For them the past was dead: they poured into our hands
a handful of dry dust and ashes.
It makes me more than half grumpy, it really does. But still, the thing won’t go away on its own. So I might as well address the buzz, because I’m going to have to, anyway, sooner or later. Because I hear the questions from pretty much everywhere around me. At work, customers ask. And on Facebook. You answer, knowing full well you’ll have to repeat yourself to the next person. And the next. Again. And again. So I figured, write a blog about it, and you can just tell people to go there and read it, instead of talking until you’re blue in the face.
Such is the madness surrounding the latest hit TV show, Amish Mafia.
I’m not going to fuss incessantly about how wrong it all is. That cudgel has been taken up so often, by so many, that it’s becoming a little tiresome. After a while it just gets old, all those strident cries of dismay and outrage. There comes a point when you get saturated, and the emotion plays itself out. I’ve been at that point for a while.
And yeah, I did watch a couple of episodes. The very first night the show came on, I watched those two hours. To see for myself, because I figured that down the road, I’d need to know a little bit about it from actually watching. And the critics are right on, the entire show is just ludicrous. If you don’t know or understand that, you might as well go somewhere else and read some other blog. There’s nothing on this post that’s going to be of much value to you. The whole concept is just silly. Amish Mafia. It’s like saying slavery is freedom. Or some such thing. The two words don’t mix. There’s no connection.
I’m not saying don’t watch it. Do what you want. If you enjoy the “Mafia’s” obviously contrived escapades, go ahead. Just don’t fool yourself that what you’re seeing is anything even remotely approaching reality. And don’t come asking me all sorts of inane questions like, don’t you think there’s something to it? I’m telling you here there’s not. Otherwise, knock yourself out, watching. Someone at the office told me yesterday that the run is almost over. But I’m sure the reruns are just starting.
From here, at this stage, I have a hard time getting too riled up about the whole thing. It’s obviously farce. Way most of the scenes have been “recreated.” Which means they were just flat out made up by some script writer. Every “Mafia” scene is contrived. Every one. It’s surreal, to see tough-guy Amish thugs swaggering about, pretending to protect a people whose only wish is to be left alone in peace. Swaggering about, shooting into the windshield of an old car, slashing tires with a butterfly knife, shaking down a shop owner for “protection” money. If there were a real underground Amish Mafia, you can bet they wouldn’t be showing their stuff on a national TV program. It’s surreal and silly, the whole thing. Almost as surreal and silly as the fact that so many people actually believe this stuff. What can you do, but throw your head back and laugh?
I don’t know who dreamed up the show, but I strongly suspect the idea was born from the mad actions of those “Amish” beard cutters out there in Ohio. For the first time in recent and maybe in all of history, it was conceivable to connect the Amish with violence. Well, as a cultural group, I mean. Wild Amish youth have certainly been violent and destructive to some degree in some communities over the years. But the beard cutters spread the concept over the culture as a whole, for the first time ever. And I can see some producer coming up with the idea and pitching it to Discovery. Look at Sam Mullet and his boys. They forcibly entered the homes of their Amish “foes.” Threw them down, and cut off their beards. All that was so strange, so far beyond anything seen before. But it was real. And I can see it. Pitch a new “reality” show. Amish Mafia. Guys who enforce the unwritten code of justice within the communities. That’s where the whole concept came from, I’d bet a five bucks to a donut.
The thing is, if the show were presented as just straight entertainment, it would actually be pretty funny. I won’t say it would be worth watching, but it would be fairly harmless. And that’s one of a very few real problems I have with Amish Mafia. That some shysters at Discovery Channel dreamed up the theme and decided to present it as reality. That’s pretty low. And from some of the inside scuttlebutt I’ve heard, they were way less than honest about what they were doing to some of the bit characters on the show. I won’t say what I’ve heard. But I believe what was told to me. And the producers of Amish Mafia are just flat out low-lifes. As are the suits higher up. All of them. Nothing matters to them, except the numbers and a hit show. Nothing matters, especially the truth. The Discovery people, at least the ones associated with this show, are a dishonorable bunch.
You can’t trust the mainstream media. Period. You can’t trust what you see and hear. Not in the news. Not on Discovery. Not from any mainstream source. It’s all mind-numbing soma for the masses.
The way I see it, the show’s existence and success boils down to this. The market will always provide what the culture craves. And no, I’m not going off on some bunny trail tirade about cultural depravity. We are where we are. And the English culture is what it is. The market will provide what the culture craves. It’s just a simple rule. I believe it. And the Amish have been hot stuff for a decade or so, now. Almost anything written or produced about them sells. Doesn’t matter whether or not it’s based on truth. Dress the guy in a black hat and plain suit, throw a head covering on the girl, and that’s all you need. Someone will buy it. Someone will believe it. A lot of someones, usually. And money talks. It always has, always will. It was inevitable, I suppose, that the market would come out with something as blatantly fraudulent as the Amish Mafia. It was probably just as inevitable that a hefty percentage of mainstream America would lap it up.
