Monday, December 14, 2009

Guinea Pigs


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.

32 comments:

Deacon Blue said...

Dear Mr. Pazienza,

My name is Pookie, and I am a chimpanzee.

I frankly find your characterization of us apes as "subhuman" and the talk of us flinging feces at each other to be deplorable.

Many of us live in bondage (and not the good kind like I used to be able to get with that hot domme orangutan and her apprentice, an equally hot young baboon) for your entertainment, and you laugh at our antics, little realizing that we are protesting your inhumane treatment and suffering from zoo-induced psychosis (ZIP) and human-induced primate anxiety syndrome (PAS).

Sir, we are not subhuman. We are more evolved that you superior-minded homo sapiens because we knew when to stop trying to figure things out. We knew nothing good would come of nuclear physics, and so we wisely stuck with bananas and fishing termites and ants out of their hills with sticks for a tasty snack.

The next time you compare me or my kin and peers to the cast of Jersey Shore, Mr. Pazienza, I can tell you at whom the poo will be flung next time.

And I have a very good lawyer.

Cordially,
Pookie

Anonymous said...

Truth? Better your people than mine.

Because MTV could've easily gone over to Lawn Giland (Long Island) to film all those - ahem - 'well behaved' NY Jews who pontificated what's known as JAP (Jewish American Princess) culture. I friggin' hate that term, but man, it fits.

Everytime I see some five towns, eye-rolling, hair flipping, Louis Vutton purse-carrying bitch shooting off her mouth somewhere, I just want to die and announce to everyone "Hey folks, not all Jews are like this."

I guess that stereotype is my cross to bear. He he - cross - get it?

Oh forget it...

Caren

FabMax said...

While I didn't watched the show, I met a few of those guidos, chavs, prolls or what you call'em, so I can say one thing. You're wrong about them, Chez.

They are human. Very much so, in fact. They are human being that haven't learned these nifty inhibitions that society teaches other people. And of course they have to rely on violence and verbal abuse to settle their conflicts, because their vocabulary is so small that they can't talk it out. Also, they probably learned that this is acceptable behaviour, as I guess their parents aren't much better.

Let's face it, we are cruel and violent animals at our core.

That's not to say that we can't make fun of these guys. Which is also a kind of aggressive behaviour, by the way.

Adrienne Saia said...

THANK YOU.

If I have to explain to one more bleeding-heart liberal (who has never actually ventured outside their pseudo-Buddhist hamlet nestled in the Rockies to experience reality - i.e. poverty, the fact that gluten isn't killing everyone in the U.S. - and actual social problems in any form) in Boulder that THESE PEOPLE ACTUALLY EXIST. I went to NJ every summer and SAW THEM. Hell, sometimes they even scrounged up $4 to cross the bridge into Philly (fuck, some of them LIVE in Philly).

Stereotypes, positive and negative, exist because they are common cultural markers that most can recognize. You hate it so much? Then don't act like it.

9:30am is entirely too fucking early to be up on this soap box.

Anonymous said...

-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.

Pure Gold!

Alanna said...

@ Caren your post made me chuckle :)

Now imagine being half-Jew (and Greek at that)/Half-Italian FROM Lawn Guyland. And try to defy all those sterotypes of the quintessential "pizza-bagel". How about an emphatic OY.

Stereotypes are perpetuated by this type of blatant glorification - as we see exemplified by "Jersey Shore". Ironically the 2 characters discussed in Chez's posts are from NY. Harumph. Snooki from Poughkeepsie and Roid Terminator - Doug Ferro - is from the Deer Park. Douche Bag central (w/money at that).

gina said...

I'm an Italian American woman. I love my olive skin, my hips, and my desire to feed people. I use my hands a lot when I talk, and I love my family. I make a mean gravy. I am kind, and smart.
However.
I enjoy watching that lucky troll getting hit in the face. I only wish there had been some sort of Great White pyrotechnic accident at that club that had trapped them all and burned their gene pools to the ground. I wish that the hot tub that they frolic in was full of some sterilizing agent that would never let these backwards fucktards reproduce.
These people are stupid, they exist, and they are disgusting. Gross, and not my kind.

joe said...

i don't know.. its still a girl getting hit in the face by a guy twice her size. its hard for me to believe that a reaction like that is even remotely acceptable due to a fight over stolen beer. i know this girls a joke, but shes about 5 feet tall and got punched in this face by a gym teacher. not really deserved.

