Aug 13

A true crossover hit

Jersey shore When it comes to pop culture, there are very few things Catharine ‘Goose’ Cody and I agree on. She likes Lady Gaga and Eminem. I chill to Ziggy Marley and Miles Davis. Catharine’s taste in movies skews towards ‘The Other Guys,’ ‘The Mummy’ and ‘Toy Story 3.’ Me? I think ‘Fargo’ and ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ are two of the best movies of the past 15 years. And when it comes to television, there’s always been a huge divide. The Goose goes for ‘Gilmore Girls’ and ‘True Blood’ while I gravitate towards ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Mad Men.’

But, there’s one thing we do agree on: We both adore the over-the-top antics of MTV’s Jersey Shore.

Now, I know Italian-American groups as well as New Jersey tourism officials are less than thrilled with the content, but I’m amazed at how many people my age watch a show that one would think appeals solely to Goose types. I think it’s because Jersey Shore combines some powerful crossover ingredients, including:

– A cast that, in some ways, reminds me of a weird, dumbed-down brew of the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges and Carrot Top all poured into one. The cast characters are amazingly funny (i.e. I loved The Situation’s observation about his car’s being stuck in the South Carolina mud and, after calling the AAA and seeing their truck get caught in the same quagmire, quipping, ‘You know, I always wondered who the AAA called when they got in trouble. Turns out, they call another AAA truck.’

– A new and totally bizarre vocabulary that includes such memorable words and phrases as: ‘Ima do me. You do you.’ That’s Jersey Shore slang for ‘you sleep with whomever you want, and vice versa, and we’ll still be friends in the morning.’ Then there’s ‘Did you smush with any girls last night?’ Smush = sleep with. And, then there are such true crossover expressions as: ‘grenade’ and ‘landmine’ that have already become mainstream expressions. The former is a descriptor for an unattractive, weight-challenged girl. The latter describes a leaner version of the same gender.

– All the drama and plot twists of the best daytime soap operas. The Ronnie and Sammie saga is not only scintillating, it’s punctuated by some of the worst, yet, most hysterical, dialogue one could conjure up. To wit:

Ronnie: ‘Sam, I’m, like, really trying here.’

Sammie; ‘I, like, know you are and that means a lot.’

Ronnie; ‘I, like, so love you.’

Sammie: ‘Like I know and I’ll always be there, even if we, like, hate each other.’

As is the case with any crossover hit, Jersey Shore has evolved over time. Unlike season one, there’s less attention being paid to the cast’s ethnicity (so, we don’t hear them calling themselves guidos and guidettes as in the past). There’s also a new venue, Miami, and a new workplace for the cast, a gelato shop in South Beach.

I’ll leave it to experts such as our resident pop culture guru, Sam Ford, to explain why Jersey Shore simultaneously appeals to my age group and my daughter’s. Perhaps, it’s because both generations see the show and the cast as absolute bus wrecks and, as is the case with rubber necking delays on the Garden State Parkway, we simply can’t help but slow down and look. And, once you look, you’re hooked.

So, here’s a shoutout to The Situation, Paulie D, Snooki and the other cast members. Keep it coming. Oh, and MIA, bitch. MIA.

Dec 10

I Love the Situation…

Guest Post by Andrew Stein, Peppercom

December 10 - jerseyAB So the talk of the town since last Thursday night has been MTV’s new reality show “Jersey Shore.” Along the same lines as the famed series the “Real World,” this show puts eight self-proclaimed “Guidos” into a share house in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, for a summer of debauchery and is there to film all the drunken missteps, fights and overall stupidity that ensues. As someone that grew up in Toms River, just a stone’s throw across the bridge from lovely Seaside Heights, I have a soft spot for the content of the show and must say I couldn’t be happier after watching the two-hour premiere.

However, there seem to be larger issues at hand than just my shear enjoyment of this train wreck. Many Italian-Americans throughout the country have expressed their distaste for the show and for MTV, saying it is offensive and portrays Italian-Americans in a false and negative light.

Now as someone that has taken more than my fair share of vodka shots in these local drinking establishments, I can promise you that the characters on this show are not acting. While I’m sure they’re showing off a bit for the cameras (put a shirt on fellas), I have seen a whole lot of “Guidos” in action behaving just like these clowns. So while MTV may be exploiting this particular sect of Italian-Americans, how can you really blame them? These people are willing to make total arses of themselves on national television, which is gold for any reality TV franchise. Unfortunately for Italian-Americans, scientists and CEOs don’t make for gut-wrenching channel surfing. These morons do.

So should Italian-Americans be upset with MTV? Personally, I can’t tell someone whether they should be offended by something or not, particularly when I’m not part of the minority in question. However, these people on the show are glorifying “guido” culture on their own; MTV is just serving as the medium for them to share it with the world. I can understand Italian-Americans being upset with the people that act this way because they reflect negatively on their culture. However, why is that MTV’s responsibility?  They’re in the business of making money through bad TV and this particular show happens to be a jackpot.

Most of what I’ve heard and read from the offended seems to blame MTV for falsely portraying Italian-Americans. As someone that grew up around these people, the idiocy and embarrassing behavior is accurate and MTV just happens to be smart enough to film it for profit. I can totally understand why Italian-Americans may be unhappy being associated with these people, I just don’t see why that is MTV’s fault. The fact is, “Guido” culture exists with or without MTV. While the cable network may be exposing it to the rest of the country that may not have the pleasure of seeing it on a regular basis, they certainly did not create it and, in my opinion, are not irresponsibly embellishing it.

Sep 13

RepChatter #43 posted

Rep_logo_2Steve and Ted discuss the image of young pop stars and the roles they play in the reputation of affiliated networks.

The discussion is centered on pop icon Britney Spears and High School Musical’s Vanessa Hudgens. They both have been heavily scrutinized in the news for their recent misfortunes. Britney for her lackluster, lip singing performance at the MTV Video Music Awards, and Vanessa for her scandalous photos posted on the internet.

How will the actions of these young celebrities affect the reputation of their associated networks, MTV and Disney? Was MTV to blame for Britney’s debacle on stage? Can Disney afford to part ways with Vanessa, a major piece to their billion dollar franchise?