Embracing the virtues of modesty and humility, the Amish have long deplored publicity and promotion. Nevertheless, media of all types have focused more attention on the Amish in recent years.
Coverage of the Amish by print media began in the first half of the twentieth century. Media coverage increased dramatically in television and film in the last quarter of the twentieth century. The feature film Witness was widely viewed in the United States and abroad in 1986.
Later films and television series such as Aaron’s Way and For Richer or Poorer, Plain Truth, Kingpin, Harvest of Fire, and Stoning in Fulham County depicted Amish life with various levels of authenticity. Devil’s Playground, featuring rebellious teens during Rumspringa, appeared on HBO in 2004. A reality TV series, Amish in the City, depicted Amish youth and non-Amish youth living together in Los Angeles.
The BBC aired two documentaries, Trouble in Amish Paradise in 2009 and Leaving Amish Paradise in 2010. British Channel 4 produced a reality show, Amish: the World Squares Teens, in 2010. National Geographic, using ex-Amish people and actors, aired Amish at the Altar in 2010, followed by a ten-part series, Amish: Out of Order, in 2012. Two multi-episode “reality TV” series, Breaking Amish and Amish Mafia, were largely fictional and quite egregious in their portrayal of Amish life.
- See chapter 20, “The Amish in Print,” and chapter 21, “Tourism and Media,” in Donald B. Kraybill, Karen M. Johnson-Weiner, and Steven M. Nolt, The Amish (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013).
- Valerie Weaver-Zercher, Thrill of the Chaste: The Allure of Amish Romance Novels (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2013).
- David Weaver-Zercher, The Amish in the American Imagination (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2001).
- David Weaver-Zercher and Diane Zimmerman Umble, eds., The Amish and the Media (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2008).