orange county choppers

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Orange County Choppers

     When I first saw the show, Orange County Choppers, on the Discovery Channel, I was a little bit confused about the premise of it. At first, the show is expressed as one about a family run business that builds custom motorcycles. But then, as I continued to watch the show, it occurred to me that it was intended to be a little bit more.
     Unlike traditional texts, “The structure of television makes us watch passively.” (The World is a Text, by Jonathan Silverman and Dean Rader, p.105) Orange County Choppers contradicts this statement. Through the development of the episode, the writers of the show force you to start analyzing the text of the show, actively. Paul Sr., mentions many events that have happened within the family, outside the show. Paul Sr. is the ‘old wise man’ in the show. He is father to Paul Jr. and Mikey. Mikey does all of the basic tasks required to run the business. Paul Jr. and Paul Sr. do most of the work on the bikes. There are other members of the staff at O.C.C. that are sometimes seen working on the bikes. The three Teutuls appear in every episode. In almost every case, family activities are never shown in any of the episodes. In the 9/11 Bike episode, Paul Sr. mentions a family reunion that later delays the completion of the bike. This tells you that the Teutul family is very loving and they do spend time together outside the show.
     This world renowned motorcycle shop has built bikes for many celebrities and sports stars. Orange County Choppers built a chopper for Shaquel O’Neal in one of the episodes. The dimensions of the bike were inconsistent with other bikes they have produced due to the height of Shaq.
     After reading the show actively, I realized that many of their family values don’t appear to be as one would expect. Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. continuously fight about features to add to a certain bike or how to go about adding them. Mikey, son of Paul Sr. and brother of Paul Jr., is always energetic and joking around. These contrasting personalities make for a great show but don’t represent your typical American family.
     The whole family works together to run the business, with most of the women in the family working behind the desks and keeping things organized, and most of the men in the family doing the labor.

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"orange county choppers." 23 Mar 2018
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Many families that watch this show could easily get the wrong impression, from this show, when it comes to family values. I think, the fact that none of the women in the family are physically working on the bike introduces sexism into the picture. The women never seem to make it in front of the camera, implying that women shouldn’t be working on the projects. I don’t think that this implication is intentional.
     I sometimes look down on the show because of what the publicity has done to the original company and the cast/family. In some message boards on the internet linked to the O.C.C. show on the Discovery Channel, viewers, who were once close to the family, said that the Teutul family has changed dramatically with the popularity that has recently entered into their lives. I can definitely see where these people are coming from. Many of O.C.C.’s regular customers have complained of the rising prices of services and products since the show’s premier in 2002. I don’t let other peoples’ opinions influence my decision to tune into the show or not.
     When I watch this show, I find myself wanting to see more of the process of building a bike, on the show. In every episode they send away the raw parts to be plated in a chrome finish. They also send the gas tank and fenders to the paint shop. Since they don’t do it in the shop, I wish that they would take a camera crew to the painting company and show the complete process of painting and plating of all of the bikes attributes.
     There are often many ways to view a situation on Orange County Choppers. For instance, in the Santa Clause Bike episode, Mikey, Paul Jr., and Paul Sr. go have a little fun at a local skiing resort. They take precious time out of the construction of a bike that would later be finished behind schedule. This outing also contradicts the statements expressed quietly in other scenes of the show. Paul Sr. often yells at the boys about finishing on time. But it does show somewhat of a family outing that brings the boys together. Even in this fun afternoon, you see no sign of any of the women in their family, even though it is away from the shop! When the director has the perfect opportunity to have the rest of the Teutul family all together, he doesn’t use it.
     The show, Orange County Choppers has captured the heart of millions! The witty brothers are always entertaining and the contrasting personalities within the family make the show interesting. Many issues about the social problems of our society today, emerge in almost every episode and are commonly overlooked. There are many people out in the world today who are so dedicated to their job, that time spent with family slips away. But, through active reading of the television text, we realize that almost all television shows can be read through the critical lens.

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