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Medium: Jersey Shore — the fake reality

BY TOMMY MORGAN JR. | JANUARY 21, 2010 7:30 AM

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MTV’s latest foray into vomit-inducing reality television, “Jersey Shore” is perhaps its worst yet.

“Jersey Shore” centers on eight overly tanned and under-educated 20-somethings living (where else?) on the Jersey Shore.

The show, for the most part, is modeled after “The Real World.” However, unlike on that flagship reality show, the cast members of “Jersey Shore” aren’t interested in keeping it real. Instead, they revel in the fake. Spiked hair, tacky jewelry, and enough Mystic Tan to make even the most egregious Midwestern spring-breaker OD are the show’s hallmarks. One cast member, Snooki, said on one episode that her ideal man would be the most hair-gelled and roided-up “guido” she could find.

At its best, “Jersey Shore” is just another MTV “reality” show that gets by on unreal personalities and more fakery than a PETA member’s fur coat. At its worst — and “Jersey Shore” is always at its worst — the program shows us just how far we’ve fallen as a culture.

For some perspective, the most normal person on the show (who actually gets screen time) is a 27-year-old named Mike. He seems the most normal because he doesn’t appear to spend as much time gelling his hair as the rest of the guys and a thought occasionally wafts through his mind. Of course, he talks about his abs more than any human being should, continually referring to them as “The Situation,” but compared with the rest of the immaculately coiffed cast, that doesn’t seem all that farfetched.

From the moment “Jersey Shore” began occupying a time slot probably better spent on reruns of “Teen Cribs,” the show has drawn ire from many. New Jersey tourist groups and Italian-American associations have criticized the show for its embrace of the term “guido,” a derogatory slur against Italian Americans. The word comes up seemingly every 30 seconds, mostly as a term of endearment, despite its horribly negative connotations. The outcry has been so much that corporations, including pizza giant Domino’s, pulled ads from the show only a few weeks into its run.

When Domino’s, of all companies, pulls ads from a show because it’s offensive to Italians, something has gone horribly wrong.

When it seemed as if things couldn’t get worse, women’s groups started (rightfully) decrying MTV because of the promotion of an episode in which Snooki is punched by a man at a bar — and punched hard. Leveled, really. MTV made the punch the focus of its advertising for the episode, much to the ire of women’s groups everywhere. Just when the show’s characters made it a ridiculous and insulting joke, MTV as a corporation decided to jump right on in and make itself look as ridiculous as the caricatures cast for “Jersey Shore” by using the clip to profit.

The network soon issued several mea culpas in regards to both the show’s portrayal of Italian Americans and its use of violence against women as a profit and entertainment vehicle. But still, “Jersey Shore” continues to hit the airwaves every Thursday night.

At this point, the only way this show could get any worse would be if it did a crossover with “The Hills,” thereby creating some sort of douche-bag singularity representing everything wrong with America in one convenient location.

From the show to its advertising (or lack thereof), everything about “Jersey Shore” is an unattractive, bottle-tanned mess.


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