Kevin M. Hagerman said...

I am fat and I would like to strongly oppose the stereotype that fat people are "jolly". I am not jolly. I seethe with rage.

But have you ever seen a fat guy seethe with rage? It'll put a smile on your face. THAT'S how we got labeled "jolly". Everything we do is amusing.

It's exhausting. I hit on a chick and all she says is "You're so funny!" I can't even get rejected!

LaRoach said...

I actually tried to watch this show after all the hype just to see what it was about. My frontal lobe threatened to hang itself with my optic nerve after about fifteen minutes.

Chez said...

First of all, Deac gets the Comment of the Week award, and it's only Monday.

Joe -- You'll notice I never said that this girl deserved to get socked, only that because of who she is -- who they all are -- I just can't work up any outrage over it.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you really believe what you're saying here. When people truly view others as less than human then anything is permitted to be done to them. See: Sudan, Rwanda, the Holocaust, etc...

I don't think you'd find it amusing at all if Snooki had been raped instead of punched. I think you'd be disgusted and outraged.

I don't think you are accurately describing the reasons you feel the way you do. I think it's probably not so much the subhuman thing as the idea that they are choosing to waste their lives in a way that disgusts you, and so when one of them is unseriously harmed while engaging in those disgusting behaviors, well, it looks a little bit like justice.

Alanna said...

Christ, hand me the viola.

Chez said...

You make a good point, jump to a ludicrous extreme, then basically answer your own question.

It's absolutely true that what these morons have chosen to do is what makes them not even worth giving a shit about. They weren't born this way -- they chose to become and behave this way. So, yes, there's a part of me that thinks that if you step in front of an oncoming train you can't really complain when it runs you over.

If Snooki had been hurt even worse it would've been contemptible, but, man, at some point you have to recognize your surroundings and for God's sake adapt to them. Don't be fucking stupid.

No, you can't poke a drunk bear with a stick, if you get my drift, and not expect what could very well be the consequences. It doesn't mean you deserve it or that you were asking for it -- not by any stretch of the imagination -- but you should damn well know the kind of dirtbags you're dealing with and accept that you have to adjust your behavior accordingly (or better yet, stay the hell away from those kinds of people).

Regardless, I go back to my original point: I save my outrage for people who have misfortune thrust upon them through little fault of their own. People who willfully jump into the lion's den and get eaten? Sorry, can't work up much sympathy for you.

Chez said...

Sorry for all the mixed metaphors, incidentally.

em said...

"Joe -- You'll notice I never said that this girl deserved to get socked, only that because of who she is -- who they all are -- I just can't work up any outrage over it."

That's the entire point...no one mentioned the word "deserve".

"I don't think you really believe what you're saying here. When people truly view others as less than human then anything is permitted to be done to them. See: Sudan, Rwanda, the Holocaust, etc..."

Um, genocide >>>>>>>>>>>>> this person who willingly signed up for this piece of shit TV getting punched in the face. Give me a fucking break.

brandi said...

I just don't see the big deal. Sometimes guys deserve a good punch in the face. Sometimes women do too. It's equality, people!

Deacon Blue said...

Thanks, Chez. But you know, I'm just passing Pookie's letter along. We're getting together to have a daiquiri or two tonight and bitch about our mates.

Russell said...

Adrienne S:

"pseudo-Buddhist hamlet nestled in the Rockies"

You have to be talking about my home town, Boulder... and you are absolutely correct in your estimation!

7 square miles surrounded by reality.

Anonymous said...

Not being from the US, I only know of this show from a few sites I read and am totally on board with the understanding that watching it is a less pleasant exercise than slashing your own wrists--

but PLEASE can someone tell me if it's pronounced "guide-o" (like tour guide) or "gwee-do"? I suppose I could just keep pronouncing it "dick-heads" like we do here in Aus.