And no, there shouldn’t “oughta be a law” against any person claiming anything they want about pretty much anything or anyone, including the Amish. Sure, Amish Mafia is a travesty when it comes to truth. One of the few things worse than that would be some sort of FCC board of mindless bureaucrats sitting there and deciding what is or isn’t truth. And deciding whether or not Discovery will be allowed to air this show. The state already meddles way too much as it is in just about every conceivable area. That beast should be stripped of the powers it has usurped, not granted more.
And that brings me to Lebanon Levi and his cohorts. I can’t remember their names, and won’t bother to Google them. The right-hand man. The enforcer. The wanna be. And, of course, the girl. All of them are from real Amish blood except the enforcer. He’s some sort of plain “Joe Wenger” Mennonite. All of them speak the real Pennsylvania Dutch. (It was kind of wild, to hear the language spoken so clearly on TV.) And all of them are playing a role they know is a lie.
They all chose to do what they did on the show. But still, I’ve wondered. Who are they, really? They seem so lost. Where did they come from? What did they see, growing up? What did life throw at them? What did they experience? What did they endure? What roads have they seen and traveled? Where were their fathers? How deeply were they wounded? Go back down the trails of their pasts, and I’ll bet you’ll find it littered with emotional trauma.
I don’t know that. I’m just seeing the signs. Somehow, somewhere, they stumbled and lost their way. And my heart goes out to them. If I ever had a chance, I would sit down with any one of them and listen to their stories without judgment.
It’s a strange and maddening thing, the lure of fame. Especially when a little money is mixed into the equation. The combination of fame and money, it’s the low hanging fruit on the tree of temptation. Not many of us have ever had the chance to accept or reject that fruit. We judge like we have. But we’ve never felt or heard that whispering caress. Come on. In this moment. Take it. I can hear the serpent’s tongue of the Discovery people. Smooth. Big city types. Soothing and conniving, all the while despising the people they were manipulating. Simpletons. From the county. Way better yet, from the Amish. They speak the real language. Pennsylvania Dutch. They will be credible. Use them. Harvest what you can from them. That’s the way of the world that many jaded ex-Amish youth will never fully grasp or understand.
And so this “Mafia” cast was assembled. I doubt that they all knew each other before. I’d bet on it. The enforcer, especially, would have had no reason to be in the world of Levi and his friends. He’s such a wild card. Amish and Joe Wenger Mennonites don’t mingle much, I can tell you that. Not beyond basic socializing in passing. Not from what I’ve seen. Yet, here they are, pretending to be close friends in the shadows of an underworld that has never been seen before. Only from an insider perspective can you really grasp how contrived the whole thing is.
And I have to think, too. What price were they paid, to betray their people? It probably wasn’t that much, not when you consider the gold mine this show has turned out to be for Discovery. And it’s really none of my business. But I’m thinking. Whatever money these guys got paid, it wasn’t anywhere near enough. It could never be enough, for what they did.
Somehow, something tells me this group of “Mafia” characters had no idea of what they were doing, of what they were getting into, when they agreed to play their roles. I really don’t think they did. There’s no way they could have known how the show would explode into the mainstream. How wildly it would spin out of control.
And I wonder about the future of Lebanon Levi and his “Mafia.” Will their people be there for them, when they see and understand what they have done? Or will they be scorned and rejected? Ostracized? I don’t know. I hope someone will be there. Because I believe that day is coming for all of them, a day when they will see more clearly. It might already be here for a few of them.
It will be a harsh and bitter thing, whenever the true realization sinks in. How casually and dishonorably they betrayed their history and their people. You just don’t do that. Lie about your people, lie about where you came from and where you are. You just don’t.
The second real problem with the show is, the market has now seen that real ex-Amish youth can be bought. Paid to claim anything. Which probably always was the case, to some degree. I don’t know if there was ever a stage in my life when I would have done such a thing. Maybe I would have. I’d like to think I wouldn’t. But I never had a chance to face that test, because the market demand wasn’t there, back then. It is now, for ex-Amish kids. And when those kids are bought to speak, their voices mix and meld into all the legitimate voices out there. It’s a jumble of noise, to those who don’t know which voices are real and which voices are speaking pure falsehoods.
But that’s just how it is, in any market. You don’t believe every voice you hear. Figure it out for yourself, which ones are speaking truth. And reap the consequences of your choices. We live in the world we’re in. No amount of wishful thinking will change that. No amount of laws will, either.
The third real problem I see in the show is a long-term one. Maybe a century or two down the road. (Yep, as a post-millenialist, I believe there will be many, many more centuries down the road.) Anyhow, way down the road, there will be persistent historical myths that there was an Amish Mafia. And that far out, they won’t know today’s truth. This show will be part of the “proof” there was actually such a thing. Think Templar Knights, Masons, secretive groups like that. And the shows you see now and then on the History Channel. Some of the “facts” on those shows have to be wildly off. They have to be, because no one who is alive today was there. And the historical record is so sparse. There is so much we think we know but don’t know about the past. Of those groups, of any group. Of those times, of any time.
And that’s how it will be with the Amish record, two hundred years from now. History will show there might actually have been such a thing as an Amish Mafia.
The people in that day and time will have to deal with and absorb that misconception then. Sift through the evidence as best they can. Figure out which voices from the past to listen to.
All you can do is speak the truth where you are, as you see it. And that’s about all I have to say about the contrived myth that is the Amish Mafia.Share