This winter, television viewers are quietly tuning into MTV Canada to indulge in a new guilty pleasure, reality series Jersey Shore. How much can one expect out of a reality television show about eight “Guidos” (stereotypical Italian-Americans who enjoy being “jacked and tan” and are always confident and sometimes to a fault) in their early twenties looking to get drunk and hook up with randoms? Needless to say, the expectations weren’t high.
The characters chosen to be documented – such as Mike “The Situation” who calls himself by that sobriquet because his abs are so ripped that they are “the situation”; Pauly, a DJ who “never leaves home without his hair gel,” and Snooki who is the bubbly, petite and confident self-proclaimed “queen of the Guidettes” – are constantly getting themselves into fights and drama and personal turmoil. This leads to such outrageous and idiotic dilemmas that one cannot help but tune in to see what these barrel of Guido monkeys are up to each week.
MTV’s newest reality television acquisition, from its birth, had the sticky air of notoriety looming around it. If anyone is at all in tune with popular culture, they would have heard about the “Snooki Punch.” The fourth episode of the series had a clip of a female getting punched by a grown man extremely larger than her. This specific clip has become a YouTube phenomenon, being viewed almost two million times, and has everyone talking about it. ABC News anchors suggest that the specific clip should be pulled from airtime, along with the rest of the show, and dubbed it “Trash TV.” Italian American groups are also mad because of the negative depiction the television show gives to their heritage.
Though the Snooki Punch led to a media driven moral scrimmage, everyone in Jersey Shore took time out from their superficial cares of looking good, drinking, and getting laid. In turn, what surfaced is something that, at first glance as depicted in the first episode, did not seem to exist: a moral fibre shared by all of the house members that prompted them to care for their wounded friend. Jersey Shore met all of its expectations, but surprisingly, in some moments, like the Snooki Punch episode, the expectations are exceeded.
The reality television genre phenomenon born at the turn of the 21st century has us constantly poking fun and passing judgement on others in the limelight; and we love every minute of it. The popularity and intrigue of reality television reaffirms the age old saying that sometimes “truth is stranger than fiction,” and in Jersey Shore’s case, who’s to argue with that?
Let’s face it: MTV’s Jersey Shore has no other ambition but to entertain, and that is the bottom line. It’s not looking to be an intellectual cultural spectacle. It’s merely trying to get a laugh. And should it be censored? Should the Snooki Punch be pulled out of airtime? All I know is this group of Guidos and Guidettes on MTV will be up to the same antics, on the same shoreline, with or without the limelight.
Watch Jersey Shore on MTV Canada! New episodes run on Thursdays at 10 pm and repeats on Thursdays at 9 pm and Fridays at 3 pm. For the full story line, back episodes, and photos go to the MTV Canada web site.