‘Jersey Shore’ characters infiltrate pop culture

One time I actually tried to GTL (gym, tan, laundry). Two left feet made for an epic stair-running trip and fall. FYI: ghostly pale skin and tanning bed bulbs don’t mix. And really, who does laundry on a Friday anyway?
Convinced that I could still model my life after the “Jersey Shore” cast, I fashioned my hair into a huge teased pile on the top of my head and set out to a “Jersey Shore” themed party, equipped with lobster red skin. And I fist pumped like an idiot for the entire night.
In “Jersey Shore’s” final season, which started on Oct. 4, JWoww’s boobs are the only things that don’t seem to have been subjected to gravity’s unforgiving pull. The “Jersey Shore” cast is looking old. Proof positive that alcohol doesn’t keep you young.
MTV seems to be finally catching on that getting drunk and getting it in may not be compelling entertainment anymore. As a result, some positivity seems to be coming to this season’s plot line: Mike “the Situation” is coming clean about his drug addiction, Snooki has a bun in the oven, Ronnie and Sam aren’t uselessly eating up air time with their fighting, Vinnie is taking a vow of celibacy. Could it be that “Jersey Shore” is going out with a moral bang?
MTV surely seems to be milking the brand for all its worth, heavily promoting the final season with commercials of real people emulating the cast members. Despite the fact that each season is the same plot and involves the same fights, the commercials function to show that everyday people have become fans. Those fans are not only still tuning in but they take “Jersey Shore” into their lives, carrying around an arsenal of quotes to casually spring on someone. That’s what it means to be a Jersey Shore fan. It’s much more than just watching the show.
Clearly “Jersey Shore” has plopped dollar signs into MTV’s metaphorical eyes. The Jersey Shore brand has lent itself to Snooki dolls, t-shirts with memorable cast quotes, a Pauly D spin-off show about his DJ-ing career, a Snooki and JWoww spin-off show about living together as BFFs, and endless appearances of the cast at clubs.
These everyday people, via reality TV, have garnered fame and literally get paid to drink and party. Living the college life well past their prime, it has been argued that the characters glorify a life of debauchery and meaningless sex.
Yet, “Jersey Shore” has increased foot traffic into New Jersey itself, especially the famed boardwalk that the cast inhabits during the summer months. The show has impacted New Jersey, has infiltrated college partying, and has blown up Facebook with GTL statuses. Cool story bro.
“Jersey Shore” makes it impossible to argue that reality TV does not influence our everyday lives. Even the calendar has been reworked, transforming Thursday into Jerzday. If you are a die hard fan, a hater, or simply don’t give a shit, I’m willing to bet that if you don’t live under a rock you’ve at least heard of “Jersey Shore.” This means something. We can’t just shove reality TV under the rug as frivolous entertainment.
Case in point: while sitting in the DMV waiting to renew my license in December, a 6-year-old girl was talking to her uncle, saying how she wanted to fist pump like Pauly D. After my initial horror that a 6-year-old was casually quoting a thirty-some year old over-tanned DJ with a blowout, I suppressed the urge to shake the innocent little girl’s uncle and scream at him about the future of America.
The “Jersey Shore” cast have become celebrities, in that child’s eyes and in the eyes of our culture.
According to The Daily Beast, both Mike “the Situation” and DJ Pauly D are on the list of top ten highest paid reality TV stars, mostly through endorsement deals. This screams celebrity to me — media figures being paid to have their self branded as the face of certain products, knowing that the products will sell because of their celeb status.
Reality TV has created celebrities, celebrities that are well-known, and being well-known has a cultural impact. Cultural impact changes what our culture looks like on the level of the everyday.
There’s a reason why one-night-stands and endless shots have more than just entertainment value when packaged in an oompaloompa-esque body. Let’s have one last fist pump for (sadly) the most influential television show of our college careers.