“It's a Jersey Thing”
Reality T.V: we love to hate it. Our obsession with reality television ranges from singing competitions, to weight loss shows, to Italian-Americans fist-pumping their way through the Jersey Shore one night club at a time. The infamous cast members on Jersey Shore made a name for themselves by teaching us ways of the GTL lifestyle, but not everyone was happy about the shows dominance within reality television. Anyone who has seen Jersey Shore would agree that it's practically nothing more than a loud group of obnoxious party animals who have somehow integrated themselves into popular culture, created their own slang words, and became instant celebrities. The show not only caused controversy regarding their casual use of stereotypical slang terms such as “Guido” and “Guidette”, it also negatively represented the state of New Jersey as a whole.
“Our Guido's and Guidette's will move into the ultimate beach house rental and indulge in everything Seaside Heights, New Jersey has to offer!” (MTV, 2010). The problem is not only that Jersey Shore is extremely tasteless and idiotic, the show's crazy antics have given a bad name to the state of New Jersey, and residents are not happy about the show's portrayal of life in the Garden State. While it's entertaining for those in other areas of the U.S. to watch their shenanigans unfold, residents of New Jersey feel they have a different idea in mind of what the typical young adult on vacation should appear to be. One New Jersey resident stated, “Snookie is not what the average young women from New Jersey is like at all” (Zurko, 2010).
While Jersey Shore shows the cast members as a group of uneducated and obnoxious binge drinkers vacationing in New Jersey, it's interesting to note that most of the cast members are actually from New York. So, why is it that these native New Yorkers are giving New Jersey a bad name? New Jersey Governor Chris Christie agrees: “What it does is take a bunch of New Yorkers, drops them at the Jersey Shore and tries to make America feel like this is New Jersey” (Vozick-Levinson, 2010). While it is no argument that the show has a bit of a bad reputation, one of the larger issues is that viewers are only exposed one area of the state (Seaside Heights) and attribute all New Jersey residents to embody the Guido lifestyle. Jersey Shore leaves many viewers to believe that all residents of New Jersey are similar to the cast members on the show (Sacco, 2011). “What most viewers of the show forget is that the show is not about New Jersey; its about young adults who come to New Jersey for vacation at the Jersey Shore. I think what some viewers are forgetting is that these cast members are not natives of the state at all.” (Sacco, 2011).
The results of a 2012 New Jersey poll showed that 69% of Garden State voters agreed that the show is bad for New Jersey's image (Frassinelli, 2012). This makes me wonder: how is it that within the exact same year, New Jersey residents and citizens everywhere were criticizing the show for its lack of creativity and negative portrayal of Italian Americans, yet the cast was on Barbara Walter's “10 Most Fascinating People” list? The answer is simple: we love to hate them. Our obsession over reality television stems from our obsession over watching what we feel is “reality”; real characters and unscripted situations (see what I did there?).
When it comes to residents of the state to the Governor of the state, it's clear to see that everyone thinks Jersey Shore is bad for their reputation. Not only does Jersey Shore give the state a bad name, the cast members have also been an embarrassment to the Italian culture and their portrayal within American popular culture and television. With their fake tans, loud mouths, constant fighting, and GTL lifestyle, it's easy for viewers to see that the cast has given a bad name to Italian-Americans living in New Jersey. The show portrays the lifestyle of what the cast members themselves describe as “Guido's” and “Guidette's”; slang terms associated with the Italian culture. Interestingly enough though, along with the cast members not originating from the state the show is filmed in, not everyone in the cast is of Italian descent. J-Woww stated, “Guidette is a stereotype that people misconstrued with Italians – it's a lifestyle. We're not trying to imitate Jersey, we're not trying to be Italians, it's just our lifestyle.” (The Marquee Blog, 2010).
In the end, Jersey Shore has basically done all that it had intended to do in regards to the reputation of New Jersey. Introduced were a loud group of twenty-somethings that gave viewers a weekly train wreck-in the-making show to obsess over for the three years that it was on television. Jersey Shore gave us our weekly dose of the Guido and Guidette lifestyle; or so we thought. I think that the cast has done all they can do to become outdated and boring fairly quickly. We can only watch Snookie and J-Wow's annoying habits for so long before we too become tired of them and move on to a new reality show to love to hate.
Frassinelli, Mike (2012). No GTL! Majority of voters say 'Jersey Shore' is bad for N.J. The Star- Ledger. http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/03/majority_of_voters_say_jersey.html
No Author (2010). Jersey Shore's J-Woww: Snooki and I aren't Italian. The Marquee Blog. CNN Entertainment. http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2010/02/17/jersey-shores-j-woww-snooki-and-i- arent-italian/
MTV (2010). “MTV”. http://www.mtv.ca/sitewide/errors/error404.jhtml
Sacco, Christopher (2011). MTV's 'Jersey Shore' – Ruining the State One Bar Brawl at a Time. http://eastbrunswick.patch.com/groups/opinion/p/mtvs-jersey-shore-ruining-the-states- reputation-one-b54072f06e6
Vozick-Levinson, Simon (2010). N.J. Governor Christie says 'Jersey Shore' is bad for his state. Entertainment Weekly. http://popwatch.ew.com/2010/07/26/jersey-shore-governor-christie/
Zurko, Roz (2010). MTV's 'Jersey Shore' Won't Tarnish New Jersey's Reputation for Much Longer. http://voices.yahoo.com/mtvs-jersey-shore-wont-tarnish-jerseys-reputation-6318820.html