Friday, November 27, 2009

Offensive Presentation

Fortunately, we no longer ridicule blacks, Hispanics, and other groups traditionally the subjects of discrimination and bigotry in American society.

The key, here, is whether the group is subject to discrimination and bigotry in society because ridiculing a group well established in American culture and economics is politically safer. And so we have MTV imploring us to “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.”

The premiere of the music video network’s newest reality show, Jersey Shore (video of a trailer below), airs December 3. Creating a 'reality show' excuses trash television, and this docudrama apparently will not disappoint those who always have enjoyed stereotypes of Italian-Americans . But an activist from northern New Jersey noted

Usually, if the movie or TV show specifically lets you know a character is Italian, chances are he's a buffoon or a criminal, Who's the dumbest friend on 'Friends'? Joey -- who, you guessed it, is Italian.

And that was nine years ago, a reaction to HBO’s Sopranos, which fostered a negative stereotype of Italian-Americans and of New Jersey, and a positive image of La Cosa Nostra. It was a ratings and financial success, which, obviously, is not only the ‘bottom line’ but the only criterion for media moguls in New York City (where MTV is based) and Hollywood.

“Jersey Shore,” depicting the debauchery of “Guidos” (nearly the Italian-American equivalent of ‘n_ _ _ _ _ _') enjoying a summer in the beach town of Seaside Heights, N.J., may not be as popular, or lucky, as the chic and fashionable Sopranos, a subject of discussion on the many talk shows which enjoyed ratcheting up enthusiasm for the program. The president of the Italian-American organization Unico National (which protested also The Sopranos) has called on MTV to drop plans to air ‘Jersey Shore’ and the president of the National Italian American Foundation has stated

We find this program alarming in that it attempts to make a direct connection between 'guido culture' and Italian-American identity.

Expect it, though, to be popular at least among New Yorkers, one of whom is quoted by the New York Daily News as saying “No, it's not offensive, but I'm not PC. It's funny.” Nothing about New Jersey is ever too funny, or too offensive, for a lot of people from the Big Apple.

MTV got it right in one portion of their promotion, however, when it stated

We understand that this show is not intended for every audience and depicts just one aspect of youth culture.

Presenting a show geared only to the most immature audience, MTV is depicting one aspect of youth culture- one of obnoxious excess- and suggesting it is typical of Italian-Americans, and of New Jersey, youth.

No comments:

Shedding Tears Over the Death of Orenthal James Simpson

Orenthal James Simpson has died, and he leaves behind an impressive, in a manner of speaking, record of misbehavior. In 1964, Simpson as a...