Christmas seems to have come early this year, and it’s obvious that Santa is a fan of both reality TV and those who (hilariously) lack a sense of self-awareness. You thought “Steven Seagal: Lawman” was good? Well, that was just a stocking stuffer compared to MTV’s latest masterpiece, entitled “Jersey Shore.”
This series follows a cast of eight self-proclaimed “guidos” and “guidettes” as they live together in a dream house, get bombed at the shore and work in a shop selling customized booty shorts. They do all this and still find time to maintain their spray tans while cooking Italian food and making out with each other.
So, basically, MTV has taken the stereotypes that we hated to love on “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” and merged them with a “Real World” set-up. How could it go wrong?
Well, believe it or not, there are actually a few people who don’t think that this is a winning formula. Perhaps you’ve heard of them — they’re called Italian Americans.
Both UNICO and the National Italian American Association have come out blasting the show as perpetuating negative stereotypes. (btw, UNICO was also opposed to “The Sopranos,” so I’m suspicious of them already.) They are offended by the use of the term “guido,” calling it a slur, yet the cast members repeatedly refer to themselves as such.
Are these organizations too sensitive or do they have a point?
Sure, it can be argued that reality shows are heavy on the “show” and light on the “reality,” but the script really writes itself when you put a group of twentysomethings together in a Barbie (Bocelli-Benigni) Dream House and don’t exactly encourage them to lay off the sauce. While there are, no doubt, editing tricks, you can’t really argue with the camera at the end of the day.
And thank goodness the cameras were there to pick up such gems as Nicole (AKA “Snooki”) showing up late for her first day of work because she was too busy puking her guts out after a night of whoring it up on the town. Or how about when Sammi (AKA “Sweetheart”) started off the night making out with one roommate only to end up sucking face with another a few hours later?
Don’t forget the fact that the two other girls, Angelina (“Jolie”) and Jenni (“J-Woww”) both ended up cheating on their boyfriends.
Surely the Italian Americans can’t be upset over a few measly sexual transgressions. I mean, I’ve seen worse on the CW, and those characters are totally WASPy! While “Gossip Girl” had a full-on threesome, “Jersey Shore” tactfully drew the line at having three random naked chicks sharing a hot tub with the guys.
Perhaps the show does exploit the guido stereotype. But stereotypes don’t just come out of thin air.
Pauly D is pretty confident in the idea that “girls are supposed to cook and the guys are supposed to eat …That’s how it is.” Additionally, Jolie scoffs when asked to cover Vinny’s shift at the booty short emporium, as it will cut into the three hours she has allotted to properly tease her hair for a night out on the town.
(By the way, Jolie is not a fan of working at the whore hut. “I feel like this job is beneath me,” she sniffs. “I’m a BARTENDER. I do, like, you know…great things.”)
MTV has defended the show, saying that it is just another look at a “subculture.” I have to agree with them here. Say “guido” and the image of a follicly lacquered, Cheeto-toned partier immediately comes to mind. They exist in droves; I’ve been to Jersey.
We’ve seen all types of characters highlighted on reality shows. People could just as easily argue that “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” is offensive to African Americans or that “Toddlers and Tiaras” is demeaning to obese washed-up mothers who are living vicariously through their pre-K daughters. But the thing is, these larger-than life personalities are interesting to watch.
It’s the reason why they’re on TV and we’re not.