana almost always get a bad representation when they are put in the spotlight. I'll give you another other example, when hurricanes threaten the area it never fails that the most uneducated and backwoods folk are the ones who the news networks choose to interview. Maybe this happens elsewhere, but usually when I see someone from California interviewed it's not the "surfer dude" that probably makes up a small percent of the population.
Why The Show Is Staged
Now I know what you're thinking, "TV shows are made up, no way!", and I realize this, but at the same time there are a lot of things in this show that portray these people in a way that is not even close to how they really are. I have friends who are closely related to the two Native American guys on the show, R.J. and J. Paul Molinere, and they know for a fact that they are not these extremely "spiritual" people who light candles on the banks of the bayou to ward away evil spirits. This is something that the History Channel wanted them to do, to have the Native American presence on their show. Another thing is the way that these guys do the actual hunting. If the cameras weren't on none of these men would EVER stick their arm in the water while pulling up a line, gator on it or not, I can almost guarantee you that when you see this it is fake. Most likely and edit from an area where there was no bait in the water, or extremely shallow water. The risk of losing a limb is real, these alligators can weigh upwards of 800-1000 pounds, with extremely powerful jaws.
I've heard that folks up North are really excited about this show, and love it. I just hope it isn't for the wrong reasons. Granted most people enjoyJersey Shore because the people act like morons, but I just hope that is not the same reasoning here. The accents are real, but are the extreme for this region. To find other people who talk like most of these guys, you would have to travel to the very edges of the bayous, far from where they are from. This leads me to believe that the accents played a huge part in casting. Understandably so, it sells, that's why you see "Choot Em" t-shirts all over the place. I just can't help but feel like it stereotypes the entire region, and has people thinking that all of south Louisiana is like this.
We Aren't All Like This!
Wrap It Up!
Now don't get me wrong, what they do is real. I can vouch for at least one of the groups on the show and tell you that before the T.V. money came, this really is how they made their living. The market for alligator is very shaky, as is the fishing for them. It is not a luxurious existence by any means, and the work is extremely dangerous. But these guys have been doing it a long time, and know how to be safe. I would hate to hear of someone who saw the show, and the way that they hang over the boats and dig in the water, that decided to go out and try it only to lose a limb or worse.The swamps are not as uninhabitable as the show likes to make it seem. There are a lot of people who still live with the swamp in their backyard. Some are very wealthy and build second homes out there, because of the easy access to waterways and fishing.
The show IS entertaining, but it is also riddled with illegitimacy. So when you watch Swamp People , please take some of the things that they say with a grain of salt. If it seems to extreme to be real, it probably is!