Why Shain Gandee Matters

April 3, 2013 by Trina Bartlett
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There’s a voice in my head telling me that I have absolutely no right to write anything about Shain Gandee, the 21 year-old star of the MTV reality show Buckwild who was found dead in his truck near Charleston on Monday.

I never watched Buckwild and am one of those people who openly worries about how the show portrays West Virginians. If I had run into Shain on the street, I wouldn’t have given him a second glance because he looked like so many other young men in the Mountain State.

That’s why the louder voice in my head is telling me I absolutely must write about Shain Gandee.

I have a son who, like Shain, was born in Charleston and has lived his entire life in West Virginia. From what I’ve read, my son is absolutely nothing like Shain. Shepherd is six years younger and thinks a day without his iPhone or computer is pure torture. Instead of mudding, he has a passion for music.

But both young men grew up in a state that is growing increasingly older, and even though wisdom may come with age, so do more traditional attitudes and judgments. Our young people, whose brains are wired for adventure, need more than that. They need creativity and opportunities. They need to know that the rest of us recognize and hear them. They need to know they are important.

Despite my feelings about the show and some of the behaviors it encouraged, Buckwild appeals to those needs. And although it may have been scripted, Shain’s personality wasn’t. He was chosen as a cast member because he was charismatic and radiated youth. He had energy, a passion for life and confidence. When he was given a once in a lifetime opportunity, he seized it.

Because of that, Shain represented a lot of what I want for my son and for all young men in West Virginia – a sense of self, a sense of pride and a sense of place.

Shain’s death was a tragedy, but his life is a reminder – at least to me.  I should give a second glance to the young men who look and act like he did. I need to remember they are unique individuals who provide the gift of youth to the Mountain State.

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5 Responses to “Why Shain Gandee Matters”

  1. Gary MonkNo Gravatar says:

    Yes, Shain Gandee mattered. Such a tragic story. A lesson to be learned. So many young folks today believe they are invincible. That there are no consequences for irresponsible behaviors. The decisions we make in life ultimately define our fate. One thing , I believe, all young folks need to realize is this…..If you want to get red paint on yourself, just get around the red paint. Life is a choice of what paint you get next to. Prayers and sympathies to the Gandee family.

  2. steve seagravesNo Gravatar says:

    Looked like a good kid to me. When you are young you make some bad decisions. At least he had good in him unlike some young people that like to end others lives with assault rifles. Nobody is right here, a life has ended. Have some damn respect.

  3. PamNo Gravatar says:

    For those who have nothing positive to say…..my heart goes out to you. If all of us could LOVE and not JUDGE…what a wonderful WORLD. My heart goes out to his Mother and Father! I lost my son in an accident that was the car makers fault ,and it doesn’t matter how you lost your child….it hurts and your life has changed for ever more. Please people do not post negative comments for the parents to see. Their pain is GREAT, and you will never know unless you have experienced such a loss. Don’t be to quick to JUDGE…it may happen to you. God Bless his Family!

  4. Ruth MarionNo Gravatar says:

    Well stated. People need to remember that we shouldn’t judge others. I never met him myself either, but my Grandchildren knew him well. They lived just down the road from him. Long before Buckwild, I heard his name many times in conversations with them and always about how he was a good person and funny. He didn’t change after the show based on what they told me and others that I know that just met him. He was who he was. A good kid enjoying life in his way and judging no one. Too bad we all can’t be that way!

  5. Lexis wilkinsonNo Gravatar says:

    Shain gandee is my cusen

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