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|Written by Steve Dominey|
|Friday, 11 December 2009 08:17|
Jersey Shore is pretty much like everything else on MTV. Hell, it's why we watch MTV. Pack a house with young, dumb, sexy strangers, stock the bar with enough alcohol to kill John Daly, then mix and serve.
Dancing, drinking, fighting, fucking. What's the problem here? We've seen it all before and we like it. It's a fantastic formula.
Unfortunately, it's also racist, or so says Italian-American interest group Unico National. They say a reality show that depicts Italian-Americans as the "hottest, tannest, craziest Guidos" is offensive and should've been scrapped before it aired.
Andre DiMino, president of the largest Italian-American service organization in the U.S., told the New York Times he found the contestants' behavior "reprehensible and demeaning in all respects."
"I don't see any redeeming value in the show," said DiMino. "They are an embarrassment to themselves and to their families."
Clearly DiMino has never watched reality TV. This is what reality contestants do. They embarrass themselves. They embarrass their family. And they do it all for us.
Italian-American interest groups need to look past the colour of these people's impeccably spray-tanned skin and see these 'Guidos' for who they really are: young, stupid people. Being Italian is almost beside the point.
And c'mon, we've all taken our lumps here. Do you think white people are proud of Spencer Pratt and Paris Hilton?
Do you think the citizens of Singapore will hold a parade in Tila Tequila's honour? (Remember, in Singapore, they cane you for spitting in the street. Saliva is just one of many fluids that Tequila's responsible for each episode.)
And where in Dr. Martin Luther King's famous speech does it say, "I have a dream...that a young, fat black girl will shit on the stairs in the second season of Flavor of Love"?
I mean, the pantyless girl lost control of her bowels, shat through her mini-skirt and left a big piece of turd on Flavor Flav's floor for everyone to discover. Then, later in the episode, actually said she was glad it happened because now Flav would notice her.
I guess the NAACP was sleeping on that one.
Not to mention the poor Muslim interest groups. After watching Jack Bauer unearth sleeper cells for eight seasons and counting, they'd practically kill to see a Muslim-American girl dishing out hot tub hand-jobs on Spike. At least a handie's never got anyone beaten up in the street for no good reason.
Still, DiMino believes Jersey Shore will look bad on Italian-Americans, perpetuating previous negative stereotypes.
"We just can't remain silent," said DiMino. "We've lived through The Sopranos when we were all gangsters and thugs, and now we're being portrayed as buffoons."
"Portrayed?" Unlike The Sopranos, which was of course a scripted series, Jersey Shore is a reality show, and while reality shows are almost entirely fake, the people in them are real. Yes, aspiring actresses in most cases, but real all the same.
And these particular people have no objection with the show.
One of the show's 'Guidettes', Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, said, "I feel we are representing Italian-Americans. We look good. We have a good time. We're nice people. We get along with everybody."
(Not sure it's relevant in this case, but this little firecracker tried to bang all four male cast mates before she unpacked her suitcase.)
Mike Sorrentio, the cast member who nicknames his abs "The Situation," also doesn't see the stereotypes DiMino said the show purportedly depicts.
"Is there a dictionary definition of how Italian-Americans should be portrayed?" asks the Staten Island native. "I know I didn't hold back and I'm not too worried about what people think. When I look in the mirror, I feel good."
So, if the characters have no problem with how they're being portrayed - - unlike other reality programs such as Survivor where contestants often complain about how the show is edited to depict them unfairly -- it seems DiMino's real problem is with the way these people live their lives.
And while these cast mates are undoubtedly idiots, they're also undeniably harmless. Well, at least they're not shitting out children on 18 Kids & Counting.
Jersey Shore depicts one subset of Italian-American culture. And it's one helluva entertaining subset. Perhaps it's unfortunate that the characters on Jersey Shore don't better represent Italian-Americans as a whole, but that's the way television works. Everything can't be The Cosby Show.
In reality TV especially, producers aren't looking for normal people in everyday situations. That would be boring. Hence, the crazy crab fisherman on Discovery's The Deadliest Catch, the compulsive pack rats on A&E's almost-too-disgusting-to-watch Hoarders, and the rich bitches on Bravo's The Real Housewives of Orange County.The 'Guidos' on Jersey Shore are no different. They make for good TV. They're not stereotypes, they're themselves. And thank God for that.