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by Brittany Yap, editor

MTV’s newest reality television series Maui Fever is being called Hawai‘i’s anti-reality.

The show, which follows the lives of seven friends who work and live in Ka‘anapali, has disturbed HPU students, especially the locals. Students’ biggest concern is that the all-Caucasian cast and simplistic plot line of sun, surf, sex, and partying is not representative of Hawai‘i’s people and culture.
“ Whoever thought up Maui Fever got it all wrong,” said Brandi Boatner, a graduate student from Louisiana working on an M.A. in communication. “Why would (MTV) come to such a culturally diverse place and ignore us?”

Originally called Island Fever, the series was filmed in Maui last fall, said Hawai‘i State Film Commissioner Donne Dawson. The series is made up of eight half-hour episodes that aired on MTV Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m.

Maui Fever Executive Producer Tony DiSanto is no stranger to making a reality show. DiSanto led the way in successful MTV shows such as Run’s House, The Hills, and Laguna Beach. Many have compared the plot line of Maui Fever to Laguna Beach, a show that focused on the crazy love triangles among a group of wealthy friends going to high school in Orange County.

Mike Powers and Liz Gateley are the other executive producers of the show and Morgan J. Freeman is the creator.

Maui Fever’s first episode, “The Game,” set the stage for the rest of the show. The guys on the show prey on unsuspecting tourist girls for quick and easy hookups, knowing that the girls will be gone in several days. Chaunte is a girl who wants to have her cake and eat it too. She keeps ex-boyfriend Anthony on the side, while she enjoys the single life of partying and hooking up. Cheyne, a pro surfer, finds himself stuck in a love triangle between ex-girlfriend and gal pal Anna and girlfriend Rachael. According to the Maui News, none of the cast members were born on Maui and only Anthony, 19, was born in Hawai‘i.

Roniza Gonzales, a marketing and finance major and Maui native, feels the show is “degrading to Maui people” because it makes them, especially those in their early 20s, look lazy and unproductive. Her friends in Chicago have also been watching the show, and according to Gonzales, they think “Maui people are easy,” and that’s why they want to come to Hawai‘i now.

“It’s telling that (locally) the demographic they’re trying to reach is complaining the most,” said Dawson.

Kalamalama repeatedly tried to reach MTV representatives for comment, but they did not return e-mails or phone calls.

Amanda Dela Cruz, a finance major from Maui, watched the show for three episodes and then stopped. According to Dela Cruz, the plot line lacks substance because it is the same thing every week.

“ It’s not authentic. Every episode is the same,” said Dela Cruz. “Chaunte making out with another boy. The boys picking up tourists. It gets old.”

She was also disappointed to see the all-Caucasian cast because Hawai‘i is such a diverse place.
“ Where are the local people?” said Dela Cruz, referring to the fact that even if some of the cast were raised in Hawai‘i, they act like mainland Caucasians.

Maui County is made up of 38 percent Caucasians, 30 percent Asians, and 10 percent Native Hawaiians, according to the 2005 U.S. Census Bureau. Even though Caucasians have the largest representation, the show’s cast still does not reflect the island’s population as a whole.

More than 10,000 Maui Fever critics have signed an online petition calling for MTV producers to pull the show off the air. Governor Linda Lingle has seen the petition and recently responded to Dawson in a letter acknowledging the community’s concerns and expressing concerns of her own, said Dawson.

“ Concerns have definitely been registered,” Dawson said. But she feels it is still unclear where things will go at this point.

All four HPU students have signed a petition either on Facebook or Myspace.

“ There has been more objection to this show than any other show shot (in Hawai‘i),” Dawson said.
Part of Dawson’s job, she said, is to educate producers about the island’s unique people and culture when they first inquire for a permit. She also puts them in touch with cultural experts to help guide them through the moviemaking process on the islands.

Donnie Dadiz, an engineering major from Maui, feels Maui Fever producers fell short in this area.
“ They should have done their research,” said Dadiz, who was “sick” after watching the first episode.
Jeffrey Friedman, a graduate student from New York working on an M.A. in communication, said that he would be angry if he were a Hawaiian watching the show.

“ Watching a show filmed on Maui that doesn’t portray any Hawaiians and/or the culture of Maui; that’s what I’d be upset about,” he said.

Friedman feels that MTV’s decisions about the show are “strictly financial,” and “it’s all about gaining revenue.”

Like Friedman, Dawson understands how the community feels, but said the Film Commission Office cannot deny a permit based on the content of a show. They can only deny it if there is a violation of the law.

Until the show aired, Dawson knew very little about the show. “(MTV producers) were very low key about the content of it,” said Dawson. “For obvious reasons.”

She has not heard anything from producers about shooting additional episodes.

“ They developed this show because they thought there was an audience for it,” said Dawson. “If you don’t like it, shut the TV off or voice an objection.”

Students who want to voice their opinion about the show can contact Dawson at the Hawai‘i State Film Commission Office at 586-2570.

“ I just don’t want people (who aren’t from Hawai‘i) to think my life is like Maui Fever,” Dela Cruz said.

 

 

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