Monday, December 14, 2009
I kind of figured that the throwaway post on Jersey Shore would draw a certain amount of fire, given that the incident it was based on certainly has. To some it probably seemed as if I -- or really anyone who laughed at Snooki the gruesome Jersey stereotype getting tagged in the face by the Guido Terminator -- was condoning violence against women. Needless to say, at least as far as my own beliefs are concerned, that's just not the case.
What makes the most repugnant parts of Jersey Shore -- including and especially that moment of guy-on-girl violence -- so oddly enthralling is that it's almost impossible to fathom how creatures who appear at first glance to be actual human beings behave in ways that prove that, really, they aren't. And that's what makes Snooki getting clocked in the head so oddly amusing: Contrary to what your brain wants to make you believe, the women on Jersey Shore aren't women at all -- the same way the men aren't men. They're all nothing more than monkeys -- fucking Neanderthals who don't deserve the kind of deference or consideration you'd give to normal, decent people. Why do I chuckle at Snooki getting her clock cleaned? Because as far as I'm concerned, she's subhuman -- and so is the drunken 'roided out clown who hits her. Watching her go off on him and unwisely get in his face after they've both had far too many drinks at some Guido bar on the Jersey Shore -- and then seeing his inability to respond the way any normal human being would, any normal member of polite society -- I honestly can't help but think that I may as well be looking at apes throwing their crap at each other at the zoo. These aren't people -- they're reprehensible douchebags on a bad reality show. They're so far removed from the world you and I inhabit that it's almost impossible to classify them as the same species as the rest of us.
Is this a sickening way of thinking? Maybe. But there's simply no way that MTV -- like VH1, Bravo and every other network that traffics in shameless Schadenfreudian reality TV -- didn't understand that it's the trainwreck factor that makes people want to watch. Think about it: The only reason MTV would possibly air the image of a woman getting punched in the face is if the network knew full well that we'd be entertained by it.
One more thing: I'm of Italian descent. My family, at least one side of it, is about as Italian as you can get -- and nowhere, I mean nowhere in that family will you find anyone who behaves as consistently despicably as the low-lifes on Jersey Shore. So does that mean that I'm offended by the show and its depiction of largely Italian-American culture? No, of course not. First of all, despite the fact that there's no denying that the idiots on Jersey Shore are being told to amp up their inherent ridiculousness for the sake of making good TV, these fuck-wads do actually exist, otherwise MTV wouldn't have decided to create a reality show based around them in the first place. And that leads me to point number two: Stereotypes exist for a reason. Nobody pulls a preconceived notion about a specific group of people out of thin air. In the case of the Italian stereotype, although there aren't any in my particular family, I have met enough embarrassing Guidos and Guidettes in my time to know that they're not an uncommon phenomenon in hyper-Italian culture. Hell, hit the Feast of San Gennaro festival in New York's Little Italy sometime and you'll see how Italian stereotypes aren't simply on display -- they're damn well glorified. Which makes an attempt by some in the Italian-American community to vilify MTV for running a show like Jersey Shore seem slightly disingenuous. It's almost as if they're making the tired argument, "Well, we can make fun of our own people, but you can't."
The fact is that the easiest way to stop others from portraying you as buffoonish caricatures is to discourage those within your ranks from actually behaving that way.