Does Everybody Have A Price?
There was a Hutterite colony near the small town where I lived when I was young. My father was a John Deere salesman and often went to the colony to sell them new farm equipment. Dad loved to go there near lunchtime, as he was always invited to stay and share their meal. The ladies were good cooks just as portrayed in the show, food was hearty and plentiful. He was always treated well. The Hutterites there were first and foremost a religious colony, they took their beliefs and traditions seriously.
John and I enjoyed watching "Meet the Hutterites", but we had doubts about the "reality" of some of the episodes early on. He thought the "near heart-attack" was faked (and indeed it turns out that it was). I quickly noted that there was almost no reference to religion or faith, with the exception of the ongoing storyline of some of the young adults preparing for baptism, which would enable them to become full members of the community. In fact, the frequency of conversational "cuss words" took me by surprise.
The Amish, the Mennonites and Hutterites all provide a good deal of latitude when it comes to their young people "testing the waters" a bit before deciding whether to commit themselves to the group or to abandon it in favor of mainstream society. However, "Meet the Hutterites" took it to new levels, often portraying the young people as lazy, somewhat dull-witted, and alcohol-fueled.
Certainly there are young people (and old) in any defined group that are going to rebel against group mores. Some will try to change things, others will opt to leave. All will face strong opposition from group leadership intent on preserving group identity. Was it overdone on this series for the sake of viewer ratings? Were the main participants in the show encouraged and even directed in what to say and do to create scenarios that would capture audience attention? Sadly, it appears so. We know this occurs behind the scenes in most, if not all, so called "reality-tv" programming. Anyone who believes none of this stuff is scripted or at least prompted is naive.
That isn't so much the issue with me. What bothers me is that The King Ranch Colony had an unequalled opportunity to teach the world a little bit about who they are and what they stand for, and maybe to garner a bit of respect along the way. One of the final episodes even portrayed them doing a presentation at a local college to share their way of life with the students there. They wanted to be better understood, they wanted to dispel the misconceptions... or so they said. Then why, in the name of God, would you sell your collective souls, and sham the American public into believing this was a fair example of real life and typical interaction within a Hutterite Colony? Why would you participate in scripted stories while claiming to share your reality with us?
The answer I'm sure... is sadly... $100,000. Maybe when they signed the contract they didn't realize what they were getting into; maybe they should have read the fine print closer. But the bottom line, at least for me, is... how much money does it take to get you to abandon your beliefs and principles to participate in fabricated story lines? What is the price of a lie?
Now the Hutterite leadership is crying fowl, they were misled, they are embarrassed. They should be! Why didn't anyone stand up half way thru the filming and oppose the fakery? Was there no one with enough courage and conviction to speak out? Sad, really sad.
This leads to a really deep question... does everybody have a price? If the dollar amount is attractive enough, is there a limit to what you would do, or I would do? What if they made a lucrative offer to do a "reality-tv show" of your family, would you sign on the line?