George Anastasia: 'Jersey Shore' to Italy?

So now Jersey Shore, MTV’s top-rated reality show, is going to Italy?

In making the announcement, the head of production for the cable network said last week, “The cast is headed to the birthplace of the culture they love and live by.”
Excuse me?

I’ve watched pieces of the show. Am I missing something?

Italy has given us — and this is just a partial list — the Renaissance, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Dante, Galileo, Gucci, Armani, Versace, Puccini, Fellini, Marconi, and more delectable foods than I can count.

In exchange, we’re sending The Situation and Snooki?

Hardly seems fair.

Instead of the beaches of Seaside Heights, are we going to get the canals of Venice? Instead of beer-soaked bars and bust-out joints on Long Beach Island are we heading for the Duomo and Uffizi in Florence? How are hair gel, hooking up, and perfect abs going to play at the Vatican?

And let’s not even get into what kind of reception this crew might get in Palermo. This could spark a 21st-century version of the Sicilian Vespers. Do we want to revisit a bloody event that some believe led to the creation of the Mafia?

There are many words that come to mind in any discussion about Jersey Shore, but culture is not high on the list.

Italian culture even less so.

Of course, several Italian American groups, already upset over the stereotyping of guidos and guidettes on the raunchy reality show, are again in a dither, calling for a boycott.

I’ve had my own problems with these people who also get out of sorts over The Godfather, The Sopranos, and books and newspaper articles they contend “glamorize” the mob.

My response: If you don’t like the shows, don’t watch. Turn the channel. Don’t buy the book. Don’t read the story. It’s free speech. Get used to it.

And please, stop whining.

The Mafia exists. It’s for real. And it’s had an impact, a negative impact, on America. As a result, it’s worth reporting and writing about.

But it doesn’t define Italian Americans.

Neither, thank God, do Paul “Pauly D” DelVecchio, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, Sammi “Sweetheart” Giancola, or Vinny Guadagnino.

I’ve said this before, and it still holds true: Any ethnic group that can give America Antonin Scalia and Camille Paglia in the same generation doesn’t have to worry about Tony Soprano being its poster boy.

The same applies to Pauly D and The Situation.

Their “show” is pap, cotton candy, bubble gum. It has no soul. No heart. Not even a faint echo of the Italian culture that has been at the forefront of fashion, literature, art, and entertainment for centuries.

The characters on Jersey Shore are irrelevant to that discussion. Their show isn’t even good TV. It is not something I would recommend or want to watch. But, like it or not, a few million viewers each week find it fascinating.

That’s on them.

Jersey Shore going to Italy, however, is another matter, especially when I read this lame explanation about a celebration of the culture the bozos on that show love and live by.
Now it’s a personal affront.

The cast of posing and posturing blowhards is about as Italian as an Olive Garden restaurant. The “culture” they love and live by isn’t in Italy. Nor does it have even a remote connection to anything Italian.

What Jersey Shore celebrates each week is a warped and twisted, ego-driven, form-over-substance lifestyle that MTV has happily cashed in on. And that has nothing to do with geography or ethnicity.


George Anastasia is an Inquirer staff writer. E-mail him at