Pop Rocks: They're Baaaaack!

Tonight marks the return of MTV's Jersey Shore. Season 2 moves the juice-headed, monosyllabic cast from East Coast to South Beach (which is still technically the East Coast, but let's not worry about that right now). The gang's all here: love starved Oompa-Loompa "Snooki," surgically enhanced underwear hater "JWoww," overcompensating closet case "The Situation," and enigmatic warrior poet "Pauly D." They and the rest of the gang will once again spend their days getting skin cancer and shredding their abs, while their nights will be primarily occupied with drinking, "creeping," and -- presumably -- beating up the beat. Just like in Season One, only with more palm trees.

Criticism of the show was swift and unrelenting, both for the cast's behavior (because we all behaved much more admirably during our own 20s) and the nagging fact that only one of them actually hailed from New Jersey. Why, I myself called it out back in December, but since then I've had a change of heart. Perhaps it was inevitable; after all, I count Cheaters among my favorite TV shows and own the complete run of Riptide on DVD. But I believe Jersey Shore can be viewed not just as an alarming cautionary tale, but that it can also provide illuminating commentary on current events. Such as...

Our National Race Nightmare

New cast member Deena Cortese's (she's replacing Angelina "Jolie" Pivarnick...aren't you glad you asked?) MySpace page has been disabled. Probably because of this video where she tells some perceived enemy, "We're gonna play you out, nigga."

A spirited (and bewildering) debate has sprung up over whether or not the use of the word "nigga" actually constitutes a racial slur (no, really). Frankly, I'm just shocked that there seems to be some lingering animosity between the races in the New York area.

Our Lingering Tax Woes

Think the debate over extending the Bush cuts is getting heated? You obviously weren't aware that Snooki disapproves of Obama's 10% tax hike on indoor tanning:

"I don't go tanning anymore because Obama put a 10% tax on tanning," she said. "And I feel like he did that intentionally for us."

Responding to simple economic incentives, the orange-hued TV star has switched to spray tans.

Paranoia and reality programming...always a healthy mix.

Arizona's Immigration Law

I'm sure I wasn't the only one keeping his fingers crossed that MTV would send the crew to Lake Havasu, AZ for the second season. Before US District Judge Susan Bolton blocked the more...intriguing aspects of SB 1070, I was really looking forward to seeing the normally cool and collected Ronnie mixing it up with police when they asked the dusky fellow for his papers.

Beach Water Quality

The latest water quality report issued by the National Resources Defense Council gives the edge to South Beach, but only just. The failure of the Gulf oil spill to (thus far) threaten the Atlantic coast of Florida may just be offset by the pollutant effect of Pauly and Ronnie's hair gel runoff.

The Scourge of Unemployment

It truly is a brutal working climate out there, especially when a corporation can force its CEO to step down for something as trivial as clumsily mishandling the simple matter of millions of gallons of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico. Thankfully for the 20-something demographic, the Jersey Shore crew are earning almost $30,000 per episode in the second season (and negotiating even higher rates for the recently announced third season). Doesn't that make those of you pulling $250 a week in unemployment feel better?

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