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Amish on TV: For better or worse.

   As most of you can imagine, I receive a lot of emails and feedback from viewers of the show “Amish: out of Order” that some of the ex Amish and myself were portrayed in in 2012.

I also have received a ton of emails and questions from viewers of the other show Breaking Amish on TLC. Keep in mind that I saw about exactly 10 minutes of airtime from this show, (for various reasons) so I do not necessarily have an opinion on it. Therefore, I decided, to copy and paste, word for word, several emails I read in my inbox this morning, and let you, the reader and viewer, decide what you think?                                      Amish kids going to school

I did not necessarily pick and choose which particular emails I repost, but found it rather ironic this morning when I read two emails that were so drastically different in opinions.
Yes, Vietnam Veteran lady was quite kind and generous in her opinion, but the reason I used her email, is because it was quite well written, and in light of the recent Veteran’s Day, I felt it appropriate.

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Hello Mr. Gingerich:

I think you are an unusually kind and very sincere person. In addition, you are a very frank and eloquent person of speech and demeanor. Likewise, you set a remarkable loving and domestic hard-working and religious lifestyle , which is beyond a doubt, a fervent example to your many Ex-Amish friends and cohorts who simply endeavor to attain the same. However, if I may have this privilege, I would like to take this time and opportunity to state to you what I think of the supposedly “Ex-Amish Heathens,” who go by the TV title of “Breaking Amish/Shunning Truth;”
those of whom will present themselves tonight on Cable (Chanel 55) at 9:00 p. m. These people in question are undoing all of the good that you have done and continue to strive to do, and are blasphemously portraying the Amish in a totally different limelight than what I, and others, believe the Amish to be as
follows:

Whom do these people think they are?

Their conduct, posture, language, speech, and attitude about life in general, is reprehensible! I know of no other TV show where people are paid to curse in front of the whole world, talk about their sex lives, and to ridicule the Host who interviews them.
This is the type of cheap nonsense that the Amish does not want, and yes, I agree to a certain extent of the Amish culture: If going to New York makes that big of a change in a once great society and culture such as the Amish, then yes, cavorting with such a drastic change in lifestyle apparently will lead all of them to the devil because they do not have the kind of hurtful background to handle it! The whole idea of these people having gone to New York was simply too much for them. They don’t know how to handle the confusion, hatefulness, sin, greed, lust,(and anything else that can be thought of), that exists within the English world. Thus far, these people have only cheapened themselves trying to be something they are not, and have nothing to offer themselves much-less anyone else, as far as prospering in any way.

Your very own program, Mose, is educational and reaches my heart as you continually strive to figure everything out, that is, what is good for you, what is good for your family, what is good for your friends, where do you go from here, etcetera. The people who will be on Channel 55 tonight at 9:00 p. m. have no class, no manners or respect whatsoever, nor no sense of protocol. Consequently, they have turned themselves into much of the same kind of trash that decent people, bash. All of these idiots seem to think that they are so important to the world that when they face the cameras, it is alright for them to curse and slouch within their seats as if they were in a tavern rather than in an establishment where they are getting paid to set such a vile example of their culture to the world. The English world can only hope to disrespect them such as I do.
In the English world, the girl model who will be on TV tonight can only hope to end-up being used and abused by those people whom she has no insight as to how same will eventually use and abuse her. This is the kind of world she wants, but yet has no idea of how sordid it really is. The Italian girl needs to clean up her act, be a lady, further her education, and forget about boyfriends until she is educationally and financially able to take care of herself. Rebecca, the newly married girl,is totally ignorant. The guy she married would have been alright, but once he married Rebecca, he has become totally ignorant also. He very abruptly stated on TV last Sunday to the Host, (that is, when the Host asked him where he went to when leaving the camera’s eye for a moment,that, “He had to take a pizz!” How ridiculous is that? Nobody talks like that on a family show! The guy who learned how to drive a cab is probably the one who has the most common sense, but he would be better off stress-wise, educationally, and financially, and have a better life, living on the farm which he would inherit one day.

While I enjoy sharing your many visions, Mose, if I can find out where to voice my opinion with reference to TV, I would like to see Breaking Amish/The Shunning Truth, be removed from any further viewing. It is destructive socially as well as morally.

