Is “Jersey Shore” Bad for Jersey?

MTV’s hit sensation “Jersey Shore” has legions of fans. Goodness knows, Montclair was overrun by them a few weeks ago, and the bedlam they created was enough to finally bring an end to already-beleaguered 501 Lounge. Earlier today, a panel of journalists, PR experts and Italian anti-defamation activists gathered at Seton Hall to debate whether the show hurts the reputation of New Jersey. Although Media Bistro’s PR blogger Jason Chupick worries about New Jersey’s long-term reputation and talked about how New Jersey could learn a little from the Mormons when it comes to brand management, there was much more talk about whether the show hurts Italian Americans.
UNICO National president Andre DiMino (above) says he knows of Italian Americans who actually get turned down for jobs because shows like “Sopranos” and “Jersey Shore” have made them look so bad. He also says he’s shocked that the National Organization for Women hasn’t publicly denounced the show for violence against women.

One Seton Hall student who attended the presentation pointed out that the show is really about another Jersey Shore stock character, the Benny, an acronym for Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, New York. The student hails from Tom River.
Star Ledger columnist Mark Dilonno faulted the participants in the show and wondered what had happened to the concept of dignity. “It’s us,” he said. “We’re doing it to ourselves.”
What do you think? Is “Jersey Shore” bad for Jersey? For Italians? For Bennys? For women?
Or should everybody just lighten up?

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  1. They’re real people, no? Not written. No writer is writing the content.
    People need to get a grip and lighten up. The show is not my cup of tea but “defamation” is now getting defined to only portraying a certain kind of reality? Please.

  2. Most of todays youth unfortunately will try to emulate these clowns instead of looking at it for it is, the dumbing down of America. Speaking of dumbing down, lets see how many times they show Kim Kardashian at the Super Bowl this weekend. She’s famous for ? Making a sex tape and being that idiot Bruce Jenners step kid. How shallow is that family? And people love it. I think it just makes them feel better about themselves. Jersey Shore dopes are famous for what? How about a reality show about someone making a positive influence on society? No way, it’s not cool. …and further we slide.

  3. I don’t believe this one:
    “[H]e knows of Italian Americans who actually get turned down for jobs because shows like “Sopranos” and “Jersey Shore” have made them look so bad.”
    I’m sure some folks don’t get a job because they don’t fit the “look” of an establishment (this is illegal, for the most part) or perhaps they are too “the Situation-y” for a place.
    It’s hard to imagine that a qualified potential employee with an Italian looking name doesn’t get a job because of Jersey Shore.
    But this feel like an internal, cultural struggle between some Italian-American who feel that the whole Jersey Shore/Sopranos thing IS who they are. And those Italian- American who are repulsed that this representation exists.
    But remember: on the show, it is not just the kids, but their PARENTS who also “act” that way.
    Reminds me of young Black kids using the N-word freely (young Italian-American kids use “guido”) and wearing their pants down low.
    At some point the prof says: Let the kids and folks do their thing.
    Snookie is not going to destroy all the wonderful things and people Italy has given America.

  4. I agree, it’s just a TV show and no one is holding a gun to the “actors'” heads.
    No one got this upset when HBO aired “Family Bonds” a couple of years ago. This was a show about the life of a bailbondsman from Long Island and his family. It featured some of the worst Italian-American stereotypes ever but no one said a peep. However, the show didn’t get renewed so maybe people spoke with their pocketbooks.

  5. So Mr. Roo, Pat Boone with his white bucks and cleaned up versions of song was not dumbing the nation down?
    There was and will always be a side of pop culture that trades of stereotype of folks.
    At the same time, you will have some local kid playing Jazz on the Grammy’s.
    We’re a big and diverse Nation, crap tv, culture, music, and people will not bring us down.
    (Personally, I fear the Elites– because they THINK they are smarter than everyone else and usually have a program to offer as proof.)

  6. (Only in the richest State- NJ (though we battle it out with Conn. every year)- in the Union can we complain that no one understands us…. Oh, life is so hard being so rich….. I love it, because it keeps the riff-raff out. Let them go to Delaware or Penn crap States if ever there was….)

