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The Buried Life Uncovered

Courtney Cox | Thursday, February 25, 2010

The guys from “The Buried Life” seem to be living the life. They have a hit show on MTV that enables them to do everything they’ve wanted in life and they get paid for it. It definitely seems like a good gig, but is it genuine? Are these guys really this carefree and cool?
I had the opportunity to talk with Dave and Johnnie and it turns out they’re even cooler than they appear.
The project started four years ago in Victoria, British Columbia, from where the guys hail. Dave and Johnnie said they were sick of seeing their friends wasting their lives, and sick of doing what they were “supposed” to do. So they decided to use death as a motivating tool in their lives. It was supposed to compel them to do what they wanted most in life.  
When the pair asked their parents what they thought about this project, they responded with knowing laughs. They said they did get the expected questions, like “How are you going to do this?”
However, all of their parents were generally supportive. Not one told them not to follow through with what they had started.
While they were supportive, this support did not include monetary help. They raised the money for their project in their own community, but there were many times when money was an issue for them. It got hard to keep going when they were so poor, but that’s where the group came in. If two people were feeling really down about what they were doing and just wanted to quit and get a real job, then the other two were right there motivating them and reminding them why they started doing this in the first place.
They were offered a show in 2007, but elected not to take the pitch, as they were concerned about keeping   creative control. Today, they are very content with their involvement with MTV because the network simply acts as a vehicle for what they are doing. The four act as executive producers on the show and they are in full control of the editing. They wanted it to be made very clear that they were presenting something real. They wanted to show that normal people can do anything, because they are just that, normal guys in their mid-twenties. (Or at least they were.)
They would not call themselves celebrities, but they are certainly aware of their increased profile. It seemed to make them uncomfortable when asked if they were celebrities. Both Dave and Johnnie were reluctant to answer.
So how will this higher profile affect their project? If they do sign on for a second season it will be a little more difficult to find things they cannot do, which is almost the best part of the show. They still appear to be living the life, even if they do not cross off all the items on their list.
Perhaps the reason that Dave and Johnnie seemed so cool is that they were aware of the impact their project had on people, yet chose not to take any credit. They said that they were “just humbled to be a part of it.” What they really wanted to do when they started this project was to get other people to ask themselves to ask what they were going to do before they die. Once you acknowledge what you want to do, the next question is, why aren’t you doing anything to get there? This is the cool part about the guys on this show — they want it to inspire people, and not in a preachy way.
In addition to the questions I posed to Johnnie and Dave, they had one question for the people watching the show:  Everyone has something that they want to do as an individual, but what does our generation want to do as a group?
Only time will tell.