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Rep. Pitts: UPN's Amish Characters "Thought-Provoking" But Not Real

Location: Washington, DC

Rep. Pitts: UPN's Amish Characters "Thought-Provoking" But Not Real

Washington-This morning, Congressman Joe Pitts (R, PA-16) accused UPN of defaming the Amish religion by distorting the Amish practice of Rumspringa by using formerly-Amish young adults to pose as Amish characters in its latest reality TV concoction, "Amish in the City."

"UPN says this show is 'thought-provoking,'" said Congressman Pitts. "It might be, but the characters they chose seem to grossly distort Amish belief and culture. These young people may have grown up Amish, but to suggest they're Amish now or represent the Amish is a gross distortion. They were chosen simply because they match the Hollywood image Mr. Moonves wanted - they were the wildest he could find. Ten years from now, I don't think you'll see even one of these people practicing the Amish faith. Especially not now. They've made a Faustian bargain with UPN and jeopardized whatever tenuous ties they may still have had to their heritage. I hope they were well paid."

A column by Lisa de Moreas in the Washington Post this morning described UPN's Amish characters, complete with a CBS-supplied picture:

Also calming some of the critics' concerns, the five Amish participants in this reality series seem to be pretty rumspringaed from the get-go. Construction worker Randy has a pierced ear. Factory worker Ruth has dyed hair and was seen smoking a cigarette; she told critics during the Q&A session late in the day that her family looks on her "as very bad" and that she goes to visit them "maybe two times a year." Construction worker Jonas is a self-described "bad boy," and former teacher turned construction worker Mose is actually re-rumspringaing, having left the flock in his teens, returned, been baptized and now left again. Mose told critics that he was considered "very rebellious" and a "bad influence" as a teenager. Also, the Amish participants already are talking mall-speak in the first episode: Mose says his first ride on an escalator is "really freaking me out" and Ruth describes her first experiences-visiting the beach, seeing a parking meter, seeing art in a gallery, you name it-as "awesome."

"While I object to the show apart from its content, the casting of these characters confirms my worst fear about the show: that it would misrepresent the Amish and the rumspringa. UPN knew the image they wanted. And they went out and created it. These kids do not represent the Amish community, their stories do not accurately depict the rumspringa, and Les Moonves could care less," said Congressman Pitts.

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