Former professional wrestler Ric Savage has reinvented himself as a reality star over the past two weeks on Spike TV's "American Digger." On the show, Savage travels the country excavating, and eventually selling, artifacts from people's backyards. But he's dug himself quite a hole in the eyes of many in the digging hobbyist and academic communities.
Savage was recently ousted as a columnist at American Digger Magazine, a move the magazine's publisher Butch Holcombe announced on the online digging forum MyTreasureSpot.com.
In a post titled, "Some changes at American Digger Magazine," Holcombe wrote:
After much deliberation, we have decided to drop American Digger’ Magazine’s association with Rick Savage, who until this month wrote our Savage Facts column. The parting was amicable, and we appreciate his work on his column and past promotions of the magazine . We won’t lie, our dropping his association was in great part because of the controversy his TV show has created, and the confusion that American Digger Magazine had anything more than a passing association with the Spike TV series which shares our name. Please, if you enjoy or have enjoyed American Digger Magazine in the past, continue to do so, because we will not change our format: A good digging magazine for those more concerned with historical values than market values. We wish those connected with the show well, but had to further make a distinction between the magazine and show. We hope this helps clear things up.
The bevy of supportive comments from digging enthusiasts that follow Holcombe's announcement demonstrate a dissatisfaction with how Savage and the show are portraying the digging community. Commenters' criticisms include Savage's bombastic style, his "Boom, Baby!" catchphrase and the show's emphasis on selling historical artifacts for profit.
"Putting a price on everything you find is something I taught my son long ago not to do ... The show is an insult to diggers who truly enjoy making finds just for the pleasure of the history involved," wrote Treasure Spot commenter Shenandoah Digger.
"I have watched both episodes and was deeply disappointed in the showboating and chest thumping that was going on by Mr. Savage, and only Mr. Savage. That crap belongs in the wrestling ring and not the field and that's where he should have left it ... This is the second "reality" metal detecting show that has embarrassed this hobby," a commenter posting under the handle sqzdog chimed in.
The move is only the latest example of an emerging schism between Spike's "American Digger" and the academic digging community, which has also registered its disapproval of National Geographic's "Diggers." In early March, The American Anthropological Association sent Spike TV a letter "urging [the network] to withdraw or modify the contents" of "American Digger" because it "wrongly represents archaeology as a treasure-seeking adventure, in which our collective heritage is dug up and sold for monetary gain."
In an interview with The New York Times last week, Savage responded to the group's criticisms. “I understand where the archaeologists are coming from. You’ve got two groups of people who want to be part of history, to dig it up and hold it in their hand. The only difference is I’m doing it to make a living. They’re doing it to write papers and make it to associate professor and get tenure.”