Chez said...

It's completely tasteless, but one of my favorite lines about this kind of thing is from comedian Bill Burr. He says, "Listen lady, I'm not gonna hit you -- but at least act like I could."

I think that's one of those things that strikes me (no pun intended) about the whole Jersey Shore thing. I've seen the previews for this week's show -- when Snooki gets socked. Her reaction afterward is priceless. It's shock. She's screaming, "You hit a girl!" It's like, "Yeah, you idiot. He hit you. What the fuck did you expect? Did you really think this troglodyte was gonna behave like a gentleman?" I've seen enough really drunk girls go off on guys in bars in ways that, did they not have breasts, would've gotten them knocked to the floor in three seconds flat. They do it because they know -- or at least assume -- they can. Once again, this dimwitted piece of Jersey Shore trash didn't deserve to get punched out -- but I'll bet she'll never again make the mistake of thinking it isn't possible.

Vermillion said...

Thank you. THank you so very much.

Dear BET et al.,

Take this...

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.

and choke on it.

Love,

A black guy

Doc said...

Oooh, here's 'Your Jersey Shore Nickname' Generator

FYI:
Chez Pazienza -> Jackie Orangina

BenoƮt from Ottawa said...

@ Anonymous 5:51: Gweedo fer shure; eye-talian style...

grenada red said...

I grew up on the Jersey Shore. I left when I went to college in 1978. The only thing that shocks me about this program is that it appears that things haven't changed. We didn't call them Guidos then, but they were definitely an entity. These were the kids who embraced disco and they had their names painted in script on the sides of their camaros. Just listen to Zappa's homage to them on Zoot Allures and you'll totally get it.

Thank God for Bruce in Asbury Park and road trips to CBGBs to see the Ramones. I managed to escape relatively unscathed and have gone on to produce some very thoughtful children.

For Anonymous in Aus - it's gwee-do

LaRoach said...

Russell and Adrienne S: Speaking as a Boulder native that's why I got the fark out. Too many Californians showed up in 80's and screwed the place up!

Sheriff Bart said...

Well I know I will never ever hit a girl. Because they are so weak and defenseless. If a girl ever came up to me and said "I could do things much better than you." I would laugh and remind her that this great country of ours has been founded on the blood and sweat of Great American Men. Then she would laugh and realize how silly she is. Then she would bake me a pie and we would continue the night enjoying the carnal pleasures of the missionary position.

Le Penseur said...

"They do it because they know -- or at least assume -- they can."

That's the problem right there in a nutshell Chez: the sexist double standard that requires men to respect women but does not require women to respect men. They can call it feminism all they like, but it's just chauvinism in a dress. It's all part of the female supremacist conspiracy to turn us into a gynocracy.

strangelittlegirl said...

Let me tell you a little story: I was a small-town girl that lived happily in NYC for almost 8 years. You know what finally drove me out? Being mugged at gunpoint? Being physically assaulted? Being thousands of dollars in debts in a recession? Being masturbated on in the subway, not once, but twice? No. Moving from jolly Brooklyn to SI to offset costs and having to live and work amongst these non-humans. I can't even describe it. They are nasty, ungrateful, and refuse to work. They are spoiled beyond compare and will make your life hell. And I'm 30 years old.

So I will watch Jersey Shore every week in the sincere hopes that some sort of natural disaster will engulf that house (an early 2012? Tsunami?) and I will happily watch Snickers get sucker punched again and again and again from the privacy of my much nicer apartment in PA...! Trust me, I know these kids!

Bunche said...

In full agreement, Chez. And Vermillion? Preach, brutha. I am sooooo with you.

Chez said...

It just warms my heart that you've deigned to visit my little corner of the internet, Bunche -- you who basically inspired it. And not just that, but to comment!

It's honestly a great Christmas present. : ) Hope you're well, my friend.

Anonymous said...

My ex-sister-in-law is still waiting for her beat down.

I have non-sequential cash.