MTV’s new show, Jersey Shore, is a hit. Whether people are watching it for the train wreck possibilities or because they actually enjoy it doesn’t matter. MTV put a crass, decadent show on the air and is being rewarded for it. From Wikipedia:
Jersey Shore is a television series on MTV that follows 8 housemates spending their summer on the Jersey Shore. In it, the show examines the lives of young adults living and vacationing on the various resort towns in the northern part of the Jersey Shore, more specifically the town of Seaside Heights, where they live in a common living space and help to run a t-shirt store. The show plays upon the stereotype of the guido.
The show is full of fist-pumping, hair gel, and people who have no sense of shame.
I’m no prude. Nor do I have anything against reality shows. I’ve been known to watch Wife Swap and I’m a big fan of Cops and Intervention. But Jersey Shore has accomplished what no reality show before — no matter how tasteless, worthless, or contrived — has. It has infuriated me.
As a parent, it horrifies me. As an Italian, it embarrasses me. As a woman, it demeans me. And as a human being, it disgusts me.
The young adults in this show have nicknames like J-WOWW and “The Situation.” They are obsessed with their bodies, tanning, and sex. The girls openly talk about trying to sleep with as many guys as they can. One spoke candidly about stealing guys from other girls. The guys are rough and abrasive; in the opener, one guy gets physically abusive with one of the girls. They are vain, self-obsessed egomaniacs who spend hours on physical and cosmetic self-improvement but not one minute on improving their personalities. Which are, to say the least, offensive.
I look at Jersey Shore and the first thing that comes to my mind is that their parents are watching. Then I think that there’s got to be a reason they think this is all right. Were all these kids raised to believe that they are the best looking? Were they raised to think that they deserve to be worshiped and that they’re the ultimate catch for any member of the opposite sex? Do they think sex is just a game or a hobby? They had to get the idea somewhere that this behavior is acceptable, and I’m guessing it’s from nobody ever telling them it’s not acceptable. At least not in normal society.
Jersey Shore is not normal society. It’s a microcosm of a small culture of the people known as guidos and guidettes, whose type was made popular by the show Growing up Gotti. They embrace every Italian stereotype and make those stereotypes larger than life.
That MTV glamorizes this decadent, risky, and abhorrent lifestyle shouldn’t be a surprise given some of their other programming, but I’m still shocked at just how bad this show is. If it’s not the drinking and sexually promiscuous behavior that’s going to set a horrible example for MTV’s young viewers, then it’s the physical violence. In one episode, one of the male Jersey boys punches one of the females in the head. He punches her so hard that her hat goes flying. Is this what MTV calls entertainment?
Like I said, I’m not a prude. I have no problem with television shows that deal with adult themes and I’m always of the “if you don’t like it, change the channel” mindset, which is what I’ve done and will continue to do. But, one has to wonder, who is watching this show and why? I’m sure other people who live this lifestyle are glued to their televisions, but who else watches this? People who like train wrecks, presumably. They don’t concern me as much as the young, impressionable kids who are watching this garbage. To see the “guido” lifestyle of wanton sex, binge drinking, and valuing yourself for your sexuality and looks displayed like its something to strive for saddens me. Teenagers and young adults have so many mixed messages thrown at them already in the form of advertisements and entertainment. Adding this popular television show to the mix only makes heavier the burden parents and educators have to steer kids in the right direction.
As of today — and the show has only aired twice so far — Jersey Shore has lost two major sponsors, with Domino’s Pizza and American Family Insurance pulling their ads.
Years from now, when people look back at our culture at this point in time, I fear that Jersey Shore and its eight guidos and guidettes will be representative of the popular culture of now. That is a terrible shame.