  7. Hey, I’m the last person to care what people watch or do in the privacy of their home (as long as its legal) I just think it adds to the dumbing down of America. I’d rather see our youth emulate people like Colin Powell or the great Audie Murphy, people that are selfless and have character then these clowns. Watch away, it’s none of my business and I like keeping it that way. But the next time your out and one of these guido imitators start cursing and exercising their self felt right to entitlement don’t complain, its contagious.

  8. I understand those out there that are concerned about how the show diminishes the Italian-American heritage. But personally, I am more concerned that the show is telling an entire generation of kids that all they have to do to ‘make it’ in the world is to:
    tease their hair, use tinted spackle as make-up, be spray painted orange on a regular basis, swear like a trucker (a stereotype, but it is allowed since my father was a trucker and his cursing ability was legendary), throw punches when their opponent isn’t expecting it but only if a camera is nearby, wear skimpy clothing that purposefully lowers their already sub-par intelligence level, speak as if they only have a remedial education (to back up said style subterfuge), and dance like nitwits.
    They do all of this and huge corporations will throw $10k their way, smack a “made Jersey” label on their foreheads and move them to Miami.

  9. Herb, the “downward we slide” argument is weak. It falsely assumes things were better in the good old days.
    If we slide all the way back to colored only drinking fountains and back woods lynchings, keeping Jews and Italians out of social clubs (or better still, away from our shores) and so on, you may have reached a point where you are convincing.

  10. this is exactly the kind of publicity that mtv wants to generate. how many times is this show going to be discussed?
    the show isn’t about italians, it’s about a bunch of kids drinking and being stupid at the jersey shore. why is this analyzed so much?

  11. So Mr. Roo, Pat Boone with his white bucks and cleaned up versions of song was not dumbing the nation down?
    Sometimes I feel that Baristanet posts are nothing but Rorschach blots in which each of us sees whatever bugaboo he wants to see.

  12. I think out of the 8 of these shore kids 2 were from New Jersey. One was from Rhode Island, and I think the rest were Long Island. It makes Seaside look like Seaside, kinda gross and a hook up spot.
    But about thie Benny stuff – I work in an office full of people who make the over an hour commute up form the shore to work in Northern NJ. If they want us off their beaches fine by me. But they need to say on their side of NJ’s mason dixion line for employment.

  13. Why do people expect these kids to be from Jersey? If the show was called The Hamptons, would we expect them all to be from Long Island? The Jersey shore is a destination – and a state of mind, apparently.

  14. “Kinda gross and a hook up spot.”
    Sounds like the tagline for Club 501… (pppssssssttttt….. And that’s here in too-cool-for-you Montclair……)

  15. speaking as half an Italian American – If DiMino wants to fight another stereotype, he could maybe get to the gym and lay off the carbs.

  16. Thats absurd. Typical lib that paints everyone with the same brush. I’m talking about everyday common decency, manners, respect for others etc. in public. I recall years back working in a grocery store where if you weren’t on your best behavior you got ‘written up’. Today its not uncommon to be at the cash register and see a worker on their cell phone or eating while checking you out. I knew we were headed down hill when I was at the Hoboken terminal buying a pretzel and the girl behind the counter yells clear across the terminal, “hey (insert name) where the Fuk were you last night”. It’s behavior like people watch on these idiotic shows that just add to the moral decay. This has nothing to do with Jews, Italians or social clubs. If you got that out any of my posts then you obviously don’t get it. Also , why do you always think of things in terms of race and ethnicity? i never once mentioned it and it has nothing to do with my postings.

  17. I’m interested as to how bringing up this “issue” results in such a large public outcry for a change of some sort in MTV’s programming or how we should somehow ‘better influence’ how society sees New Jersey or Italians in general. What must be realized is that, in the end, it’s a television show that people decide to watch and/or follow. The people that we should be upset with or questioning of are the people that make up this kind of general populations: the individuals in the population.I’ve been to Seaside Heights and I saw what kinds of people were there; my concern is with the fact that people like you and me act like that in real life and see it as acceptable. Whether or not there’s a reality program that shows this supposed “culture”, the only concern we should have is with the individuals who continue to hold their ignorance and pretend that it is merely a trait of their personality and not a colossal problem that must be fixed.

