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The cast of 'The Jersey Shore'. (Courtesy photo)
A year ago, “Jersey Shore” was just another dense reality show blending into MTV’s expertise of trashy television. Now it seems there’s talk of T-shirt time and GTL on every corner.
Since I first heard of “Jersey Shore” and its premise, I’ve been perfectly content ignoring the hype. I’ve never been particularly interested in watching belligerent guys and girls grind on each other, but apparently some people are.
Actually, millions of people are enthralled by the show. Approximately 5.3 million people watched the premiere of the second season of “Jersey Shore,” according to the Wall Street Journal; a record high for any MTV show in history.
I try to remain somewhat socially informed and because of the show’s remarkable popularity, I forced myself to watch an episode.
Beforehand, I told one of my friends that I was dreading watching it and was doubtful that I’d be able to get through the whole thing.
“Just let your brain cells go and watch,” she said. Great advice.
The episode I watched was called “Free Snooki,” featuring Snooki’s release from jail after being arrested for public intoxication. At the beginning of the show, Snooki converses with her dad about the experience.
“I can’t even tell you how I felt in that jail cell,” Snooki said. “It was a [bleep] phenomenon.” She pauses in apparent confusion. “Not a phenomenon, a train wreck.”
I immediately understood the infatuation. “Jersey Shore” uses the drastic exploitation of stupidity to an extent of such absurdity that viewers can’t possibly change the channel. Viewers are in awe that people who are that brainless really do exist.
The show exclusively focuses on anything taboo. If Snooki isn’t getting arrested or looking for sex, then JWoww is cheating on or cussing-out her boyfriend. No matter the situation, someone’s probably drunk.
Concurrently, “Jersey Shore” ironically avoids any topic of actual reality. It conveys a hedonistic notion that life without maturity and responsibility is actually possible.
Although, I confess that the episode I watched did touch on Snooki’s career.
“[Snooki] went to work in her dress from last night and slippers,” Vinny said.
Millions of viewers remain aware of the general stupidity of “Jersey Shore,” yet they persist on watching. This addiction wouldn’t be so problematic if watching “Jersey Shore” was simply a guilty pleasure. But just like tanning too much, it has side effects.
With its popularity, the people on “Jersey Shore” corrupt American culture. Subtly but substantially, they redefine what is subconsciously considered acceptable behavior.
In “Free Snooki,” JWoww endures several severe fights with her boyfriend, Tom, over the phone. The arguments are verbally abusive, and by repetition, convey that perhaps such a relationship is healthy and normal when truly it is not.
I’m still wondering how watching a person talk on the phone can really make for interesting reality TV.
On another level, the supposedly humorous content of “Jersey Shore” actually comes off offensive. Take Snooki’s approach to her alcohol problem, for example.
Snooki tells JWoww that she doesn’t want to drink anymore, which at first seems like a step in the right direction. Her enlightenment does not last long however, as she realizes her fears.
“I feel like if I was sober, I’d be bored,” Snooki said, reconsidering her decision of sobriety.
“To drink or not to drink,” she then said, as a Shakespearean scholar might. “I think [Pinot Grigio] is okay, pregnant people do it.”
Not only does she mock her admitted problem with alcohol, but she fails to take it as seriously as she should, considering she was just released from a conviction regarding alcohol abuse.
Intentional or not, Snooki’s behavior encourages viewers to take a similar approach of ignorance toward similar problems in their own lives. Watching Snooki dismiss her potential alcoholism allocates comfort and an excuse to viewers who may face parallel circumstances.
This detrimental relationship between the people on “Jersey Shore” and viewers applies to the other illegitimacies on the show, such as sex and cheating; for example, my favorite Snooki quote:
“Even though I just met him, Nick feels like the perfect juice-head gorilla for me,” Snooki said. “And I also kinda wanna have sex with him already.”
This quote reinforces the message that it’s OK to be so sexually explicit.
Somehow, the endless quotes and examples of what makes “Jersey Shore” so ridiculous simultaneously augment its popularity. This unfortunate relationship stimulates the most troublesome problem with the show.
What does the obsession with “Jersey Shore” reveal about our culture? In the wake of financial crises, diminishing natural resources and a war overseas, boozing and sexing takes precedence within the generation that should be most concerned by alarming current events.
The combination of soaring “Jersey Shore” ratings and viewings, and the abundance of other sources of social corruption jeopardizes the conditions of the hands the nation will one day be left in.
I don’t anticipate millions to stop abandoning their brain cells to indulge in “Jersey Shore” anytime soon; people must simply be warned. Outside of “Jersey Shore” turns a world that needs the same undivided attention.
Most of all viewers must remember: “Jersey Shore” is not real reality.
Contact CU Independent Copy Editor Devon Barrow at Devon.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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