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Maui residents feeling sick over MTV's new 'Maui Fever' reality series


By Christopher Rocchio, 01/22/2007 

The hot lifestyle being portrayed by the young cast of MTV's Maui Fever isn't sitting too well with some people -- namely the Hawaiian island's residents.

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"I couldn't even stomach the first few minutes," Darcy Orosco, a Maui-area mother, told The Maui News in an article published in Sunday's edition of the Hawaiian newspaper.  "I thought I would give it a chance. I thought it would portray our island in a beautiful way. It's just horrible for Maui.  It's embarrassing."

Like MTV's existing Laguna Beach, 8th & Ocean and The Hills, Maui Fever has been shot in a "reality drama" style and uncovers the real-life drama of seven Kaanapali, Maui residents in their 20s, who spend their days sunning and their nights partying.  The series' "sexual content, lack of ethnic diversity and misconceptions that may be crafted about Maui as a result" are what's most troubling to people both young and old living on the second largest of the Hawaiian islands.

"I thought it was kind of insulting. . . . They just show partying," 16-year-old Lahaina resident Abcde Shibao told The Maui News. "But (young people are) active in school, community and sports. We do other things besides partying."

As you can imagine, Fever uses a familiar MTV formula to attract viewers, and it was on display during the series' premiere last Wednesday night when a group of males targeted tourists along the Kaanapali hotel strip with a 50 First Dates-like goal of  what The Maui News termed "fast, easy, noncommittal hookups."

"I don't want (tourists) to come to Maui and think that people are going to come up to their daughters, so 'I better keep them away,'" 16-year-old Lahaina native Nathan Ugale told The Maui News.  "It's good for TV but not when it's happening in the town that you live in, that you've been a part of your whole life."

According to The Maui News, although three of the cast members graduated from Maui schools, none were born in Hawaii and MTV "did not provide information on how long any have lived in the islands."  In addition, the newspaper notes that the cast does not include any of the ethnic groups that make up Hawaii, except for Caucasian -- a key fact considering Hawaii is the most ethnically diverse state in the country. 

"(The show) is a really good idea, but these people aren't from here," 18-year-old Lahaina resident Kim Cabanilla told The Maui News. "The haole (Hawaiian for 'foreign' or foreigner,' opposite of local) thing is not a big deal, but I'd like to see people who are from here."

"When the show first reared its whatever, I had a strange feeling about it," Maui County film commissioner Benita Brazier told the paper. "They tried to fly under the radar. (MTV) was not forthcoming with the content of the show."

Hawaii State Film Commissioner Donne Dawson told the paper he also had reservations when MTV introduced the series to his office and went through the filming permit process.  He described Fever producers as "pretty low key, shall we say, in their approach. We were not aware of the detail of their show."  While Dawson said film permits cannot be denied based on content, unless it violates Hawaii pornography laws or other state rules, he added there have been no talks of a second season yet.

"If there is enough community objection to what they're doing, they will have a tough time moving forward, particularly with private property owners taking issue with how Maui is being portrayed or how that community is being portrayed," Dawson told The Maui News.

Rather than waiting to see if a second season of Maui Fever fails to materialize due to legal reasons, Camille Komine, an Oahu film art director and set designer, said she has another way to ensure it won't be back.

"The only way you can counter this is to not say, 'You are awful and bad.' It's to turn it off. If they don't get the ratings, they don't come back. You hit them where it hurts, in the wallet," Komine told The Maui News.



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