Here’s The Situation: 5 Things MTV’s Jersey Shore Says About Our Society
I’m obligated to write this post. As a faithful visitor of the Jersey Shore—I’m sitting there now, typing this post in the peace and quiet, looking out over the water and realizing that, you know, you guys are right: New Jersey is so disgusting! Why would anyone wanna come here? The second season of MTV’s Jersey Shore, debuts Thursday night and I would be remiss to let any opportunity to comment on the Jersey Shore pass.
I could give you the “Five Reasons To Watch Jersey Shore” but I figured that would be cliche. “Five Reasons Not To Watch”? Same thing. The Jersey Shore is a culture all its own and Jersey Shore is one of the few shows really speaking volumes about where we’re at as a country. Stop laughing—it’s true. Here’s what it says:
1) The American Dream is dead; long live the American Dream.
The fact that people named Snooki and JWoww and The Situation are famous and getting paid off the success of Jersey Shore should come as a shock to anyone who’s poured blood, sweat and tears into their craft with little or no reward. It’s clear proof the American Dream isn’t what it used to be. Sure, you can still get rich doing it the old-fashioned way, but today’s American Dream relies on something much more important: Luck and reality TV shows.
2) We’re still more concerned with “reality” than what’s actually real.
I ran through the whole “reality TV is killing us” spiel a few weeks ago, so I’ll save my breath on that front. But the runaway success of Jersey Shore only reaffirms one thing for me: We, as a country, are too reliant on “reality” TV when it comes to shaping our world. I can’t knock anyone’s hustle, but anyone who actually buys any of the self-help books being written by members of the Jersey Shore cast need more help than those books are going to give them.
3) Shows like Jersey Shore are shaping young minds and thus the future of this country.
Little kids want to be like celebrities, rappers, athletes, actors—it doesn’t matter. If they see someone partying and having fun and making lots of money, that’s what they want to do when they get older. That’s one of the new definitions of success. It’s one reason the Jersey Shores and Keeping Up With The Kardashians of the world are so important right now. They’re showing kids they have other options for striking it rich, education and hard work be damned.
4) Sex still sells. But so does controversy.
There’s only one thing Americans love more than sex right now—and that’s controversy. Jersey Shore is the perfect storm. There’s young, sexy 20-somethings hooking up and doing all the things that made The Real World successful for so many years. But they’re also unabashedly Italian and proud of it (at least some of them), despite what their critics say. They’re engaging audiences with discussions about domestic violence and eating disorders. They’re also making up and breaking up and pushing the boundaries of what normal TV shows can do. It’s working for now, but how far will networks need to push it in the future?
5) Fifteen minutes of fame seem longer than ever, don’t they?
The second season of Jersey Shore hasn’t even started yet and I already know the most surprising thing about it: That it even exists. Once upon a time, 15 minutes of fame meant 15 minutes of fame. But hasn’t the JS crew proven that America is more willing than ever to let someone hang around if they make for a good joke on the blogs? Or if they end up on every episode of TMZ? Or if they have good abs? With America’s short attention span, you’d think Jersey Shore would be a distant memory by now. But it’s really just beginning.