ABC show Big Sky angers trucking groups

by Abdul Latheef

ARLINGTON, Va. – Trucking groups are hitting back at ABC over a new show, Big Sky, which they say tarnish the industry’s image.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) alleged that the series portrays truck drivers as serial killers and truck stops as hubs of prostitution and human trafficking.

“This representation is offensive, inaccurate, tasteless, ill-timed, tone deaf and shameful,” the organization said in a blog post titled “#BigSkyLies: The Truth about America’s Highway Heroes.”

American Trucking Associations

Big Sky, based on the 2013 novel The Highway by Charles J. Box, debuted in Canada and the U.S. on Nov. 17.

The story revolves around two sisters kidnapped by a truck driver on a highway in Montana.

“While its news division got the story right, it seems its entertainment division didn’t get the memo,” ATA said of the positive coverage by ABC News of truck drivers and other frontline workers in the fight against Covid-19.

“There are no Emmy Awards for these working Americans, but the media can and should use their platforms to honor their sacrifices and selflessness,” ATA said. 

ABC did not respond to Today’s Trucking’s repeated requests for comments on the controversy.

Petition campaign

ATA is now urging members to sign a petition seeking free air time on ABC to dispute the claims, saying “truckers are not serial killers, they are highway heroes”.

“We are respectfully asking ABC give the trucking industry complimentary air time to run advertisements that fairly represent truckers, and educate viewers about what the industry is doing to combat human trafficking through Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT).”

TAT, which was founded in 2009, has been playing a crucial role in the fight against human trafficking. It expanded to Canada in September 2019, and also operates in Mexico.

TAT has been playing a crucial role in the fight against human trafficking. (Photo:TAT)

In an email to Today’s Trucking on Wednesday, the organization said the show reinforces harmful stereotypes.

“In a year when so many Americans have had their eyes opened to the invaluable role professional drivers play in keeping our country moving, and given the fact that the trucking industry has, for over a decade, been collectively uniting to combat the evils of human trafficking, Big Sky not only misses the mark, but also reinforces harmful stereotypes,” said Kendis Paris, executive director and co-founder of TAT.

“It is time we hold the entertainment industry to a higher standard.”

TAT-trained truck drivers help law enforcement to rescue victims. There are more than 975,000 certified truckers in the U.S. alone.

In popular culture

It is not the first time, though, truck drivers have been portrayed negatively in movies and on television.

In the 1991 road movie Thelma and Louise, Marco St. John’s plays the role of a perverted truck driver women dread meeting.

Steven Spielberg’s debut movie Duel, released in 1971, portrays a truck driver as a stalker.

And, a 1999 episode of The Simpsons had Homer and Bart making a delivery for a truck driver who suddenly dies of food poisoning.

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  • Whatever happened to shows like Cannonball?
    Corny theme, consistent low level acting
    consistent, clean and reasonably entertaining.
    Classic television.
    Then again; when does a truck driver have time to watch TV when they are on the road so much!

  • In this time of challenges attracting new talent and drivers, our industry needs as much positive image as possible. But we need to change from within too. It’s a daily occurrence to see a big truck trying to use their size to intimidate somebody to go faster, or change lanes, or retaliate after some action. ABC has done the industry a disservice, from the sounds of things (I haven’t seen the show discussed), but the industry has to help with that image by promoting and even more so, demonstrating, the image and professionalism that we are trying to be recognised for.

    While the industry is recognised for its efforts to ensure shelves stay full, the power stays on, etc., drivers continue to act in ways, even posting videos of behaviours, that reinforce the fiction of this series, making it seem like a documentary.

  • I drove for 10 years. Many truckstops have women looking for “commercial company” calling out on the cb, not to mention that annoying knock on the driver’s door in the middle of critical sleep. As far as serial killers driving trucks, there have been quite a few. Most are never caught. A quick internet search will enlighten you if you’re lacking information. OF COURSE not all drivers are serial killers! Anyone offended by a FICTION story on TV has issues that are worse than their industry image.