Just last week, the second season of Jersey Shore premiered on MTV to over 5 million viewers. While many people (sadly including myself) tuned in to witness the train wrecks that are The Situation, Snooki, Sammi, DJ Pauly D, Ronnie, Vinny, JWoww and Angelina, I’m sure that many others flipped the channel in disgust. And who can blame them? The cast members have become caricatures of themselves at this point, with their lives revolving around sex, alcohol, hair gel and the now-famous concept of GTL (Gym, Tan, Laundry). Does anyone really take them seriously anymore?
Of course, there are plenty of Italian-American organizations out there who are urging people not to watch the show. Such groups are so offended by the “Guido” stereotypes perpetuated by the Jersey Shore cast that they have even begged MTV to drop the show completely. And from an outsider’s perspective, I can see why these groups might take offense — none of the cast members have much to offer (with the slight exception of Pauly D, because at least he’s a decent DJ) besides the ability to cause a scene and get arrested. Pair that together with the fact that they are constantly trying to represent the young Italian-American community, and it’s obvious that no reasonable person of the same ethnicity would want to be associated with them.
However, what critics fail to recognize is that the Jersey Shore cast doesn’t so much speak negatively about Italian-Americans, but rather about our society as a whole. On the show, Italians and non-Italians display completely trashy behavior that no one who has to live a grown-up life could ever abide by. The cast itself is not even entirely composed of Italians, even though they do try to represent their self-proclaimed “Guido” lifestyles nonetheless. In each episode they interact with a number of people — the girls they bring home for one-night-stands, the guys heckling them at the bars, and various others — to the point where it’s not about poorly representing Italian-Americans anymore. It really just reveals what’s wrong with our young culture in its entirety.
I’m no Puritan, but I can honestly say that the emphasis on drinking and sex is so excessive that it makes me wonder if that’s really all our generation wants to hold onto. How empty must people be for the GTL lifestyle (which, let’s face it, is not even remotely limited to the show) has become their own? When did we stop meeting socially for fun and conversation, and start hooking up with the first person drunk enough to accept us?
Jersey Shore and reality television definitely emphasize a wild lifestyle — perhaps even wilder than our own — but we still seem to be headed in that direction. I’m not saying there’s anything bad about going out and having a good time, but it’s important to remember moderation and to know about more than just how to hold your liquor.
After all, you have a lot more to offer than that. : )