A phenomenon has appeared in the media, spreading from the shores of Seaside Heights, encroaching slowly upon our values, sneaking into our living rooms as we turn on the TV, and preparing to quietly kill us in our sleep. It is MTV’s new hit reality series Jersey Shore. From absurd counterintuitive statements of fashion, lifestyle, and society to portrayals of ethnic stereotypes, gender discrimination, and fist-pumping idiots, The Shore has somehow managed to grab everyone’s attention. In the span of mere weeks, viewership skyrocketed, breaking 4.8 million for the show’s finale and topping any previous viewership for an MTV reality show.
The issue is not what has become of MTV – the standards of any network that gave the world The Real World and Teen Mom are questionable. The issue is, what has become of the viewers who have taken this show under their wing and turned it into a part of their daily lives?
I don’t watch Jersey Shore. After mere minutes of watching it, I refused to subject myself to any more mind-numbing stupidity – and unlike multitudes of closet viewers, I’ve stuck to my word. Regardless of how hysterical the show’s ideologies may be (truthfully I find them pathetic), I was unable to find humour in that twisted world. Our ability to find Jersey Shore remotely entertaining just emphasizes that we all have way too much time on our hands.
Reality show viewing usually begins with word-of-mouth, and because so-and-so said something is decent, we suddenly must tune in if we want to take part in tomorrow’s conversation. When it comes to Jersey Shore, I can only assume that the enjoyment viewers are getting from watching it only comes from its role as a gossip topic. All I hear are people at the library talking about Snooki, and laughing when anybody uses the word “situation” in a sentence. We young impressionable intellects would still have things to talk about without these shows, but somehow Jersey Shore has taken over daily life. People don’t seem to realize that there are enough relatable real-world events to talk about without having to spin the convesation towards trashy TV.
It was only a matter of time before the on-screen Jersey drama filtered into people’s reference frames. Theme parties parodying the beloved Guidos and Guidettes are everywhere – never mind that parodying these characters is mostly composed of wearing revealing clothing and getting very drunk, very fast – which often isn’t far off from many people’s average Friday night. Catch phrases from the show almost immediately become common slang, meant to mock the idiocy of the characters but merely making the users sound dumb.
Why have we all become so obsessed with fake reality and fame? With so much dwelling on the absurdity of the show itself, people have forgotten the utter embarrassment that lies in simply watching it. Maybe it’s not what’s wrong with Jersey Shore after all; maybe the problem lies in what we have come to accept as decent entertainment for a lack of anything else better to do.
So let’s put away the bottles of gel, wipe off those fake tans, and crawl back into the “real world.” Because as much as it hurts to see these crazy people adored on TV for their sheer ignorance, MTV will continue to make shows like this as long as we continue to sit in front of a screen encouraging them. Regardless of how fake or real “reality TV” has become, it’s disturbing how it’s become a part of our culture and our daily lives. I’m okay with skipping the latest slow-mo replay of some girl getting punched at a seedy bar, and a week from now everyone else will be too. It’s only a matter of time before the next overnight success reflects a new set of praised mannerisms and gimmicks, so next time, let’s be a little more careful who we give this power to. I don’t want the gym, tanning, and laundry to take over my life anymore than they already have.
– Bianca Van BavelA&E Contributor