Monday, December 22, 2014

The disrespectful meatballs of the 'Jersey Shore'

Snooki: Just a figure of fun?
Snooki: Just a figure of fun?

THE GYM, THE TAN, spiky hair, big muscles, the poof, juiceheads, Armani Exchange and Cadillacs - the essentials to being an Italian "guido" or "guidette," according to MTV's "Jersey Shore."

But I beg to differ, along with many other Italian-Americans. We lived through the first season biting our tongues - and hoped things would get better in Season 2. They didn't. So this "guidette" is boiling.

The cast of "JS" has cornered the market on over-the-top Italian-American stereotypes, leaving the more uniformed viewers thinking that all Italian-Americans in fact act in this obscene manner.

Drunken fights, promiscuity and a "24/7 party" attitude is what Mike "The Situation" and "JWoww" are purveying about the behavior of young Italian-Americans from the northeastern U.S.

And, yes, even though I heartily disapprove of their behavior, I have watched the show in pure disbelief that people can live this way. Just listen to "Pauly D's" sense of himself - "I was born and raised a guido. It's just a lifestyle. It's being Italian, it's representing, family, friends, tanning, gel, everything."

So what it takes to be a true Italian is spiky hair, a tan, big muscles, getting wasted every night, sleeping with multiple women a week, and - oh, yeah - family? Frankly, it makes me sick.

The National Italian American Foundation was one of the first organizations to voice an opinion about the obscene behavior on the show.

Foundation president Joseph V. Del Raso, in an opinion piece in the Washington Post ripped the show for "its depiction of a false 'reality' in which people make a living by disrespecting their great heritage and demeaning themselves."

I agree. I take pride in my Italian heritage, unlike the "JS" cast.

I grew up in an Italian-American neighborhood in South Philadelphia, surrounded by successful and intelligent Italian-Americans who raised their families with pride, togetherness, faith and dignity.

Of course, as Italians, there's no denying that we're also known for our outsized personalities and witty (yet earthy) sense of humor. That's what helps make us what we are - but it's not the whole story. We don't disgrace our neighborhood, culture or families, because they are the most important things to us.

As the Inquirer put it in previewing Season 2, "The kids caused quite the kerfuffle last year just being themselves" but, according to critics, they also succeeded in "degrading the image of Italians in America with their boozy, brawling, minimally clothed, heavy make out behavior. Still, the network's not complaining. The show's finale attracted 4.8 million viewers, which puts it near the all-time top at MTV."

It's obvious that the negative portrait of Italian-Americans is a golden marketing tool for MTV. The show takes the absolute worst stereotypes from the Italian-American community, and puts them in the most negative light.

It's demeaning and disrespectful for the cast to behave in the manner they do, but also for MTV to continue showing it after such a negative response from Italian-Americans. For what other ethnic group would this be allowed to happen - or continue?

All for the sake of ratings and money, MTV is going to bash and demean a heritage by letting this disgraceful cast of people continue with their show onto the third season starting in January. But enough is enough. But America seems to want more of this crude behavior, and that's good enough for MTV.

The "Jersey Shore" cast needs a definite dose of reality. None of them seem to serve any kind of purpose in society except for their sick entertainment value.

They are nothing but a big joke. And when the "Jersey Shore" fad fades, which will be sooner than they expect, I hope they realize how quickly they'll be forgotten.

The truth is, America is laughing at you - not with you.

Danielle Rosati is sophomore journalism major at Temple University. Her e-mail address is Danielle.Rosati@temple.edu.

 

DANIELLE ROSATI
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