  18. Typical lib that paints everyone with the same brush – Herb
    Love the irony in your words, Herb. Read it over and over.
    But you are right, Herb, many people were more polite 40 years ago.
    In every day matters, but also, as in:
    “Excuse me madam,
    or, pardon me, sir, if I could have a moment of your time, I would like to share with you that it is our policy to decline to admit your type to this premises, so, if you don’t mind, the door is over there and let me help you open it. Thank you very kindly.” Nice.

  19. I recall years back working in a grocery store where if you weren’t on your best behavior you got ‘written up’. Today its not uncommon to be at the cash register and see a worker on their cell phone or eating while checking you out.

    “The young people of
    today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for
    parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as
    if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is
    foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest
    and unladylike in speech, behavior and dress.”

    Peter the Hermit, A.D. 1274

  20. all the young rudes,
    acting so cru–uuude,
    all the young rudes,
    acting so cru—huuude
    well my brother’s down the shore with
    his guidos and his whores
    he never got enough of that
    karma fistpump stuff
    what a drag
    too many
    well i gotta a tube of gel
    and i’m feelin swell
    gonna talk about my abs, oh
    is that a normal itch or do i have
    all the young rudes,
    acting so cru–uuude,
    all the young rudes,
    acting so cru—huuude

  21. didnt audie murphy play himself in a movie, in which he reenacted his heroism – kill by kill – on the battlefield? certainly a hero on the battlefield, but methinks reenacting each killing goes a bit beyond selflessness. not saying he didnt deserve recognition for his part in the War, but i think youth, or anyone for that matter, better off emulating more humble players.
    also: there’s a great line in I, Claudius regarding the good old days. to paraphrase: one actor says “Ah, things just aren’t the way they once were.” to which another actor sez “they never were the way they were.”

  22. Thats absurd. Typical lib that paints everyone with the same brush. I’m talking about everyday common decency, manners, respect for others etc. in public. – Herb
    Just to be clear, Herb. Everything has weighted value in a civilized society.
    In this country, justice supposedly is more important than manners. I rate them accordingly. I want a just society with good manners. Yet, justice is more crucial than manners. I think Isaiah or Jesus (or Andrew Jackson’s men) might go along with that one. How about you?
    You might prefer to reminisce about the golden oldie years, gauzy with age, Brylcreem and strong aftershave, bobbysox and greasy french fries, full of examples of an unjust society with impeccable manners.
    You might find it superior to the vulgar society you seem to think we have now. Horses for courses, as they say.

  23. The judges/lawyers are dealing with “justice” if you got the dough. Take all these reality show contestants and do a season of Rollerball, watch the ratings soar. The decline has begun and the Gen X/Y/Z’ers are leading the dance of death. They just can’t see past their Crackberries.

  24. There are many different types of Italians and there are many different types of Italian Americans. Since my mother’s family came to the US from Naples 130 years ago and I have lived in Italy for 24 years, I feel familiar with the Italian and Italian American Culture.
    The subjects of the Jersey Shore show and the Sopranos accurately depicts a certain TYPE of Italian American that does truly exist here in New Jersey. This is undeniable and a real reality. Apparently people are fascinated and watch these very highly rated shows. Personally, although they are not my cup of tea, these shows do not offend me.
    Just a few miles north up the shore, if someone were to try to do a TV Reality show about the preppy hyjinx of the Italian American members of the Bath & Tennis or Golf Club in Spring Lake, I’m sure that this would get a rise out of no one and nobody could care less.