Sincerely, Violet (a 72 year old Vietnam Veteran, Retired Government Worker, and Housewife)

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Whether or not the things that were said in the above email are true, I do not know, as again, I haven’t watched it.

Followed by an Email from another viewer with a completely different opinion. Who is right and who is wrong?

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Hi Mose, It upsets me what people are saying over at Facebook Breaking Amish page. People are saying everything was a lie and fake. I feel and believe that whatever they (the cast) said was the truth and I love them and love to learn about the Amish. It really breaks my heart that people can be filled with so much hate out there in the world!!! I also watched Amish out of order and loved it!!! If I had it my way I would live Amish!! LOL!!

A fan, Donna.

15 Comments

  1. I personally gave up on the series after several episodes for several good reasons. http://www.geoffgentry.org/2012/09/10/breakingamish/ People have a hunger to learn more about the Amish Community and Ex-Amish Community. The issue is I feel most folks will try to cater to what they think people want to see rather than let the truth speak (which is what I think Nat Geo and you, Mose, have done). http://www.geoffgentry.org/2012/06/13/amish-out-of-order/

    • i hear ya about the tv show.so much if it was made up as well as lied about.i live here in lancaster ciunty pa amoung the amish and am a taxi driver for them.so i do know more than the regular english person out there.a shame that they did what they did for tv.and a shame for nat geo for not doing what was right and truthful about the people that were on the show.

  2. Lisa Holyk

    Dear Mose,
    Having watched both Out of Order and Breaking Amish, just be glad that you stayed out of having anything to do with Breaking Amish. I think those kids (can you call people ranging from 20-36 kids?) have given the producers a huge headache. It’s just getting stupid now. Amish Mafia? Really? Keep your head down, and just let all this ridiculousness fly over your head.

    Lisa

    • Dear Mose,

      I also watched both shows & agree. In watching Amish: Out of Order, there was always a feeling that everything was genuine. When watching Breaking Amish, it felt as fake as most reality shows. Where did they get money? Why did they have to “dress up” in Amish clothes to record their thoughts? Why did most shows have a “bombshell”? And now Discovery is advertising Amish Mafia? I don’t think my wife & I will be watching that one. Take care.

      Greetings from Lancaster County, PA

      Marty

      • looks like one of the stupidest shows yet on tv.i am also from lancaster county.i know exactly what you are saying.i will also not be watching such a stupid and ridiculus show

    • Hi Mose,

      First of all, I loved your show. I found Out of Order to be educational, straightforward and realistic. As a result, I was naturally interested in Breaking Amish. After a few episodes, I couldn’t bare to watch it anymore.

      As someone who is highly cynical of the media and entertainment industry anyway, I think Breaking Amish was intentionally created for drama and conflict. It reminds me of many of the ‘reality’ shows on MTV – full of partying, drinking, and sex. I don’t know what the ratings were for Breaking Amish, but I know how popular the MTV “Jersey Shore” shows and spin-offs are, as well as “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” shows. I think TLC was trying to use the public’s natural curiosity about the Amish to put a spin on those sorts of shows and attract more of the MTV demographic. Sadly, it appears that our society loves nothing more to watch a good ‘trainwreck’ on television.

      Information about the cast of Breaking Amish, including previous arrests, are abound on the internet, and I have a hard time believing that the producers of Breaking Amish didn’t know anything about these people prior to casting them. That said, I feel sorry for the cast, who have made themselves look completely and utterly ridiculous before the entire country. This sympathy isn’t because they were Amish – they’re no different than any other young adult who has done similar things on ‘reality’ TV – and their actions will likely negatively impact them the rest of their lives.

      TLC is a business and their goal is to earn a profit and increase ratings – NOT to educate us about the Amish. Your show was rare in that it managed to do both. The subsequent Amish shows (Breaking Amish and Amish Mafia) I firmly believe are for entertainment purposes only and that makes me sad, because while I am not an Amish expert – I’m pretty sure from what I learned on Out of Order that neither of these new shows portrays an accurate image of Amish lifestyle and instead merely exploits the name.

