MTV has a great deal to answer for -- reducing our attention span to half-second jump cuts and paving the way for American Idol for starters -- but the network still erroneously referred to as Music Television might have finally trumped itself in sheer loathsomeness with their latest foray into humanity's dregs, The Jersey Shore.
Essentially The Real World: Seaside Heights, the show chronicles the dizzying highs and perma-tanned lows in the lives of a group of (mostly) Italian-Americans spending the summer "down the Shore."
As with most MTV shows of its ilk, the program concerns itself primarily with watching "JWoww," "The Situation," "DJ Pauly D," and the rest get drunk, fuck, get too drunk to fuck, and pose in a manner most flattering to the omnipresent cameras.
Maybe it's the regional/cultural gap between SE Texas and New Jersey, but I admit: I had a hard time believing this shit was real. Like everyone else, I've seen those Lee Hotti pics, as well as the so-called anti-Guido demotivational posters, but like most people I'd always assumed they were merely representative of an extremely tiny minority, like Houston-based Bud Adams fans or gay Republicans. Apparently I was wrong.
The show has also angered some in the Italian-American community, including Joseph Del Raso, the president of The National Italian-American Foundation, a state of affairs that reminds me of nothing so much as that scene from The Simpsons when the president of the "Italian-American Anti Defamation League" tells a bunch of mob stereotypes they really "burn his cannoli."
I won't say that the fact the cast insists on self-identifying as "guidos" should alleviate these feelings, but...okay, yes it should. Anyone who believes the majority of Italians in this country spend two hours a day shredding their abs or pack suitcases full of hair gel is doing time in a CIA prison where the only TV available is this and Real Housewives of New Jersey. They're no more representative of Italians than Lucky the Leprechaun is of the Irish, or Tiger Woods is of...Cablinasians.
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What's inescapable in all this is how MTV continues to get away with committing entertainment-related crimes against humanity. I'm not talking about using footage of Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi getting belted in the mouth by a male New York gym teacher to promote this week's episode -- lack of taste has never stopped MTV before -- but rather that the network has once again loosed a tide of repugnant humanity upon the earth.
Time will tell where they'll rank in terms of overall MTV loathsomeness, and the lifespan of similar celebrity nonentities is thankfully as abbreviated as the shelf life of an Animotion video.
That said, my brief exposure to the Jersey crew fills me with confidence that we'll be speaking their names in the same nauseous yet reverent tones usually reserved for Puck, Jesse Camp, Dan Cortese, and *shudder* Kennedy.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go listen to Bruce Springsteen's "Atlantic City" about 50 times.