For weeks I've been reading and hearing about a new show on MTV called Jersey Shore that I was told is guaranteed to be offensive to Italian-Americans to the point that it has been protested and at least one advertiser (Domino's Pizza) has pulled its ads from the show. That meant I had to see it.
I swallowed hard and watched not one, but two episodes of this show.
The premise is that the producers have taken 8 kids from the New York area and put them together in a beach house in Seaside Heights, New Jersey - hence the name. Then, as is the formula, a camera crew follows them around filming their antics.
I don't understand what is offensive about it, since the kids portray themselves as "Guido's" and "Guidettes." They are perpetuating the stereotype because they are the stereotype. At first, I thought that the people protesting the show had a point, but now I'm not so sure. If someone goes on TV and calls themself "fat" should we protest because it's offensive to overweight people? I lost track of the number of times they used the word "Guido" to describe themselves. They know what they are, and they're proud of it - one would think.
It isn't as though it was a scripted show (although it might be) and some writer is making it up - these people actually exist, so if Domino's wants to pull their advertising, or some Italian-American groups want to file a protest, they should be protesting the characters, not the show. Those people would be acting like that regardless of whether they're on TV or not.
As for the show, it's reprehensible on many levels, but oddly interesting. They think they're so cool and beautiful (to the point that one of the girls actually calls herself "hot") and I can't help but wonder what their parents are thinking now that the show is on the air.
One of my favorite moments came when one of the girls (Hoopi or Snookie - something) called her dad and told him that she was leaving after 2 days because she felt like an outcast, which I'd guess is her most redeeming quality. Dad, in his fatherly wisdom encourages her to stick it out and not be a "quitter," as if to say, "It's OK, soon you'll be making friends and having promiscuous sex like the rest of them. Be patient." Naturally, she stayed.
I'm watching their antics in the nightclub and in the house and I'm thinking, "I wonder if they realize that this is going to be on television?" They're wonderfully uninhibited, and seem to revel in themselves. Anyone outside their ethnic circle doesn't exist and they profess to only be attracted to other Guido's and Guidettes to the point that they'll actually tell you to get lost if you dare to approach them.
Oddly, with 8 characters on the show you'd figure that I could find at least one to like and root for, but alas, I cannot. It's disconcerting. They're all either full of themselves, users and/or the kind of people you'd like to run over with a lawnmower.
Of course, nobody outside their social circle would want anything to do with them - unless you just wanted to score a quick BJ or hang with one of them for a few hours and go home. It's really a closed society, and part of me felt sorry for them being so naive of the rest of the world and the fact that their behavior is socially abhorrent.
The fact that they don't care what we think is probably why they're on TV in the first place, and I found it to be a mild stroke of genius that the producers found them and put them together in a house. It's yet another example of odd behavior being foist upon us, and we're supposed to be shocked that such people exist and are willing to be exploited, even if they don't think they are being exploited - which might be the crux of the program, if it indeed has a crux.
I actually might watch it again. It's sort of like going on a safari to see wildlife in its natural habitat. Then you go back to your office cubicle and resume your life. Meanwhile, the animals are galavanting around, oblivious to you and your mundane (by their standards) lifestyle. Watching the show is probably the only way I'd get to see people like that interacting in the wild.
And it's not nearly as offensive as the show they promoted during it ad nauseum - Teen Mom.