      Thanks for all you do to help former Amish and educate the rest of us in the English world. I love reading your blog.

      -Andrea

  3. old mawmaw

    Dear Mose,
    I agree with Lisa. I watched a few episodes of this show and am wondering why they even bothered. I am so thankful for the documentary that you did because I think it did and will help those Amish who have been completely cut off from their families and (they believe) their God. I’m even more certain that the work you are doing is needed vitally. The Ex-Amish need to know that as Christians we believe that God forgives us, so that we can forgive others. They are still loved, and they can live out here among the English or travel wherever they may, Jesus comes with them.
    I sure wouldn’t bother watching that show, but I did say some prayers for those kids. If anybody needed a Mose Gingerich, it was them.
    God bless you and yours, and give you strength. lovingly, old mawmaw

  4. Terri Wynne Terri Wynne

    I also watched both and agree completely with Violet. I was very disappointed with these “Adults” not kids behavior and deceptiveness. I look forward to seeing more of your works for the young Amish community that truly need help and guidance. I wish you all the best in these endeavors and would also be open to donating for any foundations set up to help Amish teens who are seeking help.

  5. I watched all but 1 of the showings.The comparison between Amish Out Of Order and this one,do not compare.The producers obviously interviewed these 5 young people,not realizing the wool was being pulled over their eyes. What a mess.

  6. Hello Mose,
    Hope you and yours are doing well. I watched the the “kids” reunion show this morning I use the term kids because I find them to be very immature I was surprised to hear how old a couple of them are. As a whole they all acted like english teenagers from the drama to the drinking and swearing. That said I pray they don’t loose their faith in God, and they all go and attend GED classes.

    Cheryl

  7. Babydriver

    Dear Mose,

    I saw two episodes of that show and my spirit was grieved within me. Sadly, they are being exploited and I’m sure that some, maybe all of their childish, rude, obnoxious behavior was well planned out by the producers. They will be damaged by this expoitation; especially if it continues.

    Mose, they need you! Maybe you can try to reach them and get them out of New York and on a road trip to Missouri. We must all pray for them. They are doing a great injustice to you and yours, as well as the Amish that still are bound by the law and not in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

    Blessings this Thanksgiving to you, yours and all those you have helped. Blessings and prayers to those that are still under the law.

    The Lord Bless you;Keep you and
    make his light to shine upon you!

    Babydriver/Marguerite

  8. As someone raised Amish Mennonite who also watched the Breaking Amish series–and cringed through most of it–I think the show tells us far more about TLC’s mainstream American audiences than it does about the Amish. These audiences want to see the Amish culture as flat and homogeneous and its young people as naive, crude, and backward. These audiences also want to see themselves in the characters–they want the cast members to fulfill their own fantasies about their own choices if they had been born Amish. Most of all, they want to feel superior, sophisticated in comparison to the Amish young people.

    Of course TLC/the producers know this better than anyone which is why THEY should be held to account for the deplorable way the Amish culture was presented. They exploited vulnerable people who probably did not fully understand the implications of their involvement. Yes, the cast members have been “out” for years, but that does not necessarily make them savvy about media manipulation.

    So, yes, the cast members’ behavior was rude, disturbing, confusing, and sometimes even bizarre, but we are seeing what the producers chose to show us. By asking the “tough questions” on the reunion show, TLC essentially threw the cast members under the bus, without acknowledging their own contribution to and massive profit from this very problematic show.

  9. Hey Mose, you asked for an opinion and I have to agree with Violet. I did not watch both shows because, after watching Out of Order, I simply couldn’t sit through Breaking Amish. If I’m honest I have to say that TLC has a history of copying other shows that have gotten good ratings, but the quality of their shows is nowhere near the original. Your show was genuine and educational. I felt like Breaking Amish was a ploy for ratings and it was obvious.

  10. Hi Mose,

    I am a great fan of your work and have been lurking around for quite some time. A couple blogs ago, you indicated that you was still looking for a title for your book. Here is my humble submission:
    “Driving Through The Fire: The Open Exploration of an Ex-Amish”

  11. Hillfolk3

    I love Amish: Out of Order. Didn’t like Breaking Amish at all. I hope NATGEO keeps Amish out of order on tv.

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