I’ll admit to being a fan of Pawn Stars and American Picker on the History Channel. A picker at heart, I felt like a bee in clover when cleaning out the stuffed garage of the tear-down house we bought, despite the dirt and hard work. I even found a few treasures to sell on eBay.
For those readers who have never watched Pawn Stars, the “reality” show is set in a pawn shop in Las Vegas, where the main characters—The Old Man, his son, Rick, Rick’s son, Corey, and Corey’s longtime friend, Chumlee—work. The premise revolves around the items brought into the shop to sell or to pawn. The show qualifies to be featured on the History Channel because the history of each object is explained, often by experts who are brought in to authenticate the item.
This week I quit watching Pawn Stars. One reason is I’m spending too much time watching television and not enough reading, writing—or sleeping. Another is that Rick has this little giggle that has started to drive me NUTS. I can sympathize. It’s probably an unconscious reaction he might not even be aware of. Once upon a long time ago, an interviewer at an employment agency asked if I realized I giggled when I was nervous. That was news to me, but, ever since, I’ve been aware of the behavior in others. And finally, after X number of years, Rick’s little giggle has gotten to me. Has no one ever told him? (I won’t even go into the bleeps and the poor grammar used on the show. Grrrr!)
The biggest reason I’ve quit watching, though, is related to the topic of this blog—bullying. Old Man, Rick, and Corey all bully Chumlee. He’s told to shut up and called an idiot. They play cruel tricks on him and make him the brunt of jokes. Sure, Chumlee sets himself up to be a target with his bumbling ways, his (hopefully) feigned ignorance (he has read Walden), his scruffy appearance, and his weight, although everyone on the show is overweight. I’ve seen him interviewed and he comes off as much more intelligent and well-spoken than the television Chumlee, so he must be simply playing a role. And Chumlee isn’t the only one picked on, but he does get the worst of it.
I realize the show is meant to entertain and much of it is likely scripted, even Chumlee’s role as victim. However, whether it is their intention or not, stars on television have the power to influence viewers, and, real or fake, I believe the amount of bullying that occurs on Pawn Stars is a concern. It tells people that decency in workplace relationships and civility between friends aren’t important. If reinforces that bullying, even among adults, is acceptable, perhaps reinforces this even more because the show is a “reality” show and not fiction.
Pawn Stars would be as entertaining without making any of the participants the butt of jokes and unkind remarks. Chumlee provides a modicum of gentle humor without being a victim. The bullying leaves a sour taste and make the stars less likeable. Eliminate it and I might start watching again. Especially if Rick stops giggling.
Do you agree with my opinion of bullying on Pawn Stars?
Are you aware of any television shows where the characters bully each other on a regular basis?
I’d love to hear from you.