Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year or had no access to either TV or the Internet, you’ve probably at least heard of the phenomenon that is “Jersey Shore.” This past season, our favorite guidos and guidettes left the streets of New Jersey for Miami. What followed has been yet another stellar season of fights, debauchery and the return of Angelina, who notoriously left the house during season one because she didn’t fit in.
While “Jersey Shore” is fun to watch, it also serves a more serious purpose.
And no, that purpose is not to teach us how to properly work out, get a tan and do our laundry.
When I sit down to watch the “Shore,” I can’t take it seriously. I find myself laughing at nearly everything that happens on the show and saying to whoever happens to be in the room with me, “Can you believe this is real? This show is ridiculous!”
Then I stop myself.
Because I’m still sitting down to watch the show.
Granted, I don’t watch it religiously, but I still turn it on and sit there. And as ridiculous as I think the show may be, isn’t it more ridiculous that I continue to be interested in it?
Watching “Jersey Shore” promotes more than just MTV and does more than simply increase the station’s ratings. It promotes the actions of the “characters” and shows young people all over the country the supposed reality of going on a spring break adventure or a summer beach week, while also producing a new generation full of mini Situations and Snookis.
MTV uses “Jersey Shore” to continue the reign of the “crazy spring break” and the idea that being an adult means being able to go wild whenever you want, without worrying about responsibilities. This second season of “Jersey Shore”, however, does include all the house members having to work at a gelato shop during their stay.
While it’s a good attempt to show that people need to have some responsibilities (and to remind viewers that they need money to be able to afford these kind of trips, because MTV can’t fund everyone’s vacations), the stars of the show are hardly ever shown talking positively about their jobs. Snooki in particular is always complaining about how much she hates working, which doesn’t put a positive light on the idea of doing something more than just partying.
Furthermore, when they are partying, the cast shows the same disregard for other people as they do for work. When his girlfriend, Sammie, chooses not to go out, Ronnie still goes out with the boys (which he has every right to do), but also dances with numerous other girls and brags about how hot the girls are and how he got their phone numbers. At the end of the night, he still goes home to Sammie and climbs into bed with her, telling her he loves her.
This brings us to the big ethical dilemma that has so far ruled this season of “Jersey Shore” – when the other girls in the house notice Ronnie’s infidelities, the question becomes, “To tell Sammie or not to tell?” This question is addressed throughout the season, with the girls trying to decide whether want to get involved.
The girls do end up leaving Sammie an anonymous note filling her in on all of Ronnie’s actions, but the importance placed on making this decision again sends a message of irresponsibility to viewers: the most important issues are the ones that only affect you and a small number of people around you. The cast never has any concern for larger ideas, thus promoting the selfishness of themselves and their disregard for things that may actually matter.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to protect your friends and being concerned for them, but when it’s turned into a major, continuous drama, there’s a problem, especially when it’s on a show that’s supposed to promote reality.
“Jersey Shore” is still fun to watch, but viewers need to acknowledge the mess it leaves behind. Growing up is about more than just having fun and focusing on yourself. It’s fine to act like these characters every now and then, but when it becomes a way of life, as MTV seems to want, it also becomes a problem.
The cast members of “Jersey Shore” need their own reality check, to see that there’s more to the world than them and their little show. Maybe season three can show the cast living on the Gulf Coast, cleaning up the beaches after the oil spill so that they’ll be able to lay down to get their tans.