  25. The claim that anyone has been denied employment because of the ripple effect of a tv show is ridiculous, almost beyond belief. (Still, UNICO’s public statements are often way out there. And not just for mere sociological effect, I fear.) But then, so is the idea that a columnist from the Star-Ledger would have anything of depth to offer up on this matter.
    I remember Brylcreem, very greasy fries and that sort of thing fairly well, Spiro T. Yet I don’t recall the heyday of such stuff as representing an “unjust society,” albeit one with “impeccable manners.” This sort of faux naif, wildly ungrounded observation on your part is exactly why I feel you long ago shot your wad.
    There are guido types all around us. This is a given. There are also distinctly cultured (if somewhat snobbish) Italianate sorts like former NY State Senator John Marchi from Staten Island, a man who could quote Dante in the original medieval Italian from memory and had a marvelous knowledge of Renaissance lore he was always willing to share. Yet neither of these types necessarily a “culture”makes.
    What is most dismaying about “Jersey Shore’s” celebration of loutishness (a condition we fairly commonly of late associate with rappers who’ve recently come into money, as we once did with, say, punks like the Sex Pistols, and even before that with a sharecropper’s son like Hank Williams who suddenly could afford hand-made boots but still belched in public) is that its cast now imagines itself somehow entitled to VIP treatment. And that others, equally loutish and pinned down in dead-end jobs and lacking any real class, only wish they could be like that cast.
    Again, however, none of this means much in the long run. Italo-Americans and others are all still welcome to, for example, either read Italo Calvino’s novels or listen to Rita Pavone and I Pooh records as they see fit. Civilization will not crumble either way.
    Were the activities of LCN here over the last 50 years “bad” for NJ? Was the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby and the subsequent semi-farce of a trial? Was the scandal-plagued administration of McGreevey? The fact that F. Scott Fitzgerald never graduated from Princeton and also never got overseas as a commissioned officer (which is why he left his beloved Princeton in the firat place)? Even, if we have to go back that far, the novels of Stephen Crane and even of James Fenimore Cooper (who summered in Monmouth County)? Such speculation is invariably foolish. Perhaps thus fit for the Star-Ledger as it continues to breathe its last dying gasps, but otherwise not worth taking very seriously. (Although that sure didn’t dissuade many of the usual suspects from putting their own two cents in ahove.)
    One final point: the roots of the word “Bennies” are somewhat hazy but probably have little or nothing to do with towns like Bayonne and Newark.

  26. I’m a native of the Jersey shore (Avon by the Sea, moved to Montclair in ’78) and though I’ve yet to see the program, my appetite is now sufficiently whetted to give it a look.
    It seems to me, though, that the sort of individuals portrayed in the series fall into that category of visitors once known to shore folk as “Benny’s” (betokening summer visitors from Bergen/Essex/Newark/New York), a tribe known for their loudness, heavy drinking and pointless (sometimes violent) mischief.
    But, I don’t recall any specific ethnic connotation to the use of that term; perhaps I’m missing something relating to the Italian-American connection.
    Anyhow, I’m curious to watch and see what its all about.

  27. What I do think hurts the reputations of Italian American Organizations and Institutes is that they don’t make an effort to serve as a “cultural bridge” between Italy and the US. With the exception of a VERY small number of individuals, the Italian American organizations and academic institutions don’t even seem to have the ability to communicate with modern day Italians in there own current language or seem to be knowledgeable or understanding of current Italian cultural events. Instead, these American organizations and institutions cling to their own roots, experiences and dialectal languages from one hundred or fifty years ago that from the most part originated from small agricultural centers outside of the Italian cities where the majority of Italian Immigrants came from. (The current Italian Language was not really diffused until the 1940s, beforehand people communicated in their local dialects) Traditions are very important but so is cultural exchange. Where today’s so called Guidos can find their corresponding cultural counterparts in modern day Italy, the hard working and better educated Italian American can run into difficulty in an exchange with their modern Italian counterpart.

  28. Spiro T., I would never characterize anyone’s offspring as a “shot wad.” That you, seemingly contemptuously, did so your own child above does you no credit. You always go for cheap laughs, Spiro. (They’re really about all you can ever aspire to, I know that.) But this time you had to demean your own family? You’re that desperate to post?
    You almost make me miss Lasermikey at his vociferous, mal-informed best. But only almost.

  29. I wish I were an Italian American Guido
    That is really what I’d like to be,
    Cause if I were an Italian American Guido
    Everyone would be in love with me!
    Ratings rule. These kids got a super lucky break and are doing everything expected from them and more. They are brave, imaginative and very entertaining.

  30. I do love a cheap laugh, cathar.
    But you missed your calling as a psychic when you felt you could know if I love my kin from such scanty evidence.

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