Next Tuesday, MTV debuts its newest docudrama: Jersey Shore, which follows a group of men and women on vacation in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. MTV’s announcement of the show told viewers, “Grab your hair gel, wax that Cadillac and get those tattooed biceps ready to fist pump with the best this summer at the Jersey Shore.” In other words, get ready for some stereotypes.
As a result, the show is already generating controversy, at least among a group that fights against stereotypes of Italian-Americans. Andre Dimino, the president of UNICO National, which is “the largest Italian American service organization in the USA,” told the Star-Ledger, “Trash television sells, and they’d be more interested in making money than how they’re offending a great group of people.” The paper notes that the group “also protested the portrayal of Italian-Americans as mobsters in ‘The Sopranos.’”
In a trailer for the show, the narrator calls the cast members “guidos,” while MTV’s current web site description is more aspirational, saying the series “uncovers sometimes surprising, often hilarious and usually over-the-top personalities as they juggle work, love, nightlife, friendship and the drama that ensues. In the end, viewers see that there is more to these tan and buff individuals than hair gel.”
Judge for yourself in this extended preview–it’s much more fun to judge a show based on attention-seeking clips than the actual program itself!
Update: MTV responded with this statement to the Star-Ledger: “The show continues MTV’s history of documenting various subcultures, rites of passage of young people, and the ways they self-identify. The Italian-American cast takes pride in their ethnicity. We understand that this show is not intended for every audience and depicts just one aspect of youth culture.”